Reactions to Adversity

When oppression, rejection, and adversity come our way, we cannot change the outside forces. We can only choose how we react. When facilitating teams at Lake Geneva Ziplines and Adventures, we use a story to illustrate common reactions. As you read the story below, think of a time when you reacted to adversity. Which item represents your story?

A young adult went to their parent for advice on how to handle a problem. The parent listened to the full story. After a long silent moment, the parent said, “I can help you make a decision, but first, come with me into the kitchen.”

The young adult followed, and watched as their parent put several pots of water on the stove. Inside each, was placed a different object. Parent and child sat together as the water in the pots began to heat. The parent said, “The water represents the adversity you are facing. Each of these objects is affected by their surroundings, yet each reacts in a different way.” As the water reached a boil, the two removed them from the stove and placed them on the table in front of them. The parent instructed their child, “Take each item out of the water and tell me what changed.”

The young adult took a carrot out of the first pot. “The carrot went in hard, and came out soft and mushy.”

Out of the second pot came and egg. “The egg went in soft on the inside, but it has become hardened.”

The third pot had been given an ice cube. “The ice cube has disappeared. It is no different than the water that boiled it.”

A steaming rock was removed from the fourth pot. “The rock has become super heated.”

From the fifth and final pot, the young adult removed a spoonful of coffee grounds. “The water has changed colors.”

The parent nodded and explained. “When we face adversity, we may be like the carrot and turn to mush, letting others make decisions for us. We may be like the egg and become hardened and jaded. If we are like the ice, we mimic the dominate behaviors and lose ourselves and our morals. The rock remained unmoved throughout its time in the pot. It did not move around among the bubbles. In the end, it, like some of us, and leave our situation having learned nothing and walk away angry. For you, wish you the resilience to be like the coffee grounds. They changed their surroundings into something new, and we still able to leave smelling as delicious as when they entered.”