Early today I made a comment on Facebook:
I tell you one thing you need in order to change your life: you need to be stronger.
Straight away, I received comments saying “it’s easier said than done”, and asking “how is one to be strong when things are bad?”
It is, easier said than done, and it’s not necessarily an easy thing to be strong when things are not going our way, but I believe you can become a stronger person.
Years ago I watched a movie called The Pursuit Of Happyness, which left a deep imprint in my mind. Based on a true story, Will Smith played Chris Gardner, a sales man struggling to build a future for himself and his 5 year old son. His girlfriend Linda walked out on them, but before she did, during a row Chris lost his temper and shouted “don’t be so weak!”. That sentence has stayed with me ever since, and it inspires me every day. That simple phrase drives me forward through thick and thin like nothing else does.
Times are tough and a lot of people are struggling, just like Chris in the movie, and trying hard to stay strong. And I think there lays part of the problem. I believe that trying to be strong can lead to depression, but working on becoming stronger leads to happiness.
Why? Because trying to stay strong requires a lot of mental effort and energy, but doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing something physically to make things better. So this huge effort day and day out can leave us exhausted, in a whirl of negative thinking, and with no energy left in us to do what we need to do.
However, working on becoming stronger means that we are doing things that make us feel stronger and provide the kind of energy we need to drive ourselves forward and make things better.
I’m certainly not a superwoman. I have my ups and downs just like anyone else. But I have a strategy I use to build up my inner strength so that no matter what hits me in life, no matter what challenges come my way, I am confident I will overcome them.
These are my top tips on how you too can become a stronger person:
DIG UP YOUR SUCCESSES
When we come up against obstacles, when things get tough, when we’re having a bad day, suddenly it seems like nothing is going right for us in life. I have those kind of days too, and have heard myself say sorrowful things like “my life is sh*t” and “I haven’t done anything with my life!”. Both of those things aren’t true. The truth is my life is good, and I’ve accomplished many things so far.
Feeling sorry for ourselves and playing down our accomplishments is not going to make us feel strong, but weak. Instead, we should be holding onto every little success for dear life. This is something that I do and use with clients to turn weakness into strength.
Get pen to paper and write down at least 3 things you accomplished last year. It can be running a marathon, or 5k, learning to cook, or going to the gym 3 times a week, getting engaged, or reading a book from beginning to end. All accomplishments are big that when you think about them they make you feel better about yourself and go: actually, I have achieved some stuff! The biggest mistake we can make is forgetting about those things or playing them down. The biggest favour we can do for ourselves is to think about them more often, feel good about them more often, and apply lessons learnt to present and future challenges.
WORKOUT YOUR STRENGTH
I know you are probably thinking what does the gym have to do with mental strength, but I honestly believe that it has a huge deal to do with it. Lifting weights has definitely played a huge part in developing my inner strength. Every workout I make sure I increase the weight I lift, be it by a little or a lot. I never stop to think whether I will be able to lift it, I just do it, and more often than not I surprise myself.
This means that at every workout I am physically stronger, and this makes me feel tough! I am not saying everyone go lift some weights, but I cannot recommend enough that whatever your sport is, you challenge yourself at every workout. That every time you hit the gym or the pavement, you lift heavier, go for longer, go faster, go stronger. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel amazingly empowered after a tough workout. Trust me, training does so much more than build up a pretty looking body. It exercises your discipline, motivation and self belief. It boosts your self confidence, self-image and self-worth. Basically, it makes you a tough cookie!
CHALLENGE TO GROW
When things go smoothly, we tend to get complacent. We get into our little routine and placidly live life. Sometimes though, and more often than not out of the blue, something happens that disturbs our world and rocks the proverbial boat. Whether it is just a big annoying wave, or a tsunami, we are forced to take action and do things differently. We are forced to come up with ideas, think clearly and strategically, make big decisions… scary things that we haven’t had to do for a while. And like any skill, if don’t use it, you lose it.
This is why I consider so important to constantly practice certain very useful skills: discipline, purposeful thinking, making decisions, taking challenges, and risks… they don’t have to be huge risks, but things that when you think about them they scare you a little, but deep inside you know you are able for them. Sprinkle a few challenges over your year. Whether they are personal, social, sports, financial, spiritual, or career related, they will help you sharpen your mind skills and build up inner strength.
THINK YOURSELF STRONG
If you want to become a stronger person it helps to imagine yourself a stronger person. Often, we do the opposite. We are fully aware of our weaknesses, the things we haven’t achieved yet, and the things we don’t like about ourselves. We like to use them as excuses to make ourselves feel a little better about ourselves and our situation. But we know we are lying to ourselves and it doesn’t feel better at all, because no strength can come from negative thinking and feeling sorry for ourselves.
Instead, build up true and lasting strength of character by thinking what kind of person would you be if you were stronger. If you had all the self belief and inner strength you could ever want, how would you look? How would you carry yourself? How would you do things differently? What would you be doing right now in you were super strong?
Make a point to ask yourself these questions every day, and release that inner strength, because it is within you, you just have to let it out.
Anna Aparicio is Ireland's most sought after Life Coach. A Confidence and Motivation Expert, she has helped hundreds of people all around the world feel empowered, super confident, and lead happier more succesful lives. With a unique blend of Neuro-linguistic Programming, cutting edge personal development tools, and a contagious sense of humour and zest for life, Anna is renowned for getting results fast. Now you can get her free report WHY YOU'LL NEVER GET WHAT YOU WANT UNLESS YOU DO THIS at http://www.delite.ie