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Coping with adversity - discovering the goal worth failing for

Updated on July 15, 2012

We have to face the inevitable - failure and adversity are integral parts of our lives. All of us have different ways of embracing failure - some methods more positive than others, and we should be encouraging the obvious second. An interesting question to consider is this - What are our own strategies for coping with failure and how should we channel them in a positive direction?

How to deal with adversity

The three broad categories of dealing with failure

Category 1 : Negativity

To myself, this is the category of most conflict, dreaded and yet the most popular. Suicide and self-mutilation are common and tragic reactions to failure - consequences resulting from negative pressure.

Others resort to negative pursuits - say the abuse of any kind of drug - licensed or unlicensed. Failure and resulting pressure forces some teens and young adults to fall into bad company - the fighting and brutality can be their way of dealing with negative stress.

Yet others develop inferiority complexes - I daresay that most of us fall under this category - and turn to self-blame, seeing themselves as unworthy of continuing what they were pursuing once they fail. They disengage themselves socially, emotionally, mentally and professionally, hiding behind a protective shell that allows them to avoid the embarrassment of failure and adversity. Sadly, most of us exhibit these types of behaviors when we fail.

Category 2 : Indifference

Some of us do not react when we fail - they make no decision to move forward, but rather let things be as they are. They are a little non-plussed, not knowing what to do about their untoward circumstances.

A little step above negativity - still, decisions need to be made to move forward!

Category 3 : Positivity

This is the category all of us wish to be in. We truly admire those who handle adversity with a big smile and move on whatever challenges they may face. They look at failure as a need for redirection, not a put down - and this makes their attitudes true nuggets of wisdom.

I would like to address the writers and Hubbers who answered the question “What is your strategy for coping with failure.” Each and every one of them supplied the inspiration I needed to write this hub. What is remarkable about their responses was the true positive vibe I got when I read them - these writers are truly resilient, forward - minded individuals!

Which kind of adversity manager are you?

See results

11 interesting personalities and their strategies for adversity management - which one are you?

Here are 11 interesting personality types and their methods of coping with failure. I have arranged them in the order of negativity - try to relate and discover which one you are!

Mr. Conspiracy Theorist

This is an individual we love to hate. He sees everyone and every circumstance as being targeted at himself. To him, everything is a conspiracy to bring him down - and he wants to have his revenge and take them down with him!

Not an individual we want to learn from - his negativity only serves to make his circumstances even more negative!

Mr. Globe trotter

I named this individual this way because he really makes his tendency to blame really universal. He trots the globe - figuratively, of course - blaming everyone and everything for the circumstances he is in.

Although he does not attach the responsibility of circumstances to himself, he does the equally negative and makes others equitable for the circumstances that he is in!

Mr. Shifter

This individual does what he does best - he conveniently allows someone to assume responsibility for the untoward circumstances in his life. The Shifter usually maintains silence about his failure until someone else says that he was responsible for unpleasant circumstances, then says “Yes, you were!”

Negativity of convenience is how this person is best described.

Mr. Bucket Kicker

This individual usually throws in the towel or kicks the bucket when he meets adverse circumstances. He gives up right away - and usually blames himself when things do not turn out as expected.

He usually does not move on - he resorts to depression and other negative activity, definitely not something we should aspire to.

Mr Karma Chameleon

Mr Karma Chameleon usually takes the responsibility for his circumstances upon himself.He sees it as his karma - that he must have done something to deserve his circumstances.

The assuming of responsibility is commendable - though Mr Karma Chameleon does not really want to do anything to move on, and his actions can constitute self-blame.

Mr. DNA Analyst

A character somewhat like Mr Karma Chameleon, the DNA analyst, too bears the culpability of his adverse circumstances himself. He says that the adverse circumstances are a result of his DNA - and that nothing can be done about them!

A rather indifferent individual, he does not see the need to move on - he does not want to resolve his own situation.

Mr. Indolence

This individual does not want to do anything about his situation at all - he is too lazy to analyze what has happened for things to be as they are. He is happy in his own comfort zone.

The problem with the comfort zone - growth is limited.

Mr. Present Moment

Mr Present Moment has the knack for living from day to day, dealing with adversity by saying that he will worry about untoward circumstances only if they have any negative ramifications. His maxim - live for the present moment!

Although Mr. Present Moment is not a negative person by any account, he does not concretize plans for the future or really find ways to deal with his problems.

Mr Rational

Mr Rational usually loves to explain the problem - he tries to suggest positive and conclusive reasons for the adverse circumstances. Such a person usually tries to look for the reasons for his failure, a positive move.

The problem is - he does not move on or know where to move to!

Mr. Learn-from-it

This person says that we learn from our failures and do not repeat the same mistakes - a person we can learn from.

Mr Learn-from-it, though, can concretize his plans for moving forward a little more.

Mr Cut-it-down-to-small-sizes

By far, Mr Cut-It-Down-To-Small-Sizes is my favorite individual. He breaks his problems into smaller, bite-sized pieces to try to solve them. He does not attach blame to his circumstances - he does something about them and makes them more manageable.

He is the person to turn to if we have really big problems - he makes them smaller for you.

