Perception of Strength or real inner strength why am I talking about this subject? Over the years people have often commented that they feel that I am a strong person. Whilst this is humbling when you are seen asstrong it can lead to many assumptions about you by others. In the last few months this topic about people’s perception of how emotionally strong that you are, has arisen with my friends, family, clients and students.
It has led me to reflect on what dose it actually mean when someone perceives you as an emotionally strong person. I must admit at the times when I have been said to be emotionally strong by those around me I have certainly not felt that way either physically, mentally or spiritually.
My perception is not that I am strong but rather that my upbringing and life’s experiences have given me challenges that I have had to face and get through somehow. This has led me to think about – What has given others this perception of strength about me? What is it that I have pulled on within myself to give this impression?
As a child I had to develop strategies and a “thick skin” to cope with bullying and being dyslexic at school in the 60’s and early 70’s. I am reminded of those people who saw something in me that gave me hope and believed in me. For all the teachers who called me stupid and put me down, I don’t even remember their names. However those who encouraged me, such as Miss Brewer and Sister Teresa, I remember them with love and gratitude. So is it just a thick skin and others belief in me or is there more?
On motivational sites on the Internet I came across these quotes
“Being strong does not mean avoiding the truth. It means accepting it, learning about it, and dealing with it head on.”
“You’ll never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have left.” Link
Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain – Vivian Greene link
Life is very interesting… in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths. Drew Barrymore link
These quotes certainly resonated with me. When life throws you challenges you don’t know how you will react until you have to face them. I suppose it comes down to a choice you either give up or move forward. It is hard to realise on those days when it takes every ounce of energy you have just to put one foot in front of the other that you do have a choice.
Some of the answer to being “strong” is how resilient that you are. This why it is good to look at emotional resilience
Emotional resilience If you are resilient you will be able to cope with change, stress and life events. If you can deal with the small events and a low level of stress then you have a good chance of dealing with a big event or a high stress event. Not everyone is born with high levels of emotional resilience. I certainly was not born with this skill however it was something that I have learnt . As the saying goes – what does not break you makes you stronger.
Emotionally resilient people cope with change and face life’s challenges and accepts personal responsibility.
This means -:
• Being responsible for the choices in your life and the direction of your life
• Be responsible for what you choose to feel or think.
• Not blaming others for your choices
• The belief that you are responsible for you and it is your choices that affect your life
• Being responsible for your strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and talents.
• Coping with the results of the choices that you make
Another part of the picture is Learning to stay in the moment this achieved by Meditation and Mindfulness
These techniques can certainly help you to find clarity and ways to cope – Learning to meditate and manage life more mindfully helps you to move forward and be more emotionally resilient. Staying in the moment and being mindful of emotions and thoughts so when stress and fear arises it can help you to remain calm and effective. Anxiety and negative thinking are so destructive and this is why learning to stay in the moment will help you to stay in problem solving mode and avoid becoming embroiled in the chaos of negative thought.
So I have looked at some of things that I believe have helped to build up an inner strength to assist me cope when life is difficult. If I am honest my life’s lessons, and an inner belief has helped me to have ways to handle what life throws at me. There has always been a place of calm that I can find at the center of any storm I find myself in. It may take a little while to find it, however when I can reach this calm I have learnt that there is a wonderful clarity of thought and options to try. Learning to meditate and staying in the moment I am able to access this calm more easily now.
It is interesting that being seen as “strong ” can have its downside. People often think you are ok when often you are not ok but just hanging in there. When I am trying to find that inner calm when in the eye of the storm it can be hard time for me. Having the expectation from others of being strong and being seen as able to cope, I don’t often find that people either notice my struggle or offer support. Some of this is my own fault because I dont always reach out and ask for help. One of my lessons in life has been to recognise Maggie is in “tough mode” and seek support. Being a healer and someone who helps others it can often be hard to be the one being helped a role that does not sit easy for many reasons.
I think another aspect of being seen as “strong” is that when you have been bullied or abused in you your life you tend to build up a mask and hard outer shell. You become very adept at hiding the hurt and pain you feel inside. This is why support is so important, having an effective, trust worthy and supportive group of people who truly know you and understand you is important. I am lucky to have those few people who I can truly trust and know they will give me the appropriate support when I need it.
Writing this blog has been interesting. I still don’t see myself as “strong” but I believe that my inner world helps me to ride the storm of what life throws my way. I always have a choice about how I respond to what happens to me. If people want to see me as “strong” so be it after all it is their choice but I do ask them not to assume that it is easy. Sometimes life can be a struggle and when it is I take one step at a time, find my calm place , breathe, and carry on down the road. Most of important is keeping a sense of humour and the subject of humour is another blog.