What is inner strength? What does it mean if you’re resilient? Are inner strength and resiliency the same thing? Do you think you have a sense of both? Are you born with them? What can you do to become stronger (we are talking mentally here, we are not talking physical strength)? If you are not born with it, can you develop it? Have you ever had to access it? What would be cause for you to need draw upon it?
Phew! Lots of questions right?! Things that maybe you have never thought of?
Your Struggles Create Your Strength
My simple belief is this: your struggles create your strength. I also believe we are born with a baseline level of inner strength. Does that mean you’re unable to develop or build more strength within yourself? No way! I believe you can build a larger sense of inner strength and form resiliency.
I honestly believe, to a certain extent, the level of happiness and joy you can feel in your life are directly related to your levels of both inner strength and resiliency.
“How can that be?” you ask?
Well, remember my simple belief: your struggles create your strength? What if your struggles are more than you ever fathomed? What if you were suddenly faced with an illness that you never expected, never heard of, or never knew even existed. An illness that took away someone you loved before your eyes. Imagine even bigger; imagine that someone is your child. Just imagine… or maybe you don’t want to. I get it, I understand. I never would have been able to either had it not happened to me, had I not been forced too. The rest of that story will come at a later time, now back to the topic of inner strength. What creates it?
Let’s Jump Into The Steps
I will share with you the steps that got me to a place of what I think is excellent inner strength and resiliency. How having an excellent almost unshakable inner strength can allow you to feel all of the happiness and joy that you were meant to experience!
Forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and, if applicable, others, for anything that could be to blame for the set of circumstances that put in a position of struggle. Holding a grudge or laying blame will never serve you or help you move forward. Changing your thought about the “reason” or circumstance that you are in is the only real way to allow yourself to forgive and move forward in positive direction. This is necessary, seriously learning or having the ability to give forgiveness and offer kindness to yourself and others will become the cornerstone to succeeding at living your best life.
Gratitude. Take time to express gratitude for all the blessings in your life. Spend time each day to purposefully acknowledge the tiniest details of things that make you happy, bring joy, or comfort you. Acts of kindness toward others, expressing gratitude toward the loved ones in your life, and sharing with them how thankful you are to have them in your life are some ways to go about this. I recommend developing some form of a “practice” to really cultivate this skillset. For me that started with a daily download of all the things that I could think of in that day to be grateful for. I usually do in the evening before bed (ok, confession…some days it just doesn’t happen, especially at first). I like to have a separate journal to write just gratitudes and keep it next to my bed, so I don’t forget. Think long and hard at first of as many things as you can think of and then once you get into the rhythm of acknowledging daily you can limit yourself to your top 5 things for each day. More importantly, take notice of how you feel as you are writing. How does your mind feel, your heart, and your breath? Are you becoming more relaxed? Does it feel good to see the things in more detail that may have only been tiny blurbs in a day of what seemed chaos and where nothing felt like it was easy or going how you planned? I promise this will become easier and you will develop another life skill that increases your happiness.
Community. Choose the people you spend time with wisely. Choosing to spend time with people that fill you, people that are positive in your life. Don’t let people drain your energy. Find the people that share your interests and your desires in life. Put yourself in places and opportunities to meet people who you share common interests with and are like-minded. Many years ago, I came across the concept that you become the product of the 5 people that you are the closest to. Honestly, this kind of freaked me out a bit at first and, made me, as a Mom, more vigilant with my sons to encourage them to really seek out people that emulated the lifestyle they wanted to attract for themselves. Personally, I have found this to be so true and beneficial. A great question you can ask yourself is, “do I want to be somewhere where I am the smartest person in the room?”. I like to do this, (sorry, not sorry)! It has challenged me and makes be on my “A game”. Make sense? This honestly says nothing negative about the other people there, unless you let it. This question can be especially helpful when it comes to social obligations, when life can seem to get uncomfortably “busy” or there seems to be more requests for your time than you have time to go around…trust me this happens! Let’s be clear I am not saying you should never put yourself somewhere where you feel like you “blend in”, there is a necessary level of social comfort that you need too, but I do encourage you to challenge yourself. Put yourself in places that are not comfortable, yes on purpose!
