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Dr. Judith Rich Headshot

Growing Through Adversity: Victim or Victorious?

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Tony Robbins' new series, Breakthrough: The Power of Crisis, launched this week here on the Living page, is taking on one of the most important issues of our time: How can we be empowered by crisis rather than impaled by it? How can we use adversity as a mechanism for personal growth?

This is certainly not a new question. In fact, it's essentially the human condition. Life really doesn't care if we like what it brings or if we're ready. Life is impersonal that way. Life "happens" and we are faced with choices about how we're going to deal with it. Will we be a victim of circumstances or will we use them instead to grow and become victorious?

In my own offerings here, I've been exploring this same topic, but in a slightly different context: How can we transform the fear-based consciousness of scarcity, which has so many people in its grip today, and live in the consciousness of abundance?

Recall, our definition of abundance is not about greed or excess. Abundance in the context of these lean times is about sufficiency, living in the flow of "enough." In the face of hardship, how does one overcome conditions of scarcity and create conditions of "enough?"

As Tony affirms, "It all starts with each individual's inner strength and resilience." So the question becomes: How does one shore up their inner strength when life has beaten them down? What do you do when the only thing in abundance in your life is scarcity?

Here's an email I received from a reader of last week's post, "Five Keys to a 'New' Abundance for Lean Times," that gets to the heart of the issue:

Thank you for that wonderful article: 5 Keys to Abundance. The words were well written and thoughtful and it certainly makes a lot of sense.

These types of articles are great but there is always one small problem. The landlord won't take the article or words as payment. Also the car companies, gas and electric companies and super market will not take them as well. You get the point. Life will not wait for us to get better and learn to adapt these words and move forward.

Perhaps if the world was more compassionate it would work, say for instance tell all of your creditors that you need three to four months to get well and they accept that. Yes I am cynical but I am also the average hardworking, family-loving person who is ready to throw it all away. Not because of what I don't have but because I can no longer support my family in ANY WAY.

The effort is great on the writer's part and it will probably help some of the people get through a couple of extra days perhaps weeks but is not a solution. I myself don't know the solution and try and figure it out every minute of every day.

When you love your family and they love you back and everyone is pulling hard together it certainly brings you closer together and you do learn a lot about your self but this for many people is not enough; they just can't survive financially or emotionally and the result is what you see in the news every day and often. --Jeffrey F.

Jeffrey has voiced a legitimate concern that hits to the core of what many people are facing in today's economic crisis. How do you pay the rent or buy groceries with "good ideas?"

All this abundance philosophy sounds good on paper, but when the resources are all dried up and the rent is due, then what? It might sound and feel good for a nanosecond, but when the rubber meets the road, the rent is still due and the kids are hungry. Let's get real.

Seriously! Let's do get real. Jeff feels he no longer can support his family "in any way," and is "ready to throw it all away." So let's examine Jeff's situation more closely because his circumstances and his despair echo what can be heard across the land in many people's lives today.

Let's look at how Jeff sees his situation: Given what's so, Jeff feels he can no longer support his family in any way. To this I ask: "Is this true?"

Jeff tells us he loves his family and they love him back and they're pulling closer together through this experience. I know love won't pay the rent, but notice, the family is pulling together. They could be moving apart, but they're not. I'm not sure if Jeff truly gets what a valuable resource this is.

There is something here that money can't buy. So while love, alone, doesn't pay the rent or make the car payments, within this circle of love and connection called "family," or even friendship resources, there is a fountain of possibilities waiting to be loved into form. And that form might very well turn out to be what pays the rent and puts food on the table.

There is a sacred bond, a deeper connection, that manifests when people come through hard times with the love and support of family and/or friends. It comes into being when people dig deep to find within themselves the strength and courage they didn't know they had, the commitment to their future, the legacy they leave behind for those who follow, and their commitment to stand for themselves and each other to realize and live into their greatest potential.

Talk to men and women who have been in military combat together -- people who have stared death in the face together and come back to tell about it. Talk to people who have been through the catastrophic illness of a family member together. Talk to those who've sat at the bedsides of their dying loved ones together. What will you discover? There is an unspoken, sacred bond felt by those who confront life's biggest challenges and who learn and grow from them together.

Do not sell this sacred bond short. In the department of valuable resources, this one is right at the top of the list. It's intangible, yes, but if asked to choose which is more valuable, the love and support of family or money to pay the rent, what would you choose?

