Be Exceptional – Strategies For Overcoming Adversity and Defeat

Exceptional Strategies - Lead You Upwards“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up
every time we do.”     ~ Confucius

Angela’s husband, Matt, told her over the phone that he wanted a divorce.  She knew they had problems but this came out of the blue.  She was devastated to say the least.  All of her tears and pleas were ignored.  It was as if Matt had amnesia.  He no longer seemed to care anything for her and showed little interest in their two sons.
Angela’s friends and family quickly mobilized around her with tons of advice, all of which was negative and vengeful.
She refused to have any part of it.  Even though she was angry, hurt, and scared; she chose to take higher ground.
She said, “Most people get mean and hateful in times like these.  I want to face this in such a way that people see me conducting myself in the most positive manner.  I want to be the exception!”
The turning point in a person’s life can usually be marked by some type of loss or failure.  Everyone who is successful has faced some form of adversity and defeat.  Here are the strategies that will ensure that you overcome the hard times of life and transform them into personal victories:

1)     Defeat Reveals Your Faults.  Initially Angela mentally beat herself up.  All she could see was how awful she was.  “I’m too anxious.”  “I obsess too much.”  But as time when on she did realize that perhaps she complained too much and maybe she could have been easier to get along with.  She identified that she had lacked ambition and hadn’t tried as hard as a wife as she could have.  She tended to be overcautious and worrisome which often killed moments of potential intimacy.  She could have better controlled her tongue and her temper.

Notice she hadn’t committed any potential deal-breakers in the marriage such as have an affair or abuse the children.  And also notice that she didn’t focus on developing a list of Matt’s shortcomings.  She focused on learning what she could have done better.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more wisely.”   ~ Unknown

2)     Don’t Let The Tragedy Define Who You Are.  Angela chose to be seen by herself, her sons, her community and Matt as Being The Exception.  Even though she was sad and depressed, broken and defeated, she sought to figure out how to become better.
Nobody would have thought badly of her if she fell apart.  She would have been surrounded by compassion.  She realized she faced divorce either way.  She decided to push herself to find out what she is truly made of.

3)     Don’t Sit Around Feeling Sorry For Yourself.  The first three weeks were a blur.  She didn’t sleep much.  Angela lost twelve pounds.  Her eyes were practically swollen shut from non-stop crying.  She realized she couldn’t stay in this state of hopelessness.  A pity party wouldn’t benefit her or her children.  She started getting herself together.  Her grief continued but she processed it in increments.
4)    If You Won’t Do It For Yourself, Do It For Others.  Angela faced times when she wanted to quit; she didn’t want to get out of bed.  But she knew her children were counting on her.  She had also set a bar for herself, “I want to be the exception!”  She wanted to be an example to others.
5)    Ask For Help.  Angela mobilized the support of her parents and even though they are divorced they dropped their differences for the sake of their daughter and grandsons.
She entered into weekly therapy sessions for an opportunity to express and process her thoughts and feelings.
She also started going to church.  She wasn’t from this community and had never ventured beyond her home.  Her world had been very small but she realized if she didn’t tap into the available support, she might not make it on her own.

“In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.”    ~ Unknown

6)     Seek Sources of Inspiration.  Quotes from famous men and women who have overcome adversity can be very encouraging.  Movies and songs can also encourage.  Avoid the songs and movies that only stir up pain. Seek songs with lyrics that promote strength and hope.
Angela found the preacher’s sermons and the scriptures of the Bible very helpful.  These strengthened her resolve to be the exception!

7)     Reframe The Situation – Look For The Positive.  It felt like her world was falling apart.  She doubted if she could make it on her own.  Angela realized she needed to change her perspective.  She changed her thoughts to ones that reflected something good would come from this situation.  She would regularly tell me, “All things work together for the good to those who love the lord, and to those who are called according to His purpose.”  She sometimes said this with tears streaming down her cheeks as she gazed upward.  Even though she was around 5’1 in height; her spirit was much taller.

“Obstacles will look large or small to you according to whether you are large or small.”
~ Orison Swett Marden

8)     Be Willing To Try Again.  Resolve to start again.  Angela started exploring her options.  A move closer to her parents, going back to college, job opportunities.  She focused her mind in the direction of where she might find success and happiness.
9)    Things Will Get Better, They Always Do.  Hold onto these words of hope.  The sun will shine again.  Your resolve to learn from your adversity and defeat is essential so you don’t repeat your history.  When you review your life history you see that you have actually survived and perhaps even thrived over every tough time.  Since you know that you will get through this; go ahead and strive to be the exception now.

Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. Mark Webb is also the author of How To Be A Great Partner and founder of Partner Focused Relationships™.  Sign up for Mark Webb’s “Relationship Strategies”  Ezine ($100 Value).  Just visit his website at or

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