Are you feeling betrayed? Vulnerable? Worried about a health diagnosis, job layoff or relationship?
Maybe those financial pressures are catching up with you. Or you’re grieving over the loss of a close family member or friend. So many families are embroiled in addiction crises.
There’s no question a lot of folks are going through tough times right now. You — or those around you — may well be struggling.
And it’s only human to have doubts. Until you’ve been thrown into the fire and come out the other side, you never know how strong you are.
Developing mental strength
Sure, you’ve been beaten down. Externally and internally. No wonder you have a lot of negative self-talk going on.
Just because you think you’re not strong enough to handle something doesn’t mean it’s true, though.
Strength doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It doesn’t mean you have all the answers. It means you have the ability to keep going — putting one foot in front of the other — even when fear and doubt say you can’t.
For example, thinking “I can’t deal with my job any longer,” will cause you to exaggerate your inability to tolerate stress, according to psychotherapist Amy Morin. You may be wasting evenings dreading going to work — and spending your workdays complaining about your stress level.
As a result, you’ll increase your stress and reinforce that you’re not strong enough to handle things. Eventually, you’ll probably quit, says Morin — not because you really wanted to, but because you convinced yourself you weren’t strong enough to handle the job.
Don’t believe self doubts
Prove to yourself you’re strong enough to tolerate more than you think, as Morin shares in these perspectives:
- Thinking you can’t stand something influences how you feel. You’ll likely feel a sense of dread, anxiety or even anger as you approach something you think you can’t tolerate. Your thoughts become increasingly negative, creating a downward spiral of self-doubt. So, stop the cycle.
- Giving up can become a habit. Quitting every time you face a new challenge can change how you view yourself. You may begin to believe you’re a failure — because you can’t seem to stick with things long enough to see results.
And remember to pat yourself on the back once in awhile. We have a tendency to underrate our abilities. What you may see as a no-brainer in your skill set, others see as amazing!
Deciding to get strong
When going through a major crisis, author Lori Deschene relays that she was “a prisoner inside my bones, starved for my own love.”
One day, a friend discovered her crying and put his hand on her shoulder while saying, “You’re such a great person, Lori, but you’re going to be amazing when you finally decide to get strong.”
Those words always stuck with her, Deschene says. “When I struggle — or feel like my world is falling apart — I remember: ‘I can do amazing things when I remember I am strong.’”
Think of a time when your spirit was broken. You made it through, and time has provided some perspective. Life gives us lots of lessons, and they make us stronger.
It’s an inside job
Don’t fall for the comparison game. It may seem like the grass is greener on the other side, yet you never know what someone else is going through.
When you have self-doubts, there’s a strong tendency to look externally for validation. Just remember you don’t need the approval of others. In fact, the more you can get your strokes from within, the better.
Resilience is the process of adapting to life in the face of adversity. Bouncing back — or bouncing forward, as writer Laurie Burrows Grad calls it — is not a trait we’re born with; it’s developed through the school of hard knocks.
Upon losing her husband, Grad relays that finding strength in grief is no easy task. “You’re aware this is probably the worst thing that can befall you,” Grad says.
“You live through the anguish and somehow realize you can take it — and pretty much anything else that might be dealt to you on a disgusting platter of life’s bad garbage. By staying in the moment, you slowly move forward — hour by hour, day by day, and month by month — until you can look back and say you did it.”
This reminds me of the story of the exhausted bird who takes a breather on a tree branch. A strong wind suddenly blows the branch so hard it seems like it will break. The bird is okay with this, though, because she knows she holds the power to use her wings to fly away. She also knows there are other branches on which she can land.
You WILL survive
With a nod to Gloria Gaynor’s old song, keep reminding yourself you will survive. We’re all survivors. We’ve had our share of battles and have overcome adversity. We’ve all had moments when we’ve fallen so low we questioned if we could lift ourselves up. And we’ve become stronger for it.
It doesn’t happen right away. But you’ve bounced back from hard times, and you’ve proven to yourself that your spirit is stronger than anything that threatened to break it. Support groups, a spiritual avenue and counseling can often help you to see this when you can’t see it yourself.
There’s a saying that’s often attributed to Winnie the Pooh. “There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
And it may help to put a Post-It note on your bathroom mirror that says, “You are a rock star.”