As humans, we all can expect to experience an ambush of some kind during our lives. In particular, the coronavirus pandemic that came from out of the blue this year and infected hundreds of thousands around the globe, causing more than 1.3 million deaths to date, also shuttered businesses, affecting 3.3 billion jobs. COVID ambushed the lives of people globally.
At the same time, life ambushes are some of our greatest teachers. They teach us perspective. They teach us gratitude. We understand the fragility of life better because of challenging experiences, and we have more to offer the world because of what we’ve survived.
But to gain this perspective, we have to find a way to move beyond what has brought anger, guilt, emptiness or pain. Doing so requires adopting a mindset that believes it’s not only possible to overcome adversity, but it’s imperative.
When a life ambush comes, responses typically follow one of three paths:
The first path destroys those hit by the ambush. They’re paralyzed and make no effort to improve the situation. They become defeated knowing that their life has been irrevocably changed. Not only do they lose the person they used to be, but they become lesser versions of themselves.
The second path leads those who suffered a catastrophic event through to the other side, but it’s always a point of struggle. Fearing further loss, they reject opportunities for growth and become stagnant.
Those who follow the third path are able to turn an ambush into a launching point. Instead of being defined by their loss, they choose to distinguish themselves for the challenges they’ve overcome. They’ve adopted an overcome mindset.
I learned about developing an overcome mindset after barely surviving an ambush in Iraq while serving as a Navy SEAL. To recover physically, I had six blood transfusions, underwent 40 reconstructive surgeries, wore a tracheotomy for seven months and endured multiple months of physical therapy. To recover mentally, I labeled the day I was wounded as my “rebirth day.” My ambush launched me into a new trajectory so that I didn’t just survive, I thrived. My purpose is now to share with others how to sustain recovery long-term and relaunch their lives after a catastrophic ambush.
Whether it’s confronting the loss of a loved one, a crippling health issue, termination from a job or some other tragedy, the overcome mindset can allow you to triumph over adversity. Here are some guidelines for developing the mindset:
- Learn acceptance. You don’t have to accept that what happened is right or okay, because maybe it isn’t. Face it: life isn’t always fair. But you do have to accept that you’re living in this new state, so begin to make adjustments to your thinking and actions that match your new reality. You may be battling depression, anxiety, PTSD or any number of difficulties after your ambush. Instead of fighting against them with anger and denial, accept them for what they are. Seek help if needed and commit to the long-term healing needed to move through them.
- Choose action over inaction. When you get into an ambush, you’ve got to REACT (a step-by-step process to deal with any ambush). Explore the actions you can take toward living a full life again. Recognize that there are no easy ways out, only forward motion — one step at a time, one day at a time. Stop allowing yourself to be stuck in a vulnerable position. Just the first step toward living again will show you that you’ve got this!
- Face the dragon. Whatever life ambush you’re facing — a physical setback, bankruptcy, divorce or some other unexpected hardship, it will leave its scars on you. Your life won’t ever be the same as before and you shouldn’t expect it to be. Understand that overcoming isn’t about vanquishing the dragon so you return to your past self. It’s about acknowledging that the dragon now lives within you. Resolve to slowly learn to touch the dragon so that you can live with it. Once you reach that point where you own the bad incident and can control it, there’s no longer negative energy pinning you down.
- Expect obstacles. The overcome mindset is a no-excuses, forward motion attitude. It’s a mental commitment to lean into the storm and drive forward. As you move forward, you’re going to continue to meet resistance, and possibly consequences from your past actions. Face those challenges head-on. Recognize that adversity can turn into opportunity. Don’t ignore the difficulties and obstacles. See them, name them and resolve to move through them no matter what.
It’s never too late to adopt an overcome mindset. It’s never too late to choose the path that leads to your triumphant comeback.
Written by Jason Redman.