We all tend to admire strong people; those who seem to move through life with grace and ease, even in the worst of circumstances. They don’t fall into self-pity, defeat, or anger. They just smile and say “tomorrow will be a better day.” Their sense of inner strength is outwardly noticeable.
But are some of us just naturally born that way, or is inner strength something we can all develop?
Dr. Karin Smithson, author, therapist, and founder of thefatherlessdaughterproject.com, contends that inner strength is, indeed, something that can be developed.
No need to beat yourself up for feeling weak, hate yourself for falling apart, or compare yourself to others—wishing you could hold it together (just like so-and-so does). You can begin developing your inner strength today by following Dr. Smithson’s
10 Ways to Build Inner Strength.
1. Look back on your survival instincts of the past. Remind yourself of times when you survived, got through challenges, and even surprised yourself. See strength in your own abilities and fighting power. Don’t underestimate your own resilience. You have roared before and will roar again.
2. Trust your inner pilot light — your core. Find power in your inner self and know that you were created with a spirit as your force field, even if it feels weakened. Your glow is not extinguishable, and it was created to rekindle itself.
3. Focus on the story of your entire life beyond the crisis. Practice seeing yourself rise above the pain, looking back and peering forward at the values, experiences and goals of your whole life. Remind yourself that you are bigger than this, and that you will get back to you again. You have a lot of living yet to do.
4. Lean on your “trusted few” — friends, family, or counselors who know you and who will root for you without judgment. Ask for understanding, encouragement and TLC. Ask them to remind you of your strengths and listen to them. That is why these blessed relationships are in your life, and one day, you might do the same for them.
5. Find motivation from your outer strength. The key to feeling strong is holistically creating a solid foundation. While your energy levels might be low, make sure that you are doing something — anything — to tend to your physical self. Lift weights (even if they are soup cans), walk in nature, feed your body healthy food and get your sleep.
6. Make real attempts to be surrounded by positive people and atmospheres that make you feel good, energized and motivated. Limit any time around negative people or energy. Exit if you are starting to feel bad about yourself. Stay longer if you are feeling inspired.
7. Keep a “feel-good folder” of emails, letters and compliments that remind you how fierce you are. Anytime you receive a compliment that makes you feel strong, save it in a real or electronic file. You will likely forget the praise when you are at your lowest, and this will give you evidence of the positive effects you have on people’s lives. Let these words validate your worth, breathing hope over you again.
8. Carve out time to do that thing that you are really good at. Part of pulling yourself out of a sad place is reminding your body how to release endorphins back into your system. A quick way to do this is to do what you have loved in the past — your system will reward you. Do you love playing piano? Painting? Writing? Singing? Crafting? Working on cars? Skiing? Whatever made you feel good about you in the past is what your body needs right now. Often.
9. Do something meaningful in the meantime, as time will keep passing anyway. These were some of the wisest words ever spoken to me and why I started volunteering and taking classes after the bottom dropped out of my world. They were actually the two things that ended up making me feel the strongest in the long run. Volunteer. Create something. Finish your degree. Paint that room. Be constructive and your heart will strengthen while you’re not looking.
10. Develop and nurture a spiritual connection to a higher power, a purpose greater than this. Ask for spiritual guidance, comfort and grounding in your journey. Stay open to receiving divine gifts in the most wonderful, surprising ways, and believe that you deserve them when they show up. Meditate. Pray. Be mindful. Trust that you are going to move past this thing and that the universe wants that for you as well.
By implementing some, or all of these ideas, you can change the way you respond to life’s many challenges. Chances are you’re already stronger than you think, so develop areas of weakness while continuing to stand in your own beautiful strength.