Strength. Something we all possess, yet for each of us it may look completely different. Sometimes our strengths are what set us apart from others. In school I was one of the kids who could not open the book or take a note, but could know all the answers when it came time to take a test. Many saw that as a strength. Perhaps you are a candidate for a job, and you have the most experience and present the best overall. That would also be considered a strength. Strength, like humans comes in many shapes and sizes. I once had a patient who could solve any rubix cube you put near them. This was a strength for this patient, and something many of us who have tried, have never accomplished. I know other wonderful people who are physically strong. They work out, they are physically fit, and in turn, physically strong.
As part of one of my previous jobs I had to ask patients their strengths as a part of their treatment plan and again at discharge. Often people struggles to list strengths and struggled to understand what being strong really was. I would give examples, perhaps you are strong and confident in advocating for yourself, or I would point out that there was some ambition and determination in wanting to heal and recover from their traumas, substance use disorders, and other mental illness that they may have been struggling with.
As time went on I kept hearing the words "strength" and "strong" thrown around. Then recently someone told me I was strong. They were speaking of a totally different type of strength though, they were commenting on my mental toughness and mental strength. This stuck with me. Mental strength, mental toughness, it's not something that we all have or ever learn. Mental strength takes time to achieve. Much the way it takes time to become physically strong. You can't expect to go to the gym for the month of January and have a six pack and perfect body. That isn't realistic. Mentally strong people have healthy habits, and they practice them in their daily lives. Part of these habits include being mindful, checking and managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a way that sets them up for success. They don't spend their time wasted worrying about unnecessary trivial things.
These people are emotionally smart. They are in touch with their true inner feelings, emotions, and are able to push any intrusive, negative thoughts aside. They are confident. These people can walk into the room like they own it, perhaps they do, they will sure make you believe that they own it. Every time. They are able to balance their lives. They have no problem saying no in any situation. For those who struggle to say no, it is likely you will burn out faster, feel higher stress and anxiety, even depression. Being able to manage time, avoid burn out, listen to their mental and physical needs.
Often times these mentally strong people are able to keep their feelings and emotions in check, which helps them neutralize negative or toxic people they may come in contact with. They are rational, and able to deal with these difficult people by taking everything said or done with a grain of salt and moving on. They are constantly growing, adapting, and embracing change in their lives. They also embrace failure, however, they do so by recognizing the opportunity to both learn and grow from the experience. No one can ever experience true success without first embracing failure. This is the same reason mentally strong people don't dwell on mistakes. Mistakes happen. We are all human. When we fall, we get back up. We dust ourselves off, and try again. There is no judgment, no comparing ones self to another. Remember, comparing yourself to others is limiting and useless. It won't get you anywhere. The resentment and jealousy will get you no where fast, so you might as well look in the mirror and recognize the face looking back at you as your only competition. Lastly, mentally strong people are almost always positive, and have the ability to find the good in every situation. They don't worry about things that they can not control, they simply don't waste their energy on things unless they can make a contribution and help with a positive change in some way.