You are stronger than you think, trust me. Society is suffering from a massive confidence crisis.
Everywhere I look I see messaging from the top-down, and from the members of society themselves, that puts such a huge emphasis on embracing your weakness.
Some call it being brave and vulnerable. I call it counterproductive and often dangerous.
What good does it to you do to dwell on your weakness? Does it solve anything? Does it change the circumstances and the mindset that make you feel weak? Hell, do you ever feel better about yourself through doing it?
You’re being trained for learned helplessness, even though you’re stronger than you think you are.
Use these “you are stronger than you think” quotes as reminders.
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” – Cheryl Strayed
It’s just there.
Those three words describe a useful way to look at what ails you. It describes suffering in a way that doesn’t add a bunch of additional context to it. It’s a definition of suffering that doesn’t have to mean something about you, e.g., my trauma means I’m helpless.
You can’t avoid suffering, but you can focus on avoiding the needless suffering that happens when you run away from your suffering. There’s this trend in society now where people want to be protected from negative emotions. Either that or they’ll find a way to distract themselves from or numb the suffering.
Sometimes the best move is just to suffer and live your life anyway. You don’t have to always feel amazing about the state of your life to be effective. And as much as you wish certain situations didn’t happen, there are almost always hidden blessings and useful messages in suffering if you’re willing to look for them with clear eyes.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzche
This isn’t always true. Some situations are so emotionally crippling that they don’t kill you, but they pretty much leave you for dead. I think of situations like the loss of a young child that seem to have no real redemptive arc or positive lesson to draw.
Aside from those sorts of situations, though, you can flip almost any misfortune on its head and make it useful. Mainly, you do that by coming to the conclusion that everything that happens to you is useful, even if you don’t like it, even if it hurts like hell at the moment.
Often, most people fail to change their lives until something catastrophic happens — a divorce, a major health scare, financial ruin, etc. At that point, everything around you has crumbled to the point that it actually makes sense to try something new, to try becoming a better and stronger you.
Think of the situations in your life where you’ve already realized you’re stronger than you think. Something devastating happened, you got better for it, and now you look back at it as a blip on the radar. You can turn future situations into benign distant memories as well as long as you decide to use them to build strength.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” — Epictetus
Your emotions don’t really feel like choices at all, do they?
Usually, you don’t have any control over your snap, immediate, reactions to situations, but you can learn to reflect on them and change your mind after the initial reaction subsides.
You can also change your snap reactions to situations by training yourself to interpret situations with less emotion and more objectivity. Mainly, you train yourself to understand that you don’t have to feel the way you feel about anything.
I’m not saying changing your mind is easy. I’m saying it’s possible. Often, it makes sense to choose to feel a certain way, but it’s important to remember that it’s always a choice.
Far too many of us walk around with this map of reality that says we must react to the situation [x] with reaction [y]. We believe this map of reality to the point of scientific law when it’s nothing more than subjective interpretation.
Remember that — as real and obvious as your actions and map of reality seem to you, they aren’t the end all be all definition of reality. Not even close.
“When you succeed, you party. When you fail you ponder. Greatness comes from pondering.” – Tony Robbins
There are certain valuable insights you can only learn through failure.
You can’t simulate the way it feels to overcome failures. You have to go through it. And while you don’t want to fail on purpose, failing usually teaches you one valuable lesson that shows you that you’re stronger than you think.
When you actually fail, it’s almost never as bad as how you thought it would feel to fail.
You feel like failure means the world is going to end, but, when you fail, the world keeps spinning as it always has. No one really cares all that much about your failure because they’re too preoccupied with themselves to care.
As long as your failure didn’t wipe you out completely, you can just dust yourself off and try again. You have time to ponder and reflect on what you can do better next time.
You gain valuable lessons via your mistakes, which leads to my next you are stronger than you think quote.
“Further, my characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on. These types often consider themselves the “victims” of some large plot, a bad boss, or bad weather.” Nassim Taleb
You’re not a loser for making mistakes.
Mistakes only become a problem when you repeatedly make the same ones because you avoid taking ownership of those mistakes.
When you don’t own your mistakes, you fail to realize you’re stronger than you think and instead fall into a mental trap that continually makes you feel weaker and weaker.
Notice how all of these points overlap on the theme of looking for upside and opportunity anywhere you can find it. Ok, you made a mistake. So what?
How can you use it? What can you do right now instead of dwelling on the past? Are you going to continue to needlessly beat yourself up about what happened or keep something similar from happening again?
In general, understanding you are stronger than you think helps you avoid that cancer that is the victim mentality. Once you identify as a victim instead of looking at yourself as someone who has been victimized or has victimized yourself, you’re done for.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” – Brene Brown
I remember the first time I ever got punched in the face. Mainly, I remember feeling that it didn’t hurt all that bad, at least not in the moment. You get hit, you fight back, and you either win or lose.
There’s a rule I learned about human nature in the schoolyard. Everyone always wants to fight the kid who clearly doesn’t want to fight. Easy target. The same rule applies to life.
A lot of people think they won’t get punished for sitting on the sidelines. They figure being meek and trying to hide from the world will save them, but they just get trampled on even more. Think of how people on the sidelines are subject to the whims of society.
If you’re not trying to exert control over the direction of your life, trust me, someone will do it for you and they’ll do a much worse job than you could’ve done. The arena is, counterintuitively, a much safer place to be. It’s just less comfortable.
Here’s a mental switch. Stop looking at comfort as a source of safety. It is often a place where you find yourself in the most danger.
“Here’s the key: I’m not going to tell you how to change. People don’t change. I want you to trust who you already are, and get to that Zone where you can shut out all the noise, all the negativity and fear and distractions and lies, and achieve whatever you want, in whatever you do.” – Tim Grover
Trust who you already are.
Realizing you are stronger than you think comes from understanding that you don’t need anything outside of you to be strong. You don’t need me. I love what I do but I’d be out of business the minute everyone realized they don’t need a guru to change.
I’m glad to help, but all I do is give you the tools to understand you didn’t need me in the first place. You’re the one that has to do the work. Speaking of ‘you,’ the real you is the one who acts in spite of their fears. The way you act right now isn’t the real you. It’s the facade you put in front of the world to avoid getting hurt.
You have all these extra layers on top of your real personality that don’t need to be there. You don’t need to add anything. Becoming stronger than you think is a process of removal. You’re overcomplicating and adding way too much excess when it comes to achieving your goals. There’s you, the goal, and the steps you need to achieve it, nothing else.
“Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” – Anonymous
The real kicker of going through that process would be seeing just how much stronger than you think you really are. It would blow your mind. And you’d kick yourself for all the opportunities you avoided because you thought you were too weak to try.
You’d look back with regret at all the unnecessary mental strain you put yourself through by letting your fear dictate the direction of your life. You’d ask yourself ‘why the hell didn’t I just go for it?’
So, when you feel weak, think of the person you could become.
How would they react to this situation?
How would they deal with failures and setbacks?
Would they fold, or be strong?
Would they let fear get the best of them, or would they feel the fear and do it anyway?
You already know the answers, but it’s important to embrace and embody them.
You’re stronger than you think. And there’s a version of yourself you can become to prove it.