Adversity and Personal Growth

Adversity and Personal Growth

Adversity is something we’re guaranteed to encounter periodically, and there’s no getting around that. We’re all prone to encountering various challenges, stresses and frustrations. I learned these lessons after the shock and awe of my schizophrenia diagnosis and its initial impact — or rather, disturbance — in my life.

As tempting as it can be to run away at the first sign of adversity, it’s better to get into the habit of tackling it head-on. For many reasons, but above all, for your personal growth and development. Just because you may panic initially at the first sign of adversity doesn’t mean you’re obligated to react that way. You have the power to choose to see adversity as a challenge and as an opportunity for growth rather than as a threat to your well-being.

Allowing yourself to be taken out of your comfort zone is the best way for you to advance and further develop, in my opinion. Moments of adversity provide some of the best opportunities to learn through experience.

Although it’s tempting to reach out to others to “rescue” you from your adversity, I believe we should push ourselves to learn how to overcome these challenges on our own. That’s not to say I’m suggesting you never reach out for help because we all need people, but there are times it’s better for your long-term development to figure out how to do things on your own and not rely on others to “save” you. In every moment of adversity, there is a lesson to be learned.

Keep in mind there is no need to fear failure because we all lose sometimes. As much as you might covet the idea of perfection, the truth is it’s better to try and “fail” than it is to not try at all and stay “perfect” because you didn’t “fail.”

I believe not even trying guarantees us failure. Remember, we don’t need to be perfect, we just need to be successful in the end. Moments of adversity aren’t the end of the story; they’re simply bumps in the road.

Overall, the world is less scary when you change your perception and begin to perceive adversity as an opportunity for growth and not as a threat to your well-being, and it’s amazing how much more you can accomplish under this mindset and perception. Even the most successful and confident people in the world have their moments of doubt and insecurity.

Learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Personally, the profound impact my illness was having in my life and what my diagnosis meant for my life moving forward was critical. Meaning, to grow and advance from the wake of the diagnosis and its destruction, I had to embrace it radically, along with feelings of discomfort. Instead of folding at the first sign of a “threat,” I chose to persevere. I chose to be resilient and continue to move forward, no matter what challenges threatened to hold me back.

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."
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