Life comes at you fast.
But it’s not about how hard you get hit, but about how many times you get back up again.
It’s about the fire in your belly and the love in your heart that keeps you going when many others would absolutely have given up.
Here are experiences that you may have been through which show just how strong you are without realizing it.
1) You’ve had your heart broken
If you’ve had your heart broken and you’re still reading this then you’re stronger than you realize.
There are a lot of songs, poems, works of art and books about getting heartbroken, but nothing really prepares you for when it happens.
It’s the kind of thing that either makes you stronger in the end or buries you forever.
If you’ve been through heartbreak and come out the other side then you have an unquenchable fire and you will meet somebody else who’s right for you.
The strength inside you and refusal to give up is your assurance of that.
2) You’ve been financially broke
If you’ve ever hit refresh on your online bank account hoping the numbers would change or sat staring at the wall with rising panic as you work out how to eat tomorrow, you know how hard it is to be broke.
It’s not a joke and it’s a harsh wakeup call from reality.
You either find a way to make ends meet, become the kind of person who’s continually borrowing or in debt to people, or fall through the cracks and end up in very damaging and unhealthy situations.
Being financially broke and clambering your way back out makes you a badass survivor.
There’s no two ways to say it: if you’ve been down in the red and climbed back out then you have survived the ravages of late stage capitalism and you deserve a medal.
3) You experienced the loss of a loved one
If you’ve lost somebody you love among your family or friends then you have been through hell.
It’s natural that you’ll never really be the same again, but over time you may feel like a small part of them continues to be alive with you.
You feel them with you, and not in some corny movie way but in a real and completely definite sense.
But it’s hard:
And losing someone you love is something almost all of us will experience at some point.
If you’ve been through it and survived you’re absolutely stronger than you realize.
4) You’ve doubted or abandoned your beliefs
I focus here on doubting or abandoning beliefs, because it’s very hard to question what we feel sure is true.
This is especially the case if we were raised with certain beliefs or in a culture that promotes a specific and strongly ideological way of looking at the world.
By the same token, adopting new beliefs is also an act of bravery and strength, and even those who go through many cycles of belief and end up going back to the beginning of how they were raised end up back there a stronger, more mature person.
If you grew up in a very traditional culture or family, becoming more individualist or open-minded can be a whole new world…
If you grew up in a very liberal and open family or culture, finding more traditional beliefs and structure can be a whole new world…
It’s all about the strength and bravery to go beyond only what is received or conditioned.
5) You’ve moved to a new place
Moving isn’t easy, and I’ve met many people who haven’t moved even once in their lives, or at least not outside the city they were born.
I used to judge them: how could somebody be content and never curious to try living somewhere completely new?
After having moved a few more times I have a growing appreciation for these folks who keep it local.
Moving takes courage and a real sense of adventure. It’s dislocating, sometimes scary and depressing.
As fun as it can be, it takes strength to move and actually see it through.
6) You’ve started a business
If you’ve started a business then you’re already a legend.
Even if you failed or ended up discontinuing and pursuing something else, the motivation and strength to even make the effort is incredible.
Give yourself a hand for even trying.
If you succeeded or built that business into something bigger, you’re even more worthy of praise.
Starting a business is hard, which is why most people prefer to work for somebody else who already did all that legwork.
7) You’ve been fired or laid off from a job
If you’ve been fired from a job and are still standing you’re also stronger than you realize.
Many people get laid off and use it as an excuse to be a victim:
“The economy’s sh*t,” or “my skills are no good in this market” are two common excuses you hear.
Sometimes they’re at least partly true.
But if you resist that victim mentality and keep trying you’re a strong and impressive individual!
8) You’ve stood up to a bully
Many people like to think they’d stand up to a bully if it came down to it.
But when faced with a bully many of us back down.
We laugh it off, we say “well I don’t want any trouble,” or we try to see if there’s another authority figure or person we can call in.
Frankly it’s understandable considering that bullies can sometimes be armed or have issues and a shorter fuse than we realize.
But if you’ve stood up to a bully, even verbally or over email, then you’re much stronger than you realize.
If you’ve told a bullying boss “I quit!” and then told her all the reasons why, you’re brave and you’re making the world a better place to let bullies know that we see them and we won’t tolerate their behavior.
9) You’ve overcome serious illness
Those who have faced serious illness and survived seem to have a certain calmness and gratitude about them.
I think it’s because illness forces you to become humble.
Realizing the limits of your body and how much is out of our control when we get sick is deeply humbling.
Our vessel isn’t superhuman, and it can break down and have serious problems through no fault whatsoever of our own.
Sometimes weeks or months in bed or in a hospital room transforms a person as they find a certain patience and deep well of strength they didn’t know they had.
That still small voice within them grows louder:
I can do this.
I will do this.
I am doing this.
10) You’ve been in the minority
Have you ever really been in the minority?
I don’t mean disagreeing with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) like pop punk band Green Day, either…
“I wanna be the minority
I don’t need your authority…”
So Green Day sang in 2000, going on over the years to oppose George W. Bush at the same time as huge majorities of people in the West also opposed GWB, or to rant against SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade while hundreds of thousands of fans who agreed with them shouted enthusiastically.
That’s not being in the minority, that’s wanting to feel like you’re in the minority while being surrounded by people who agree with you and don’t challenge you.
Actually being in the minority is different. It means you hold a view so unpopular that you face real backlash and actually anger people who otherwise might like you.
It means doing something like the late singer Sinead O’Connor who ripped up a photo of the Catholic pope on live TV in 1992 back when such a thing was still controversial and offensive and could lead to real pushback…
It means saying you’re a Christian conservative in a crowd of angry left-wing activists at your university campus when you’re challenged.
It means waiting to have sex before marriage because of your beliefs even though everyone in liberal modern culture laughs at you, or having sex before marriage even though everyone in your conservative culture judges you.
It means being willing to be a minority for real.
The key to realizing your own strength
The key to realizing your own strength is to become more self-aware.
As you get to know yourself, you’ll also come to know just how capable you are and how much fortitude you have.
You aren’t the meek creature society tried to fashion you into being, and you don’t need to agree with everyone else to be respected and accepted.
You can be your own person with your own experiences and stories and find others also brave enough to tell their story, too.
You are strong for being who you are and not anybody else.