I’m not going to claim to be an authority on strength or what makes someone strong. I believe strength is a character trait that people develop. It’s built through surviving challenging life experiences. In essence, strength, at it’s core, is resilience. It’s the ability to pick yourself up after challenging times, brush yourself off and move forward. It’s letting go of the weight and stories of the past.
I see strength in someone who is principled. When one chooses to be ethical, their thoughts inform behaviour built with integrity. They tend to take a few breaths to regroup when they hear difficult news. When someone puts themselves out there and takes risks in business or in social situations, they are often believed to be strong. Other people might comment, “Oh, I could never do that.” When in fact they are deploying their courage, and develop strength through doing.
Others often say I am strong. This has left me perplexed. In my younger days, my strength was an appearance: when I was stunned by a behaviour or by words, I would simply not respond. This gave the illusion of grace, but it was actually a lack of emotional awareness. I was unsure of what to say. I still employ that response, but now I use it to think before I speak.
I used to hold tight to my desire for control. It gave me an appearance of being strong. But the control was about the fear of going with the flow. If I went with the flow, I’d have to allow things that happened around me to not affect me, but if I manipulated situations to the way I wanted them I would get outcomes that I wanted.
There are many aspects of my life where I don’t have the control I would like to have. I battled more when I want control, and I lose my vitality when I hold onto control. I’ve been in this situation more than most people I know, having had to let go of dreams and the perception of control over and over again. Instead of becoming numb – a normal response when we are hurt regularly and don’t have the opportunity to be heard – I learned to channel that energy into things I’m passionate about.
To build your strength, you must learn to still yourself when life becomes tremendously uncomfortable. Do not travel, do not fill every minute with doing; learn how you distract yourself. Listen more than you speak. Trust that you will be OK and that you don’t need someone to make you OK. Strength develops through being conscious and learning through experience, not from projecting experiences onto others. It develops when you have the tenacity to soften and assimilate your experiences, emotions and responses; the only way to do that is by being quiet and finding peace in uncomfortable experiences.
You know people like this: those who’ve been through wars, either intense armed conflict or self-created battles, but are calm and clear unlike anyone you know. They had to build that. They took the violence and made meaning of it, even when it seemed impossible that something positive could come of it. Through peace, we manifest strength.
“They asked her,
“Where does inner peace come from?”
“Inner peace is not created easily, it does not happen overnight and no one can give it to you. It is a home you build within yourself, a mountaintop away from chaos, a heaven of clear perception. It is a way of being that happens when you embrace change. It is the result of deeply knowing and loving yourself.””
From ~ yung pueblo
If we realize that the act of building strength and resilience is a revolution, we’d stop trying to have power over others and learn to empower ourselves.