We tend to associate strength with a display of power. But the truth is, strength isn’t just about determination, mightiness, or confidence.
Strength is also kindness. It’s self-compassion. It’s the decision not to give up on yourself even if you’re drowning in self-doubt.
And if you’ve had these 8 experiences in life… it means you’re quietly building inner strength.
1) You’ve encountered failure
Failure equals strength.
Sounds quite counterintuitive, right?
Except it’s true. No matter how hard you might try to avoid failure – after all, no one likes to fail – failure is exactly what we need in order to grow.
And that’s because human beings are inherently antifragile. What doesn’t break us makes us stronger – quite literally. When you encounter a challenge and fail to meet it, you rarely give up completely.
Instead, you adapt. You pivot. You come up with different solutions. Slowly but surely, you piece yourself back together, incorporating all the lessons you’ve learned, and once enough time has passed, you’ll find that you’re actually more resilient as a result.
So, if you’ve encountered failure and have either recovered or are still in the process of recovering… it means you’re building inner strength.
2) You’ve decided to choose yourself – even if it was hard
When you fail, the one thing that keeps you going and striving for more is self-love.
Every time you stumble and fall, only to get up again, you’re choosing yourself.
Every time you’re kind to yourself instead of letting your inner critic win, you’re choosing yourself.
Every time you do something that’s good for you, be it taking the day off or pushing yourself when you’re lazy… that’s right. You’re choosing yourself.
It’s not always easy to be the friend you need. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult, especially if prioritizing your personal well-being means you might have to let down or even let go of the people you care about.
But that’s the thing.
Inner strength is rarely about being so well put together that you can balance every single thing on your plate. More often than not, it’s about choosing what’s important over what’s convenient and about having the grace to forgive yourself if you make a mistake.
You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with.
If you’ve chosen yourself in the past, it’s a huge sign you’re stronger than you think simply because you have a good relationship with the most important friend you need – you.
3) You’ve walked away from a toxic relationship
And speaking of relationships, is there a better way to grow in inner strength and resilience than to cut off a toxic friend or partner?
Didn’t think so. That stuff is Hard with a capital H, especially if you’ve been close with this person for so long that you can’t even imagine your life without them.
But if you’ve walked away from this kind of toxic dynamic in the past, you know better than anyone that life truly does get better. When I let go of my ex best friend, for instance, I found myself thriving in all areas of life because I suddenly didn’t feel held back and constrained.
What’s more, deciding to put your mental well-being first – even if it costs you an important relationship – is the strongest and bravest thing you could ever do.
Well done you!
4) You’ve cried yourself to sleep
Studies show that suppressing negative emotions isn’t very healthy for you. In some cases, it could even lead to depression.
This is because when you ignore “bad” feelings, they won’t just go away. Instead, they’ll find another way to wreak havoc, be it by manifesting in your body or by souring your mood in general.
Healthy emotional processing, on the other hand, helps you come to terms with how you feel, accept your emotions, and eventually let them pass. In that sense, you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable and to embrace your whole being, both the “good” and the “bad”.
(I’m using quotes because “bad” emotions aren’t actually bad. Every emotion serves a purpose, which is also why it’s so important to accept them as they come.)
In fact, accepting rather than judging your mental state has been shown to lead to better mental well-being, which in turn boosts resilience and inner strength.
Crying yourself to sleep when you need it can be a good thing.
5) You’ve challenged yourself to become a beginner at something
The older we get, the harder it is to be a complete beginner at something. We’re so stuck in our ways, spending each day doing what we’re good at, that trying something completely new can feel… well, challenging.
And that’s the point.
Not everybody enjoys being challenged. But you? If you’ve tried your hand at different hobbies or activities with drive and courage, it means you not only have inner strength but you’re also not afraid to look like a fool.
Because you know that everyone starts somewhere. You know that in order to be excellent, you first need to be a tiny bit embarrassing – and that’s completely fine.
It’s all part of the process.
6) You’ve gone on solo adventures
When I was a teenager, I relied on all my friends for advice and help. But then I realized that I really did not want to live my life that way.
What would happen if I just… did stuff on my own? What would I learn about myself?
I began solo traveling. I went to the cinema on my own. I started hiking. I learned to rely on my own knowledge and skills, and you know what?
It was freaking amazing. With every trip I took, I grew in strength and confidence. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all those solo adventures.
If you’ve gone on solo trips yourself, you know very well what I’m talking about. There’s nothing better than realizing you can be fully self-sufficient, completely alone, and still thrive.
7) You’ve forced yourself to go outside your comfort zone despite fear
Growing up, I was very anxious. I found it hard to socialize because I was always worried about how I’d be perceived or if I’d mess up.
And the older I got, the more I sheltered myself, until one day, I realized that staying inside my comfort zone only made things worse – my anxiety was at an all-time high, I had very few friends, and every social interaction had me sweating.
So I chose to actively force myself to get outside my comfort bubble. I went on dates. I met new friends. I joined different clubs and attended random events.
Years later, my anxiety is now almost gone.
Facing my fears was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done for myself, and it’s safe to say it’s boosted my inner strength a great deal.
If you can relate… you’re probably much stronger than you give yourself credit for.
8) You’ve had epiphanies about who you are
It sounds quite basic to have sudden realizations about your personality or identity, but truth be told, I’ve met plenty of people who rarely stopped to self-reflect, let alone go through entire epiphanies and transformations.
And if there’s one thing that builds inner strength, it’s self-knowledge. You can’t get stronger if you don’t know what weaknesses you ought to work on, after all.
So, on a final note, getting to know yourself on a deep level isn’t just a sign of introspectiveness and curiosity. It’s also a sign of strength.
And as you’ve probably already surmised from this article, strength is rarely about keeping it all together. More than anything, it’s about being open, self-compassionate, and willing to grow.
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