Inner strength is created through effort and determination. At the core of it is the trust that one way or another you will be able to deal with whatever you may encounter in life — whether it be a crisis or simply the challenges of daily life.
If you do not let them crush you, hardship and adversity provide a opportunities to steel your inner fortitude. But you can also develop and strengthen it by deliberately enhancing key psychological attributes that will make you stronger and more resilient:
Strengthen Your Sense of Self
Increase your self-knowledge. Be honest and as objective as you can about your strengths and weaknesses, abilities and values, and generally get to know how you tick.
Choose self-acceptance. It means to be okay with your quirks and shortcomings, to be authentic and real. Practice self-compassion when life has knocked you and self-forgiveness when you have not been your best.
Set boundaries. Know your values and limits. Bravely stand your ground when something is not acceptable to you.
Increase Emotional Stability
Resist drama and emotional turbulence. This requires a willingness to tolerate difficult feelings like sadness, disappointment, frustration, worry and fears. Fluctuations in mood are a normal part of life. While significant emotions should not be denied and need to be understood, with some degree of self-control you can keep your cool and stay strong.
Beware a sense of entitlement to a trouble-free life. No one can claim exemption from hard knocks and unfulfilled expectations, hopes and dreams. An emotionally mature person deals with challenges with as much grace and competence as possible.
Manage Your Energies
Commit to self-care with healthy habits and practices. Inner strength is on shaky ground when your body is deprived of its true needs. You also need to be discerning about what you do and how you do it – when to persist, when to cut your losses and let go. But most of all, allow humor and lightheartedness. No matter how serious a situation, it is often possible to find something funny and laugh at absurdities or even at yourself.
Approach Life with Realistic Optimism
See things objectively as they are. Take stock of the situation and aim for an overall perspective. Bring to mind the whole picture and take the long view. Ask yourself how the current issue fits into the big scheme of things.
Be proactive and deal with the demands of the moments, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Be aware of automatic negative thoughts. Instead adopt lateral thinking and look outside the square. Be flexible and open to consider new options. Adjust to new developments. See problems as learning experiences that will help you become stronger and wiser.
Review Your Social Life
Are you connected or dependent? Are you easily swayed and persuaded? Is the company you keep appreciating your individuality or do you have to change who you are to please others? Is there peer pressure to fit in? What is the group think? What are the ‘shoulds’ and demands to be a certain way? Whose values do you live by? Are you making your own choices and decisions or do you do what you think is expected of you?
Make sure to surround yourself with people who have values and goals that resonate with you. Where there is mutual support and respect for the other. If necessary and possible stay away from toxic people who demean you or who try to clip your wings.
And most of all, become comfortable in your own company. Practice being alone and quiet, just with yourself. Only when you are able to be at peace with yourself, will you develop the ability to be truly self-directed and self-reliant.
Cherish Spiritual Connection
Whatever your religious beliefs, centre yourself in something bigger than yourself. Make time for Being, with moments where all Doing stops. Prayer, contemplation or tuning into universal energies will help you do that.
Find something that gives your life meaning and purpose. It could be something that gives you joy or something that is of benefit to others. Whatever makes your heart sing will enhance your inner life, give you direction and establish a solid foundation for living life to the full.
To develop and cultivate your own inner strength, choose from the above descriptions those areas where you are most lacking. Concentrate on one at a time and seek out resources that show you in greater detail how to enhance those abilities. It may be challenging to step outside your comfort zone and expose yourself to failure and mistakes. But that is part of becoming stronger: not be deterred by hiccups but persist with transforming yourself into a person who lives their best life from a position of inner strength.
What is your experience with inner strength — or lack of it? What do you need to develop most? How have you become a strong person? What additional ways have worked for you? What advice would you give others?