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Overcoming Adversity – The STEPS Formula Part I

What you would do in the face of some terrible event or challenge?

Do you have it within you to survive, recover, and build a new life?  This can be tough to do if facing a serious illness, job loss, divorce, etc. – you get the picture.  There is no guarantee that you will come through the adversity, as there is uncertainty as to what the outcome will be.  So, what do you do from here?

For me, what appeared to be an insurmountable mountain when faced with life-threatening injuries as a college senior, turned out to be one of the best things that happened in my life.

If I hadn’t learned how to overcome brain injury, memory loss, temporary paralysis, among other injuries, I wouldn’t be the successful person I have become today.  Sound crazy?  It’s not.  I learned the secret formula for overcoming adversity to now living the life I really want.

Curious to know what this formula is?

Three weeks into my senior year at Ball State University, four sorority sisters and I finished conducting rush parties at another college and were returning to Ball State, when we were involved in a car crash.  The driver of our vehicle lost control of it in the wind shear of two passing semis, and we were broadsided by a third.

When the screeching and grinding came to a halt, the two girls buckled in the front seats were able to exit the car and walk away.

Unlucky Break

The three unbuckled girls, which included me, in the back weren’t so lucky.  Two were instantly killed; I was the only backseat survivor.  The injuries I sustained were massive.  When I woke up out of my six-day coma, I had to relearn how to eat, breathe, walk, talk, think, drive, and be re-potty trained.

Being twenty-two years old in a wheelchair, wearing adult diapers, paralysis to half of my body, and having memory loss wasn’t where I thought I would be at this age.  What was I to do with the rest of my life?  I decided to use my STEPS process to overcome adversity and start down the road to being successful again.

The first “S”

The first “S” in STEPS formula of overcoming adversity is to Surrender, let go of things I couldn’t control.  Day by day, it seemed like I was getting something back that was taken away.  My balance was getting better.  I started remembering more and overcoming short-term memory issues.  Wanting to gain some resemblance of my former life, I re-enrolled back at Ball State in a new major since I lost memory of my previous one.

I learned that I had to let go of things I couldn’t control.

I couldn’t control that a semi-tractor nearly took my life and left me with a shattered body.  Sure, I could be angry, but what good would do?  I needed to surrender and let go of these events.  And, I needed to forgive.  The anger and bitterness that I may have had for the truck driver weren’t being felt by him.  I was feeling and harboring it in my life, which is destructive.  I chose not to live in the past, but the present.  So, I let these feelings go.

Stay tuned to learn the other four pieces of the STEPs formula in upcoming posts.  They could help you overcome adversity to living the successful life you really want. But until then, remember that challenges are common…suffering is optional.