Overcoming adversity

How should we cope with failure

Maintain your cool

Keep calm whatever your circumstances may be - getting enraged or in a confused fluster will not help to make them better. Indeed, they may even worsen them - though it is emotionally comfortable to be confused and crying, it is vital to stop, take a minute and think about the best ways to deal with the problems presented to you.

Know that failure opens the doors to success.

The old adage failure is the mother of success is a true one - but it is true only if we make it so. We have to see it that way - looking at failure as only embarrassment or shame only serves to get in the way of our progress in life.

Failure can be a stepping stone to success - only if we choose to learn from our adverse circumstances.

Laughter is the best medicine.

I like dealing with my adverse circumstances in this way - I watch a hilarious movie or read a comic. You must decide to laugh though - meeting failure can eliminate the desire to laugh altogether.

Laugh you must - it helps you to forget your problems for at least a while! Laughter is also proven to have a great impact on morale and cohesiveness - I enjoy workshops and meetings where everyone begins with a great laugh and it makes the work less so.

Learn from your mistakes

Rather than attaching blame to yourself or others, learn from the situation - redo things and do not make the same mistakes again. It is good to take note of what went wrong and not repeat it - or we get caught in a continuous cycle of failure.

Break the problem down!

If the problem seems rather overwhelming, break it down and take it one step at a time - this helps to give the situation more clarity. Further, some things may be more easily solved than others.

Take things one step at a time - and adverse circumstances are reshaped gradually.

Find the goal worth failing for

This takes some looking into ourselves - we have to decide what our purpose in lives is and what our passions are. When we work with our passions, they become goals worth failing for - even if we do not succeed with them at first, we find them worth trying for until they work for us.

Take writing as an example - it is difficult, at first, to find our niches, but when we do find them, they become extremely rewarding.

Failure does not need to be debilitating - we do not have to let it make us. We only have to decide to deal with it! Find a goal worth failing for - and the circumstances and hard work will be worth it if things do not turn out the way you want them to.



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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for stopping in Wrenfrost! Actually, I do agree with you....all of us are somewhere in between. There are times when we will be bucket kickers and times when we will look the other way! All about being human!

    • wrenfrost56 profile image


      7 years ago from U.K.

      What an excellent hub, I learned so much. I didn't vote in the poll though cause I am a bit of a bit of a mix in the personalities department. lol. Looking forward to reading more of your work. :)

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Wow....Annie, I really appreciate these lovely, thought provoking comments! Thanks for putting in so much thought into them, and am really glad this is useful! Thanks for sharing too!

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Wow, Midget, so much information in one hub, not only do you provide useful steps for overcoming failure and adversity, but you show us behaviours that are not conducive to moving forward. You have laid this out so that we reflect on previous ways of coping, or not coping before moving onto your practicable suggestions for overcoming adversity. I for one can admit to resorting to self defeating behaviour at times and can relate to Mr Bucket Kicker and that realisations sets my mind for a better way which you provide in the last section of this hub. Excellent hub, thank you, my votes and best wishes to you and sharing!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Shalini, glad you found it helpful! Look forward to reading more of your work as well!

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      7 years ago from Delhi

      this was a really useful hub, i loved it :)

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks so much, Kelly! Really appreciate the share! So glad you've found it useful too!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a helpful article Midget38. I'm still not sure which one I am but I found this to be so well-written and fun to read. Voted up, interesting, and shared! Kelley

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Christy. Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for the share as well. It's really appreciated!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Really good, Michelle. I like that you explain about learning from our mistakes and the ability to laugh. So important. I vote up and will share too.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      TT, really appreciate you dropping by...I know you must be zoned after only three hours of sleep! Get some rest!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Paul, I'm so glad that you've found this useful. And the share's much appreciated! Thanks so much!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great job, Michelle, nicely done. Very helpful hub on defining diversity and the ways different personalities deal with it. At least I think that's what it means...hard to focus after only 3 hours of sleep. :) VUM.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is a very, very interesting hub and what you say is true. It is so true that we have to find our goals worth failing for. Also, it is so important to learn from our failure and turn a negative into a positive. Voted up and sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Welcome Josh! Hope it helps!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Thanks for yet again another insightful hub!

      "...even if we do not succeed with them at first, we find it worth trying until they work for us." So true, thanks for this hub! We must be willing to try and try again, that determines our passions!

      Great job Michelle, have a good one and take care!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for stopping by, Patty, will be going to read your latest poem a little later as well!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      This hub is dedicated to the hubbers who have taken the time to answer the question What is your strategy for coping with failure? Thanks to who was, whaturmissing,Cre8tor,eddiecarrara,BobbiRant, SparkleChi,AnnRandolph,malonga,Gabriel Wilson, Lady_E,d.william,Leaderofmany,Ms Dee,Stricktlydating,padmendra,peanut roaster,brittvann22,jcharless,InChristalone,CivilWarBob,dghbrh,snob let,easycashonline,SwordofManticorE,soundtrack junkie, tajman,loidaestillore,Larchinski,seajon,Reenile,yssubramanyam,OpinionatedMan, The Suburban and last but not least, Quirinus for sharing very lovely insights - you have a large part in this hub!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 

      7 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Very Interesting!!!!


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