7 ways to maintain your dignity in the face of adversity

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Adversity hits us all, sooner or later. 

It’s an unfortunate fact that nobody can escape from. But you can still choose how you handle the situation.

You can crumple under the pressure, or you can maintain your dignity. 

How? Here are 7 ways to do it. 

1) Stick to your principles

The first thing you need to keep in mind in order to maintain your dignity in the face of adversity is to stick to your principles.

What are they? Perhaps it’s honesty, bravery, or putting family first.

Most people are very good at sticking to their core values when everything is going well.

But when things get tough, it’s easy to convince ourselves it’s okay to bend the rules. 

It may even feel completely necessary in the moment. But afterwards, you’ll feel terrible because you didn’t act in alignment with who you want to be.

You’ll have tarnished your image in a way that you can’t take back.

So to stay dignified, make sure you stay strong and remember what’s most important to you. 

2) Be honest

If you want to maintain your dignity in the face of adversity, it is crucial to be honest.

This is especially the case with mistakes – they are an integral part of being human. If you’ve done something wrong, lying about it won’t fool anyone.

It will just damage your reputation in a way that’s quite difficult to repair. So instead, take the high road. Own up to your actions, admit any wrongdoings, and make amends if possible. 

People will respect you for not being scared to look reality in the eye, and for being sincere with them. 

I saw this not long ago when a very popular influencer made a thoughtless comment that came across as transphobic and upset a lot of people online.

Her page flooded with criticism and negative comments trying to cancel her. She could have just made a simple apology, deleted her post, and affirmed that she meant no harm and therefore did nothing wrong.

But instead, she admitted that this incident made it clear to her that she still had a lot to educate herself about, so that she wouldn’t cause anyone any unnecessary pain. 

She set up a live call between her and a well-known transgender advocate to have a discussion about acceptance and inclusivity.

I find that the way she reacted to this problem says a lot more about her than the fact that she made a mistake to begin with – she carried herself through it with respect and dignity. 

3) Lean on people you trust

Adversity can be highly personal to you — a legal battle, a competitive colleague, or brief over a lost relationship. But that doesn’t mean you have to weather the storm alone.

In fact, leaning on other people that you trust helps you maintain integrity in the face of adversity.

They will help you keep your focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, and offer a different perspective when you feel you get lost in negative emotions or doubts. 

It’s important to choose the right people to fill this role — they should be people who are willing to back you up and stand beside you no matter what, but also be honest with you when it matters most.

They can help give you insights that could be key for helping you handle the adversity, and grow as a person

We all need someone in our corner who is able to gently tell us things we need to hear, even when it might be uncomfortable. 

4) Don’t get defensive

When you’re facing a difficult challenge, a lot of people find themselves getting defensive.

This is a very natural protection mechanism. You want to conserve your self-image and confidence, and this is a really good thing.

Maybe you’re being wrongfully attacked, or your ideas are being ridiculed by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

If this happens, remember that the path of integrity is to not react.

Just because someone says or thinks something, doesn’t make it true. If you get very defensive, you only give merit to what they say. 

So take the higher road and just let it slide. You know where the truth lies.

5) Look to the future, not the past

Adversity is hard to get through, but it will eventually end.

If you want to maintain your dignity in the face of it, you must keep your eyes on the future. That’s where you’re headed after all.

Keep yourself focused on what you need to achieve and the actions that will support you getting there.

If you keep looking back, you’re only slowing yourself down. You will surely make mistakes as you progress, but don’t get fixated on them or else you’ll get stuck on your path.

For example, someone close to me was recently struggling with financial issues. She had a period of time that was very uncertain, with many unexpected expenses.

But she was able to pull through because she stayed focused on her goal of financial independence and stability. She applied to jobs, cut expenses where she could, and thought carefully about purchases. 

And sure enough, she was soon in a much better place. 

6) Set boundaries

The next tip is something we often talk about in the context of relationship problems, but is crucial to apply when facing adversity too. It’s setting boundaries.

No matter what you’re going through, there is definitely a line where you shouldn’t tolerate a certain type of behavior. 

Even if you made a terrible mistake, or you understand that the situation is very stressful for everyone involved, you deserve a level of dignity.

But nobody will protect it if you don’t. You have to clearly communicate your limits to others, and express your needs assertively. Be firm but respectful when addressing any mistreatment or disrespect. 

A scene from Suits comes to mind here — one character had made a mistake and cheated on her boyfriend. She admitted this to him, and obviously was facing uncertainty in her relationship.

Her boyfriend was understandably hurt, but he kept using it as a weapon against her. 

Eventually, she put her foot down and said that she was truly sorry, but he had to either decide he could not get over what happened and end their relationship, or put it behind him once and for all.   

7) Embrace a positive mindset

The last way to maintain your dignity in the face of adversity is by embracing a positive mindset.

This is truly for yourself, because you need something to get you through the difficult situation you’re experiencing.

It’s much easier to do with optimism rather than a “doom and gloom” mindset. Reframe negative thoughts and focus on the potential for growth and opportunity. 

Cultivate gratitude for things you have and the lessons you’ve learned from adversity. 

Aside from being very helpful to you personally, other people will also see your strength and courage, and admire you for it deeply. 

You’ll show yourself to be someone resilient and above all, dignified.

Staying dignified when facing adversity

I’m sorry that you’re going through adversity — we’ve all been there, and I know I sure have.

It isn’t easy, but I hope that the signs above will help you find a better way to cope with the situation.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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