Despite the difficulties, the obstacles that initially seemed insurmountable and the seemingly unsolvable problems, we have the incredible ability to overcome adversity and move forward. What guides us through the most difficult situations in life is our inner strength.
Inner strength helps us recover from a serious illness, get out of depression caused by the loss of a loved one, and start over after a failure that has destroyed us. Thanks to inner strength we not only resist adversity, but we emerge strengthened from the most difficult circumstances.
What exactly is inner strength?
Inner strength is a psychological resource that promotes well-being and facilitates healing. It is the ability to protect ourselves from adversity by maintaining a positive, confident and optimistic attitude that allows us to project ourselves into the future, relying on our resources to tackle the problem.
Inner strength rests on three fundamental pillars:
- Resilience. It is the force that pushes us towards survival even in the most difficult conditions, which is nourished by the confidence in our abilities and resources to move forward. It involves a balance between perseverance - keeping our path despite everything and everyone - and the flexibility to adapt our thinking and behavior to circumstances, however harsh they may be. Resilience allows us to bend without breaking, transforming ourselves into survivors.
- Meaning of life. It is the ability to find meaning in life, to explain to us what is happening and to understand the most difficult circumstances, so that we can choose the most appropriate coping strategies to manage stressful situations. It also implies the full awareness that we are free to choose our attitude towards what happens, this allows us to strengthen ourselves and maintain a certain degree of control over the situation.
- Self-transcendence. It is the ability to move intra, inter and transpersonally beyond our self. It involves overcoming personal interests, so that we can take a psychological distance that helps us put everything that happens to us into perspective to move beyond worry. Thanks to self-transcendence, we can expand personal limits and even deal with seemingly more negative experiences with humor. In this way we are able to go through difficult times without breaking down, taking on difficulties with greater integrity.
Why do we need to develop inner strength?
Inner strength is one of the most valuable tools in life. It is what keeps us confident and encourages us to continue, which remains when everything else has collapsed. Not only does it allow us to overcome adversity, but it helps us to carry on by maintaining a positive attitude that allows us to continue to trust our abilities.
A study developed at the University of Åland, for example, found that as women age, the risk of suffering from depression increases by 20%. However, inner strength is a protective factor that not only protects them from depression but also leads them to undertake positive and meaningful activities that improve their health.
Another study conducted at the University of Utah revealed that inner strength is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of life of people who survive cancer, as it allows them to face the disease with greater integrity and positivity.
We need to think of inner strength as an investment for life. The more problems we face, the greater our confidence in our potential to move forward, whatever happens, and the more prepared we will be able to face future problems without collapsing. Although we do not have a plan of action, although we have never faced the obstacle, the inner strength gives us the necessary impetus not to falter.
7 characteristics of people who have inner strength
- They have an internal control locus. “Pray as if God cared for everyone, but act as if everything depended on you,” goes a popular saying. And people who have enormous inner strength literally put it into practice. They develop an internal locus of control, which means they take charge of their lives and take their responsibilities. They don't blame others or the world for their problems, they try to solve them.
- They don't care what they can't change. We tend to think that willpower is inexhaustible, but that's not the case. If we have spent the whole day exercising strict self-control, we will be more self-indulgent at the end of the day. This means that willpower is a quality that we must learn to dose. For this reason, people who have adequate inner strength usually focus on what really matters and avoid causes lost in the beginning or those beyond their control. This attitude allows them to focus their energy and achieve their goals. They are pragmatic people who contribute as they can and do not martyr themselves when they cannot do more.
- They don't complain all the time. Occasionally complaints can have cathartic power, but complaining constantly - an endemic feature of our society - only serves to focus on the negative aspects of situations and, at the same time, waste extremely precious energy and time. People who have adequate inner strength take a different attitude: They don't sit and cry over spilled milk, they use that energy to regroup and get back to the charge. They are able to focus their resources on what is truly useful.
- They are able to adapt to circumstances, however harsh they may be. People who have adequate inner strength are very flexible. While remaining true to their value system, they manage to rearrange their behavior when circumstances change. Instead of battling wind and tides by wasting precious energy, they follow the natural flow of things to achieve their goals. And when that's not possible, they are able to change their goal to a more accessible and rational one. This does not mean resigning, but being wise and mature, it means knowing how to distribute resources among those things that will bear fruit.
- They don't try to impress anyone, their goal is to outdo themselves. In a competitive culture like ours, many people act out of extrinsic motives. That is, they look for results as if they were medals to hang on the chest, medals that guarantee them the approval and admiration of others. People who have adequate inner strength do not intend to impress anyone, they have enough self-confidence to pursue their dreams. Their goal is not to be better than others, but to push their limits.
- They see the past as a source of information - nothing more. Most people live linked, in one way or another, to their past. But often the past becomes too heavy a burden that prevents them from moving forward. People with adequate inner strength, on the other hand, do not stay tied to the past, they learn from their mistakes and move on. The past does not define them. They understand that failure is just an opportunity to learn and strengthen their resilience. In this way, the past strengthens them, rather than generating a sense of guilt.
- They apply gratitude. People with adequate inner strength are aware of the enormous power of gratitude, which is why they practice it daily. This allows them to focus on the positive things, rather than just the problems and obstacles in life. It also allows them to better understand their potential and use their strengths to face adversity. By taking advantage of the effects of gratitude, these people find the peace of mind and courage to approach any problem from a more balanced perspective.
How to develop inner strength?
- Pick a problem. The key is to pick a specific problem. You may think that life isn't fair - and you're right, sometimes it isn't - but that won't help you focus on your psychological resources and develop inner strength. Focus on a specific situation and analyze how it is affecting you psychologically. Check its impact on your body. How do you physically react when you think about that situation?
- Take a psychological distance. Not all problems are solved in the same way. Taking a psychological distance from what is happening will allow you to put things in perspective. You might ask yourself: What would I have done if I had that problem when I was a kid? What if it shows up when I'm old? Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and figuring out what you would do can also help.
- Decide, without delay. Many times we are stuck in problems because we don't make decisions. In this way we run the risk that the problem continues to grow and, even worse, that it remains active as the focal point of attention in our mind, causing strong emotional tension. Therefore, you need to make sure that you don't delay the decision too much. Don't wait for the "right" time, as it is likely that it will never come. And pay more attention to your Intuitive Intelligence.
- Take strength from the past. You can use the past in your favor to activate inner strength. You just have to remember another difficult situation where you felt just as bad and remember how you got out of it. This memory exercise will help you reduce the impact of what is happening to you, it will allow you to understand that in the end everything comes, everything happens and everything passes, and will serve to activate the confidence in yourself, in your ability to do it.