Learning to Reframe Adversity: Yes Bad Things are Terrible, but so is Giving Away Your Power!


Reframing adversity is not about pretending that something did not happen, it is about accepting the reality of it, “yup, that happened” -> “this is horrible” -> “poor me” -> “I don’t love this feeling of being out of control” -> “Now what can I do next to make my life better?” Reframing begins at the last statement.

Accepting that it is indeed a fact and it did happen, there’s nothing that you can do to change that fact, but you can change how you react and how you carry on.

Someone said to me once that I could choose to make myself miserable or choose to make myself strong after some crappy crap that happened.  I chose strength, misery sucks and it takes so much more time and energy to be miserable.


“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – Dr. Carl Jung

This is #3 in my 10 part series this academic year on

“Being Nice to Your Brain”

plugged brain

Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain

  1. Mental Health Problems are Learning Problems.  #YOUARENOT BROKEN #LEARNING (Theme: Learning to Tolerate Ambiguity)
  2. The Psychological Value of Being Open to New Information and Experiences #MindBlown (Theme: Be Open to New Information)
  3. TODAY! Learning to Reframe Adversity: Yes Bad Things are Terrible, But so is Giving Away Your Power! (Theme: Learn to Reframe Adversity)
  4. You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel…Seriously Cut it Out
  5. Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
  6. Master Motivation aka “fire under your butt strategies”
  7. Seek Out Peak Experiences
  8. Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
  9. Learn the Art of Balance
  10. Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life

Adversity Gift

There is this pretty cool book called “The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections” by Norman E. Rosenthal M.D, that I think you should check out. If you are serious about working on your ability to reframe the bad things in your life, so that you can move forward and flourish, then seriously read it, listen to it or find a friend who can give you the short notes version with learning points…like me! See below 🙂

…or better yet, listen to a little YouTube bookstore chitchat with Dr. Rosenthal, MD.

What is the most important lesson about coping with hardship that people should take away from reading The Gift of Adversity?

  • Acceptance: Accept that the adversity has occurred.
  • Response Size: Proportion your response according to the nature of the adversity. Small problem, small response, small amount of energy expended.
  • Analysis: Analyze the situation. Is this within your control or not? Is there anything you can do to make it better? What can I do?
  • Self-Care: Regulate your physical and emotional state, for example, by keeping regular hours of sleeping and waking, eating regular healthy meals, exercising and meditating, spending time with supportive people and establishing boundaries and self-expectations that are different from your “normal” state (do less or protect more). Take care of yourself.
  • Help-Seeking: Reach out for help to family, friends or even mental health professionals. We are on this planet with over 7 billion people, we are not meant to be islands, we are social creatures.
  • Tell Your Story: Turn your experience into a story to help you process it. “This happened, it sucked because, I don’t want to stay in this place, I will try this to make things better for myself…”
  • Reframe: Reframe the adversity, think about it in a different way. “This is what I learned, this is what I know now, I am pretty strong in crappy situations…”

Still Not Convinced?!!?

Don't Stop in the Middle

Well, this is your life and the beautiful thing is that you can choose how you want to live it. I got sick of being miserable so I accepted my situation and created my “work around” for the circumstances I had. Your choice. But, if you want to be a person who flourishes, has the ability to bounce back from unexpected adversity, change or loss, the follow the steps below.

A Recipe for Flourishing for Humans

  1. Unwanted adversity shows up
  2. If you can’t change it, accept it. It is what it is. (or stay stuck here, your choice)
  3. Reframe it so that you can move forward in your life.
  4. Implement a “bounce back strategy” (Resilience is fostered here)
  5. Let the thriving begin and enjoy the flourishing life that you are creating.
  6. Repeat
  7. Learn new new tricks and perspectives while waiting for more adversity to show up (it will happen, it is what life does well).


TEDTAlk: The Opportunity of Adversity

In Closing

  1. You have muscles not wounds. You have done the heavy lifting.
  2. The struggle you put in today is the strength that you will need tomorrow.
  3. Adversity does not build character it reveals it


It takes courage, adaptability and strength

to persevere when things don’t go your way.


I never share things here that I haven’t done or are not currently wrestling with. Life is an effort, but the effort is worth the struggle. Who ever thought that this life would be easy, or told you that, is absolutely wrong. The closest we get to easy is the opportunity to work on being happy. #HardwiringHappiness

Tell me about your journey!

#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness


Dr. Heather Drummond,  C.Psych.

Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through


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