Read these adversity quotes to help you open your heart and mind to the gifts and opportunities granted only through hardship. I can personally attest to the beauty that's entered my life that may not have entered if it wasn't for the worst things that happened. My hope is that you, too, can embrace your power to change, even if it’s not what you had in mind.
“Use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it.” — Maya Angelou
I start this little collection of adversity quotes off with the above sentiment because anger tends to be one of those uncomfortable side-effects of hardship.
But, just because something is uncomfortable, unwanted, or even irritating, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be experiencing it, or that it can’t help us.
Every emotion has its place and message—anger can grant insight into a greater struggle. Perhaps it’s like author Liz Palmer says: “Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” This is one example of how we can wear layers, some we don’t realize are there and which we only realize are there when we commit to exploring our internal environment.
If we stay and listen to what’s showing up for us, we’ll likely hear answers to the questions that have been nagging at us, and maybe we’ll uproot answers to the questions we didn’t even know we had.
Busyness is a great way to avoid the real hard and heart work of identifying how we can better help ourselves.
Adversity is a sign that you’re struggling with something, naturally, but how often do you actually get still enough to sift through the layers of frustration until you get to the core of why you’re struggling?
Are you being too hard on yourself? Have you been avoiding something that needs resolution? What are you doing (or not doing) to help yourself through this time?
It’s hard to control the weather, but what you CAN do is learn how to control how you approach and respond to it.
Below I share seven of my favorite adversity quotes and some personal thoughts on each. My notes aren’t all-encompassing, to be sure, but just what came to mind when I read the quote.
7 Adversity Quotes to Encourage Meaningful Transformation
1. “Although adversity that is not overcome can create a story of depressing bleakness, substantial adversity might be necessary for a meaningful story.” — Jonathan Haidt
By making sense of tragedy and putting the pieces back together in a way that feels more cohesive than ever before, we can tell a story of post-traumatic growth.
2. “Sweet are the uses of adversity, / Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, / Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” — Shakespeare
I find so much meaning, and get to bring so much meaning to what I do now, and that's only true because a seed was planted in the dark soil of adversity. No, I'm not grateful for what caused the pain, but I AM grateful for what I chose to do with it.
Sitting in the darkness, I realized that I was being brought closer to a true understanding of the light.
3. “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” — James Lane Allen
This quote reminds me that a challenging moment or season might have something to reveal that is ready to be shown. If I’m ready and willing to see it, I might even be revealed to myself.
4. “Suffering often makes people more compassionate, helping them find balance between self and others.” — Jonathan Haidt
The ability to access shared empathy and engage compassionately with others. A gift of suffering. When we realize that no one is an island, that we’re connected in ways we could never have planned for, life becomes worthy of at least a little bit of awe, even after everything.
5. “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” — Rumi
How could we understand the deeper beauty, power, and potential of who we are if we were never prompted to go inward? Self-transformation hurts but what hurts, I’ve found, is not necessarily a punishment more than it is an opportunity to know yourself better.
Hardship is part of the divine unfolding of our innate power.
6. “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.” — J.K. Rowling
The knowledge that you can survive what you thought would destroy you is a gift that’s more precious than any gemstone.
7. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” — Maya Angelou
I think of the words “resilience” and “intentional.” It's hard to be the sky and not the storm clouds, but I’ve seen enough people be strengthened or deepened by adversity to know that post-traumatic growth isn't impossible. And it doesn't mean you sidestep any of the pain. It means you grow with the pain, not away from it.
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Which of these quotes is your favorite?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know!