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A seriously practical guide to overcome adversity 

The last two years of Covid 19 has disrupted our world in every conceivable way! It created huge challenges, massive adversity, and severe crises for millions of people. And it is unfortunately far from over

For me as a coach, the burning question is how can we help people constructively deal with the massive adversity they have had to face in so many spheres of life? I would like to share a “formula” and seven behavioural responses that I personally use and that have proved remarkably successful for many clients. 

The ‘formula’

I learned the formula below from a Canfield programme I participated in some years back. It has become an integral part of my life and has helped me very successfully overcome some major crises I have faced. 


The simple formula is … E + R = O


E: stands for Event  


R: stands for our Response to event 


O: stands for the Outcome of the event that our Response generates

We often have little or no control of the Event. Stuff just happens, as was the case with Covid 19. However, we do have absolute control of our Response to the Event. Unfortunately, many people do not realise this, and the Response is often an unconscious, emotional and unproductive reaction to the Event. 


The reality is that our Response is actually a matter of individual choice - if we have the emotional intelligence to understand and manage it. A positive, helpful response to the negative Event, even if it is difficult and it often is, leads to the best possible and sometimes positive Outcome. The flip side is obviously also true. A negative, dysfunctional Response will certainly lead to a negative Outcome. During Covid 19 we have seen many examples of both responses. Consider for a moment some of the positive responses. Numerous people have rallied around friends, families and in many cases, total strangers to help and support them through Covid. When faced with this horrendous event the positive response has created great compassion, caring, love and goodwill in many communities.



We know from the neurosciences that once we engage in negative or positive thinking patterns for more than 17 seconds, they repeat themselves. In the best-case scenario, this results in a cycle of positive thinking that drives the best possible outcomes. Remember, we get what we think about! In the worst case, this results in a rapidly downward negative spiral that leads to stress, depression, and various other undesirable outcomes. The trick is to be emotionally aware of our thinking patterns and deliberately change them when necessary. 


Seven critical behaviour responses

So, in the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic and associated challenges, what are the most important behavioural responses to this crisis that psychologists recommend? 

  1. Face the current harsh reality with a positive mindset. It is critical for your psychological well-being. Most importantly a great attitude helps create hope for the future in times of uncertainty and fear. Its also proven to help protect your immune system.

  2. Sounds crazy, but exercise gratitude for the positive things in your life. This is the most powerful way of getting into positive thinking patterns. 

  3. Follow a great early morning ritual of exercise, meditation, prayer or whatever else helps you get into good space and spiritual peace. How you start your day determines how you will end it. 

  4. Establish a well-constructed daily routine that you follow with discipline. This keeps you focused, productive and positive. And remember to take regular breaks.

  5. Stay socially and professionally as well connected as possible. With the amazing communication technology at our disposal, this has become easy. We are social animals and need this regular interaction. Remember, isolation often causes depression. 

  6. Use this it as a fantastic opportunity to “future proof” yourself by upgrading your professional knowledge and skills as well as to learn new and exciting things that interest you. Remember – if you’re not learning faster than change is happening, you’re going backwards! 

  7. And most importantly believe and know that “this too shall pass, and we will be safe.” Hope for the future is the most powerful driving force to achieve positive outcomes out of adversity. 


It’s not that easy

Of course, we acknowledge that it is frequently not easy to adopt these practices. However, we believe it is undoubtedly worth taking up the challenge to achieve the best possible outcomes when life presents extreme events that threaten our world as we know it. 

An invitation

As a constructive personal step ahead, I respectfully invite you to assess your own adoption of the seven practices and decide if you would like to further embrace any of them. Good luck and God bless through these tough times!

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