Movement. Find something daily that makes you move your body. Preferability get outdoors for a double benefit. For some people getting a dog that requires them to be consistent and responsible for walking their pet can be huge, not to mention the unconditional love that develops being an added bonus! Some other ideas are: having a daily walk routine, even using your lunch break at work, gentle yoga (stretching), rebounding, swimming, biking or dancing are wonderful. Adding in some weights 2-3 times per week to build muscle strength is optimal for long term health and bone strength. Movement combined with music can give an addition benefit and make the time go by even more quickly. Look at it this way: no one really wakes up wanting to do exercise but if you re-train your brain to want the feeling you get after you exercise that’s when you can truly make a change that will last. Focus on the effect and results you seek, not the action itself.
Confidence. Building your confidence can develop your inner strength remarkably well. Taking small steps in any direction toward the positive, whether it’s with forgiveness, gratitude, your community, or a daily exercise routine, it doesn’t matter! Finding success and feeling better will ultimately build your confidence. Confidence in yourself makes you stronger from the inside out. You can also build this by beginning a practice of daily affirmations. Start simple. Search positive affirmations online and you will see many to choose from. Select ones that feel appropriate to you. Write them down and read them aloud 1-2 times a day for 5 minutes or, better yet, record yourself saying them onto your smart phone and listen to them daily. You can listen to them while you’re brushing your teeth or even doing dishes. If you have the opportunity to sit down and take a few mindful minutes, this would be the best time to just focus on the affirmations. Committing to reciting them daily is the most important part. This may seem silly, but trust me, the change you will see in yourself will be remarkable. Remember, nothing builds confidence like being successful at something. Set yourself up for success. It’s ok to increase your odds – remember who’s side you’re on!
Celebrate Success. Take time to acknowledge your success. This doesn’t have to mean anything in particular, but if you set goals for yourself, be sure to celebrate when you achieve or reach a particular milestone. Success looks very different for everyone and that’s okay. You get to decide what success means to you. You are the one who gets to make the rules and you get to celebrate you! This can mean treating yourself to something like flowers, a massage, a glass of wine with someone special, or even just some alone time to read whatever you enjoy and that makes you feel good can be considered a celebration!
Reading and Other Forms of Personal Development. This is a biggie for me! I love to read, I love to listen to books on audio and great podcasts. Taking time each day to read or listen to something inspirational, motivational or learning something new fills me. Granted, somedays this doesn’t happen, but many days I make it happen regardless. I may choose to get up earlier in the morning to allow myself that time if I know my day is full or I may push myself a bit to stay up a little later than usual to get in some time before bed. You can also combine listening with walking for a 2 for 1. Another way to build on personal development is to attend trainings in areas that interest you, learning and expanding your knowledge base. For me, focusing on increasing my skills in coaching, leadership, public speaking and nutrition have been so fulfilling. This has been a huge part of increasing my inner strength and resiliency. Developing skills within myself that I never knew existed has made a huge difference in my life. These skills have increased my overall physical and mental health and wellness to a place I am very proud to say I have worked hard to create.
While I have shared with you 7 ways I have learned to increase and build my inner strength and resiliency, there are more. Life is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and yes, life is hard. For me, I have developed what I feel is a healthy sense of reality through building my inner strength and becoming more resilient.
One common thing that I often hear from people is, “I could never do what you do!”. That statement, as many times as I have heard it, always comes with a gut-wrenching feeling of…
NO ONE EVER ASKED ME if I wanted to handle all that I do.
If I had the choice, I am certain I would have chosen an easier path. The path I have been given has taught me so much and that’s why I want to share this with you. I have found a gratitude in my life that is beyond measure. I know my experiences are not the same as many and also, I know that there are many people that have experiences that are way harder and I respect that. I never get in the pool of comparison. That’s not helpful for anyone and staying as far away from that as possible is healthy for me. I am a firm believer in the concept of choice, choosing to do hard things or not. I am not afraid to do hard things. I am not afraid to make them look easy. Guess what? I don’t do that by accident! I do that because doing hard things and making them look easy takes extreme love, focus, determination, grit, and in the end makes you stronger if you succeed. Succeeding at this life thing, is the end goal. I remind myself daily that we have only one life to live, it’s short no matter how long you live, and why would you not want to enjoy the hell out of it?!
No matter what comes before you…if given lemons, yes I say make yo’self some lemonade! (and the entrepreneur in me says SELL the lemonade, LOL!!)
Love & blessings,
Resilient by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
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