Women Take Note: 5 Tips for Turning Challenges Into Triumphs

Each of us, at some point in our lives, will face challenging situations. Some will face more than others, but we’ll all experience these. Getting fired or losing a job due to downsizing, the loss of a spouse, a cherished friend or other family long before their time, a financial setback, a divorce. These events test us – from our character and how we react to these calamities, to our strength and endurance in building a positive path to recovery and resilience.

Research has shown that women in the face of challenges actually have stronger resilience, in fact, than men as they age, leading to longer life spans and better health in terms of cardiac and cognitive function.

Andy Scharlach, a UC Berkeley professor of aging and director of its Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services notes:

“You become resilient by dealing with small-scale stressors that you’re able to learn from.  Women have many more opportunities to do that in their lives than men do, in part because they have more exposure to the stresses that come from being excluded from the privileges that come automatically to little boys. That continues throughout women’s lives as they carry different burdens and expectations from men. Women still carry more child rearing responsibilities. They carry more of the emotional load in families. The gender biases that exist either beat you down, or you develop a sense of yourself and others as being OK. Women also develop richer social networks than men that are not as work bound, and not as sports bound, or activity bound.”

But in the midst of your own personal setback, that may seem small comfort.

So as a woman, how can you best turn challenges into triumphs? At AdventureWomen, we’ve done a little research putting together a framework for turning challenges into triumphs – just for women.

Here are our 5 best tips for mastering the art of “transformative resilience”:

Get Clear and Grounded

By remaining grounded in the reality and facts of your situation and controlling your emotions as much as possible, it will be easier to move forward toward a path to resilience. Surround yourself with trusted associates, friends and family who can help provide an external perspective about your situation. Accept your new circumstances but don’t let them control you and how you respond to them.

Adventure women in Yellowstone (Leslie Stoltz)

Practice Self Compassion

Try not to take your situation too personally and remember, nothing is forever. Most of all, don’t blame yourself for what has happened. Recognize than many factors contributed to your setback other than whatever part you played in it.

Be Fierce in Your Determination

Using your attitude as a combative weapon in your resilience “arsenal” is critical. Channel your energy in positive directions to pull yourself forward and practice optimism. Hang out with positive friends and colleagues.

Reframe A Challenge Into An Opportunity

Use your stressful situation to create and promote positive change for you. Seize this as an opportunity for incremental learning, insights and personal growth, new connections with others. Look towards your future.

Leverage the Control You Have

Sometimes the most challenging aspect of bad situations is the feeling that you have or had no control over it happening to you but above all, resist the urge to collapse into a victim mode. Seize the control you do have over your life moving forward. You can do this by rewriting your story about what happened and framing it in “what I learned…where I’m going from here”. You can revisit times in your life when you overcame other challenges – successfully. You can give back to others facing their own demons and get out of your own head. You can take stress breaks and recovery breaks to recharge and regroup. And you can find new ways to get our of your comfort zone to challenge yourself in other small ways to help build your resilience stamina and skills.

We know, if you’re an Adventure Woman, whatever your setback, you’ll comeback. And congratulations to all of you – who already have.

For more on this important subject, take a deep-dive into these insightful books:

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” By Sheryl Sandberg and Dr. Adam Grant, a management and psychology professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges.” By Dr. Dennis Charney and Dr. Steven Southwick

Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World” by Stephanie and Ama Marston

“Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms.” By Andrea Redmond and Patricia Crisafulli