I recently gave a workplace talk on the subject of Coping with Challenges. It’s a broad subject as the word “challenge” can have limitless meanings. My talks are always based on my own personal experiences and insights, and this was going to be no exception.
My first thought was to doubt that I am the right person for this topic. A healthy dose of “imposter syndrome”! After all, my challenges aren’t as significant as many who have personal experience with illness, loss, or other life-changing challenges. Yet, I have experienced many of my own challenges over recent years. Although I have felt so happy since my daughter Freya was born over 3 years ago, my life has felt harder at the same time. There have been many real challenges for me, on an emotional as well as a practical level. And there continue to be new ones arising.
Also, the internal struggles that I experienced during the years when I longed to be a mother, were personal challenges of a different kind.
There is no escaping the fact that challenges are a natural part of life. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and nobody is immune to them.
Happy despite challenges
The good news is that challenges are not necessarily negative. They are part of life. We can still feel happy and experience immense joy when we are experiencing challenges!
Our struggles don’t have to knock us down. I believe that they can make us stronger and more resilient. Our challenges can make us more resourceful, giving us fuel to find solutions.
But what if there is no solution to our challenge? Then are we able to learn ways to navigate our challenges, somehow finding new qualities within ourselves that will help us find some ease and grace.
We all have the capacity to transform our challenges to opportunities for change, growth, and ultimately greater happiness and fulfilment. Our challenges can become our greatest gifts.
How can we get there in the midst of our difficulties?
Acceptance and support Ever kept your head in the sand when you’re experiencing a difficulty? Maybe you dive into excessive work, or exercise, or unhealthy habits. This may seem to help initially, but won’t help you over time. Pushing our difficulties aside, or burying challenging emotions deep inside, will only cause us more harm than good. This is where it can be so helpful to work with a professional, such as a coach or a psychotherapist (note: both with a very different approach). Or speaking with a trusted friend may also make a big difference. It can take courage to talk about our challenge(s). But finding the right people to talk to is a key step in moving forward. We all need people that we can trust, so we can openly share our vulnerabilities in a safe way. What we need most is compassion, empathy, and non-judgement. We need open listening. We may also need some practical support too.
Mind yourself, mind your boundaries This can mean so many things to each of us. Trying to eat well, getting some exercise if possible, avoiding excess, and getting good sleep, are extra important when we’re experiencing challenges. Minding our emotional and mental health are also key. Boundaries are a vital part of self-care. A boundary is an energy field or a “barrier” that protects body, mind and spirit from harm. It’s a non-negotiable rule. Healthy boundaries help you say no to some things, and yes to what is vital to your wellbeing. Our boundaries may need to be adjusted when we’re challenged, to enable us to take care of ourselves.
Challenge your perspective We can all get stuck in negativity when things go wrong. But negativity feeds negativity! We need to get unstuck from negativity, and to challenge our perspective. Seek out the possibilities here. Are there any opportunities that may arise from this challenge? For example, if you experience a job loss, what opportunities may be out there, that you never would have considered otherwise. Whatever our challenges, we can choose how we see things. While it’s not always possible to find a silver lining, there may be something positive that will emerge as a result of our difficulties.
Whatever challenges you may be experiencing, I want to remind you that “this too shall pass”. Your experience, your feelings, will pass. More challenges will lie ahead, more experiences will be lived.
Our challenges make us vulnerable. Our vulnerabilities are what makes us human. An authentic, empathic human.
I don’t think it’s possible to experience real joy without knowing vulnerability, without knowing difficulties.
To me, that is the greatest gift of our challenges.
Article by Kerry White
I hope that this article will help you gain some new insight or perspective that will help you no matter what challenges you're experiencing. If you'd like to get in touch to find out how I can support you, or simply to provide your feedback, I would love to hear from you.
Kerry White is a Motherhood Clarity Coach, supporting women who are contemplating pursuing an alternative path to motherhood.
She is also a Workplace Wellbeing Facilitator, Keynote Speaker, Holistic Coach, Shiatsu Therapist and Yoga Teacher. Kerry is especially passionate about supporting women feel well on every level - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
Read more about Kerry's story here.