The Power of Suffering: Growing Through Life’s Crises

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It’s a fact of life that we’re all going to experience adversity and suffering in our lives. So many factors and events are outside of our control, and despite our best efforts to create the perfect life, tragedy still occurs. How does a person overcome personal adversity?

But, psychological research shows us that it is possible to grow from tragedy, rather the simply be consumed by it.  Going through difficult times filled with negative thoughts can affect your state of mind and degrade your mental health over the long term. But in the face of adversity successful people learn more from the tough times than when everything is going right. It is in dealing with adversity (and overcoming adversity) that we build the resilience for smaller problems and find our greatest personal development. In tragedy, we find a better day, life improves with challenges.

This week on the podcast we’re speaking with David Roland. David is a writer, presenter, and psychologist from Australia. For much of his career, he worked as a clinical and forensic psychologist, and on the outside, he had the perfect life.  

After experiencing PDSD, depression, and ultimately a stroke, David devoted this latter half of his career to helping people move through suffering and grow as a result of adversity.  

In this conversation, he offers some things for us to think about in terms of how we cope with trauma and tragedy and how we might ourselves grow when we’re faced with life’s challenges. Not only that, but he offers such empathetic and kind advice about how we can be a supportive companion to others who might be experiencing suffering, rather than the awkwardness and distance we so often feel compelled to feel when others are going through something difficult. 

Life will not always be perfect. We all will experience adversity in our lives, and it is absolutely critical that we develop skills for coping with it and growing as a result. You won’t want to miss this powerful episode.  

Learn more about David Roland and his books at . 

At the beginning of the episode, I mentioned a new quiz that we’ve recently released to see how you rank on 2 new factors that contribute to burn-out, overwhelm, and the feelings of guilt we tend to feel when we take time for ourselves. You deserve to feel calm, balanced, and supported in being your best self. The first step is the self-awareness of the factors that might be working against you. Head over to to see how you rank on these 2 new cutting-edge factors and get access to a set of tools to help you move through it. 


How A Skinned Knee Had Me Feeling Grateful

I have to share a painful/slightly hilarious story with you.

I’m currently training for my first half-marathon. Yesterday, I was a little over 7 miles into my planned 8 mile run, and I was feeling good. Really good, in fact, so I picked up the pace. I crossed 75th Street, the busiest intersection on my route, and the next thing I know, my face was plummeting toward the ground.

  • “What’s happening?”
  • “I’m falling!”
  • “This is bad!”
  • “My face is going to hit the pavement.”
  • Images of teeth shattering (one of my front teeth is already half fake because of a bike riding/pavement situation as a kid)
  • “I’m hurt!”

Those were the thoughts that blinked through my mind in a jumbled instant.

Thankfully, I was able to stop my momentum at the last second, with my face hovering an inch from the ground, teeth intact. Stunned, I pushed myself up as a red minivan pulled into the nearby parking lot to make sure I was ok (did I mention it was a busy intersection? There were SO MANY cars stopped at the light, witnessing my fall.)

I was also able to stop my mind. Paying attention to the present moment I began to look around and breathe through my emotions.

Then another thought entered my mind: “You fell. You can’t run anymore.”

Fortunately, I was able to set that thought aside before it could take hold. I quickly assessed the damage, realized I was shaken but not seriously injured, got up, and finished my run. I even beat my goal time.

I was on a path I’d traversed 100 times. I didn’t feel myself trip or stumble. I didn’t see it coming. Yet, I fell. Hard. And it sucked. Yet I called in some positive emotions. 

And I got back up and persevered.

As I finished my run then bandaged myself up at home, I reflected on what happened, and this is where the feelings of gratitude came in. 

Gratitude is more than a throwaway emotion. It’s a verb. An active, not a passive thing. Truly being grateful, meaning that we are actively feeling and showing that gratitude, is really more of an action taking place.

I was feeling grateful to my past self for all the hard work she’s done to build psychological strength. That work was the reason I was able to get up and move forward so quickly. I had my eye on the goal and a clear sense of who I am.

  • I’m the kind of person who can handle painful things.
  • I’m the kind of person who doesn’t let my mind take me off course.
  • I’m the kind of person who isn’t afraid of failure.

I can handle painful things.

I don’t like pain. I mean, who does? Yet, aspects of psychological strength help me move through painful experiences without getting crushed. 

Yesterday, it was my mindfulness and acceptance skills that allowed me to notice and assess the painful sensations throughout my body without my mind turning up the pain volume. I didn’t realize when I started cultivating these particular skills just how crucial and widely applicable they’d be.

I don’t let my mind take me off course.