There will be people who, in the identical circumstances as Jeffrey, with all the same complexities, fears and misgivings, will turn their circumstances into a turning point in their lives. They will take this same hand and play it, not from being ready to throw it all away, but from stepping into the void that is already there, choosing it (it already is), and summoning from their deepest and highest selves, their powerful intention to move forward.

People who prevail and get to the other side of hard times do so because they discover a part of themselves they didn't know they had. In so doing, they realize that it was only under the pressure of what felt like no choice, they in fact chose the hand they were dealt and used that exact same hand to get bigger. They were victorious in the face of what looked like being dealt a losing hand.

Those people will look back on this time and see this was when they chose to live as a conscious act, an act of volition. And then they set sail toward creating the rest of their life. Why couldn't this scenario be yours?

Likewise, there will be people who, dealt this same hand of cards, will respond by feeling empty, passionless and drained dry of life. Like Jeff, they've lost access to their inner resources and in the face of hardship are ready to "throw it all away."

Which response do you think is going to produce breakthroughs, and even success? Which is going to empower someone to press on, dig deep and come out winning?

Do you have a choice in the matter? Thinking you have no choice is a choice itself. Which choice is more empowering? Which one opens possibilities?

Surely in the face of "throwing it all away," giving up, resigning, the doors to possibility are closed. The mind has decided there is no way forward and thus, it comes about. There is no way forward.

We literally speak and think our reality into being. If the mind says, "This is it. I'm done. I have nothing left. There is no way forward," this thought takes form and creates itself on the material plane. Thoughts become things.

Abundance begins when you choose exactly what you have, not as in resignation or "settling," but as a place from which to begin. If you're in resistance to what already is, you are not in the present, where the only opportunity to change things resides.

Resistance is a form of denial that has you locked into a belief that "this shouldn't be happening" and thus, you're stuck right where you are. All the resistance in the world will not change your current reality. You must stop resisting and choose what you have. Only then, are you available to take committed actions that will begin to turn things around and thus, transform your life.

I sense that Jeffrey has not completely resigned yet. He has reached out and this is good. If he'd truly given up, he wouldn't have taken the time to write with his question. He is still in the game, but on his way to the bleachers, while looking over his shoulder to ask one more time, "Is there another way other than giving up?"

Which to Jeff I say, "Yes! Yes!" For sure you're going to lose if you retire to the bleachers and sit out the rest of the game. If you throw it all away, you're not even going to give yourself a chance. So what if you've given yourself 1,000 chances? How do you know your chance is not at 1,001 or even 1,002 or beyond? How many times did Edison fail at the light bulb? 10,000? How do you know it's time to quit? What if the game is just getting started?

And as for the rent, what if love and courage can pay it? What if self-love and courage are the missing ingredients that would have Jeffrey know he's capable of winning, even if the score doesn't look good? I'm reminded of a young man named Nick Vujicic, who was born with no arms and no legs. Nick is a winner. If you want to know what resilience and courage look like watch this. It's worth 4:11 seconds of your time.


We have the hand we're dealt. It seems unfair that some people should be dealt all aces and then there's Nick Vujicic, who chose what he has and wrote his own rules about what it means to be dealt a life with no arms and no legs and we're all richer for it.

Choose the cards you're dealt, the ones you like and the ones you don't, and play them full-on, play them with everything you've got for as long as it takes, for your very life might well depend on it. In a very real way, it does. For sure if you throw in the cards, you lose.

Jeff, I hope you still have your uniform on and are headed back towards the field. The team is missing a player without you in the game.

And to anyone who can identify with Jeffrey, to those who question if it's worth it, to those who wonder if they matter, to those who don't see a way out, please remember this: the human team is incomplete without you on it. You came to play out your life and there's no one else who can "do you". There's something you came to do, someone you came to be, something you came to learn and contribute.

You are essential to the story of humanity. If you don't contribute your unique piece, the human story is incomplete. So if abundance is scarce or if scarcity is abundant, go for it anyway. Your current circumstances are precisely what you have, so choose them and then get busy creating from there.

I'd love to hear from you about how you're being resourceful in dealing with scarcity or other challenges at this time. Please leave a comment below and/or come pay a visit to my personal blog and website: Rx For The Soul, where I'll be blogging on this on a regular basis.

And hey, we're all in this together, so let's Become Fans and hold hands while we traverse the peaks and valleys together. You can contact me personally at

Abundant blessings, wherever your path leads you.

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