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Leveraging Adversity: Learn How to Use Setbacks Like a Springboard 

By Claire Nana, LMFT

August 2014


Leveraging Adversity:

Learn How to Use Setbacks Like a Springboard

By Claire Nana, LMFT


We are all going to have setbacks -- whether it is losing your job, getting dumped, losing a loved one unexpectedly, or having an injury derail your training. And while most people would like to develop some sort of armor for when these things hit, what I suggest to you is not that we really want protection from these things at all. What we really want is to look setbacks in the face and say, I will overcome you, and I will be stronger for it.”

Because there is no such things as protection, and the sooner we let go of the fantasy, the quicker we can get on with overcoming what stands in our way.


But what does it mean to leverage adversity? Leveraging denotes using something to our advantage, which is exactly what adversity is -- it is an advantage. We can not ever predict when, where, or what will threaten to hurt us or our goals, but we can do one thing. We can learn to use whatever does take us off our course as a springboard -- one that causes you to push harder, re- commit to you goal, re-assess your methods, make adjustments and ultimately, grow.


In order to do this, however, there are a few things we need to do first. Primarily, we need to accept that the reality we were living in is now different -- and sometimes radically. Whatever the case may be, we cannot go on the way we have been going. So we must adjust, and when we do, we will see there are possibilities there that we had never considered before. Why? Because we didn’t have to, and now we do.

Then we must be willing to find gratitude in what is left, because after all, what is gone, is gone. We have to be willing to let go of the hope, wish or desire to have what is no longer here back, and instead embrace -- with full force -- everything we have left.


We must then look to those around us. We must look to the relationships that have sustained through the adversity, and we kindle them, build them and feed them. We must learn to find a deeper connection to the people who we never knew we needed so much.

And we must look to ourselves to see that, yes, we now know -- maybe in ways we never knew before that we are more vulnerable than we ever thought before. But we are also much stronger, because we are still here -- vulnerabilities and and all. And we have endured the setback -- even if it was the worst thing imaginable.


Lastly, we must find some reason to go on. Whether you all this faith, spirituality, or just belief. There must be a larger purpose that guides and encourages the sometimes seemingly impossible progression. Because if we don’t believe that there is a larger and greater purpose for which we endure, the enduring -- which has all the potential to make us stronger -- will instead make us weaker.


Claire Nana, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 12 years experience working with trauma, addictions, and performance psychology. Claire is also the creator the Advanced Post-Traumatic Growth, a continuing education course hosted by Zur Institute, as well as several other online continuing education courses for psychotherapists, personal trainers and life coaches.