There are two kinds of strength, in my opinion.
Perceived strength - arrogant and egoic, intelligence without vulnerability.
Earned strength - exudes presence because underneath that confident presence is a vulnerability that was earned from fully feeling and experiencing a vast range of emotions - emotional intelligence.
In this article, my intention is to wake you up to the strength that you have inside of you. In all of the years I’ve been in practice helping others get healthier, I’ve seen a common theme: An instinct to look outside of ourselves for strength.
Many of us look to the other person in our lives… maybe they will give me the strength I need to make it through this tough time. Maybe you look to the drink in your hand or the next bowl of ice cream. Maybe you look in your work, equating your success in business with your power and strength in the world. It doesn’t work that way, strength does not come from anything outside of you.
Strength comes when you see that all of those things “outside of you” have been keeping you from your strength. It’s how we use these “outside” experiences to bring us back to ourselves that matters most.
The perceived strength person; underneath this perceived strength is fragility and anxiety. There is a victim who resides there and a perpetuated story of being treated unjustly. Low self-esteem is at the root of this perceived strength.
I spent years of my life running… literally, running marathons, being a workaholic, smoking, partying, addicted to my mind, the internet and the dramas around me. My strength and success at the time was perceived, but underneath that, was a low self-esteem.
Note: exercising a lot, indulging from time to time isn’t what diminishes strength, unless we lose ourselves within all of it.
Then there is the earned strength person. This person has chosen to sit with their darkest moments. They looked deep within at their flaws and patterns of destruction and they chose to grow. This person has resisted the constant and loud calls to look outside for strength and they keep choosing to focus within.
“After a while I looked in the mirror and realized… wow after all those hurts, scars, and bruises, after all of those trials, I really made it through. I did it. I survived that which was supposed to kill me. So I straightened my crown… and walked away like a boss” - Unknown
Earning your strength means going within. “Within” is your connection to your source and your body. It’s the spiritual experience we crave. It lives in the spaces where we allow the mind to relax for brief moments. Those moments when we don’t think we can take one more step forward and we do it anyway. That space within is where strength lies… underneath all the pain, fear and discomfort that we don’t always want to welcome.
I want to encourage you today, to welcome it. To put the Ben and Jerry’s down, the drink down, the work down or your phone down and just sit with yourself and feel what you are feeling.
Breathe and sit in the discomfort. Choose to grow your self-esteem. This is the first step to strength and you are not alone while you take it.