What Doesn't Kill Us

The new psychology of posttraumatic growth

Lessons from Adversity

Building a colorful mosaic with the broken pieces

Sometimes we can learn lessons from adversity.

Adversity shakes us to the core because it challenges our beliefs about ourselves and our place in the world. Adversity may show us that we are vulnerable, less important in the grand scheme of things than we thought, or that things we thought to matter don't. 

To overcome adversity and move on we need to rebuild our belief systems.

This can be illustrated through the metaphor of the shattered vase. Imagine that one day you accidentally knock a treasured vase off its perch. It smashes into tiny pieces. What do you do? Do you try to put the vase back together as it was?

Like the vase held together by glue and sticky tape, those who try to put their lives back together exactly as they were remain fractured and vulnerable.   

Or do you pick up the beautiful colored pieces and use them to make something new – such as a colorful mosaic?  Those who accept the breakage and build themselves anew become more resilient and open to new ways of living.   

The secret to dealing with adversity is to know that you can’t put the vase back together exactly as it was, but instead start to use the pieces to build a new mosaic.

We can learn to live each day more meaningfully in light of our vulnerability.

We can learn to give our love to others in light of knowing that we are not as important as we thought we were.

We can work out what really matters to us in light of finding out that what we thought matters, doesn’t.

 

Find out more about my work at: www.profstephenjoseph.com

Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology, health, and social care at the University of Nottingham, UK, and author of What Doesn't Kill Us.

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