Minds are masterful excuse generators. They are SO GOOD at making up reasons and giving us justifications for not doing hard or uncomfortable things. Part of the psych strength work I’ve been focusing on lately is noticing when my mind is giving me those excuses, even the really plausible, completely rational sounding ones like “You just fell. You can’t run anymore.”

The reality is, I was stunned, slightly embarrassed, and in pain, but I wasn’t really injured. I saw the Excuse Generator for what it was and quelled it before it even had a chance to really get going.

I am not afraid of failure.

This one hasn’t always been true me. As a (mostly) recovered perfectionist, I’ve had to do a lot of work to redefine my relationship with failure so that it doesn’t hold me back, and it’s an ongoing process. Even after all the work I’ve done, deep down I still don’t like being wrong, making mistakes, or failing. It’s disappointing, and it hurts, especially when you’re feeling really confident and don’t see it coming.

That said, I am getting much better at picking myself up, dusting myself off, and persevering despite bruises (to my body or my ego). I’m steadily working on becoming the kind of person who Is not afraid to falter, who can own mistakes without internal angst, and who can even find the humor in my biggest fails.

I am grateful.

So here I am, a 40 year old woman with a bandaged up skinned knee and a deep sense of gratitude. I am grateful for the work I’ve done to build my psychological strength, for the community who supports my journey, and for the opportunity to help others.

I practice what we teach at Peak Mind every day, and it’s had a real impact on my life experience. I want the same for you.

That’s why we created ASCEND, our most comprehensive endeavor to date. ASCEND includes the best of everything we know that goes into building psychological strength.

You, too, can have a strong sense of who you are and be the kind of person you want to be. You, too, can pick yourself up and move forward through painful times. You can build skills like mindfulness and acceptance, and you can learn to find the bright spots even in the darkest moments. 

You won’t regret the effort you put into building psychological strength. I know I haven’t. 

“Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial.”
– Ross Perot

6 Steps to Handling Your Most Adverse Situations

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I want you to think about the last time you experienced adversity. Big, small, it doesn’t matter.  

Most of us have a pretty easy time coming up with adversity because we face it ALL THE TIME. In EVERY facet of our lives.  

Our relationships, our careers, and our day-to-day life. We experience adversity all the time. 

Unfortunately, our mind’s natural tendency when things get difficult is to try to avoid them. To chatter at us, to try to influence us to have a drink, distract ourselves, or procrastinate until the problem goes away. We attempt to avoid, and we miss out on the opportunity to thrive through adversity and grow stronger as a result of it. 

Today, in this episode, I want to dive deep into the topic of psychological flexibility. This is a skill that has been shown to help people, not only move through adversity but THRIVE through it and grow as a result of it. 

Specifically, I want to dive deep into the 6 facets of psychological flexibility and give you some tips and tricks for applying them when you’re in a challenging situation in the future. 

This skill is something you learn, not something you check the box on. This means you’re likely to be pretty bad at it at first. That’s ok! It’s going to feel awkward. But, as you keep practicing, you’ll get better, smoother, and more natural. And, the power of this skill will go to work for you. 

Stick around to the end of this episode. I open up and talk about my personal experience giving my TEDx talk last year. I don’t remember very many other times in my life when I was that anxious and afraid. It was the 6 steps that I share in this episode that got me through it. You can watch my TEDx talk here:  

I want the same for you. I want you to be able to confront your toughest situations head-on, and thrive through them. 

I know you can. It just takes a little practice. We’re here to support you. Good luck! 


 How to Cope More Effectively With Adversity

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Think of a time when you faced something really difficult – a time when you had to cope with something. Get a clear picture of that time in your mind, and think about the emotions you experienced. 

Now let me ask you this: what was the approach you took for coping with that situation? 

Was your approach more pointed toward “making yourself feel better” by focusing on the emotions you were feeling? Or, did you focus more on the situation to try to change it or accept it? 

There are lots of personal experiences and adverse events that come in tough times and it’s how we cope with adversity that can be the difference between building resilience and feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, high-stress levels or just generally negative thoughts, we become stronger when we overcome adversity and create better mental health. Much like other parts of life, we must build a mental immune system when dealing with adversity but this goes beyond deep breaths and meditation.

Today, we’re talking about 2 different types of coping that people use to move through adversity: emotion-focused coping and problem-focused or situation-focused coping. In the face of adversity we can spend time building long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes.

In this episode, not only do we unpack these 2 types of coping, but we dive into the nuance of what it means to cope in each way. Times when each type of coping works, and times when it doesn’t. 

Finally, we end with a couple of practical, straight-forward, yet very effective strategies you can use to support yourself when you’re going through something that is requiring all of your coping skills.  

We so hope you find value in this episode, and we’d love it if you would share it with someone else who might need support at this time.