There is power in that word, but without much of a definition. It’s subjective to interpretation, isn’t it?
How do you measure strength?
It’s an interesting concept…
How do others define it?
Physical strength may be among the easiest to measure, but even that is not black and white.
We’ve all said it, or at least probably most of us, at some point in our lives or another, haven’t we?
Or perhaps we thought it.
Or perhaps you viewed another and deemed them strong.
What is it about them that makes you see strength?
What is it about yourself that makes you see strength?
Can you conceptualize it? Can you define it? Can you put it into words?
I went on a quest recently to understand this.
It originated because I heard:
“You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met.”
“I hope I can be strong like you.”
“You are so strong Christine.”
I heard this when I felt anything but strong. It made me mad to hear those words in the moment. I felt expectations were on me. Expectations I didn’t want. Expectations I didn’t know if I could fulfill.
I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t want to be strong.
I know I can hear another’s story and measure what I view as strength. I can build on this strength with them. I can harness their strength. I can help empower, encourage, and promote growth.
But to put that into words, is tough.
Recently I started asking people: “How do you measure strength?”
These are some of the responses I received:
“…when life deals you the shittiest of hands and you’re still able to play the game.”
“…the ability to know what battles are worth fighting for. Sometimes it means fighting for what you want, while other times it means being strong enough to let something go.”
“…the strongest thing I ever did was forgive my sisters for what they did to me…they nearly ruined me…in fact they did ruin me. And I forgave them when they never asked for it…[that] was strength.”
“I think that strength is the ability to see the beauty in life regardless of the mountains we are climbing. I also believe that strength comes from the ability to view one’s own struggles in perspective of the struggles of others.”
“I think strength is being able to fight your battles, but knowing when to call for backup.”
“I would argue that strength is being able to view the mess of your own life in terms of feeling fortunate, rather than self-loathing.”
“Strength is the ability to be grateful when the mountain gets steep and we aren’t sure if we can make it over.”
“…knowing you’re going to lose the fight, but still standing up to your opponent and giving it your all.”
“…never giving up.”
“Strength is watching someone else do something, handle something, go through something, that you don’t know if you could do.”
“Genuineness. If someone is honest and truthful that tells me they have a lot of strength because it takes strength to be vulnerable. I measure strength for one’s ability to be open and honest. Complete genuineness and vulnerability.”
“If people are able to work through tough times, do what needs to be done…”
“People that have endured hardships in their life and were able to get through it, making them a better person…going through bullshit and coming out of it with a positive outlook intact.”
Powerful isn’t it?
There are themes within.
What do you see?
I am hesitant to call myself strong. I know this. Seems the minute I do, life asks, “Oh yeah? What about now Christine?”
Life has a way of questioning our definition of strength. Or perhaps redefining or even refining our definition…
I’m still working through my own definition. I know for me, it is many of the things that others mention, but it is more. Truthfully, I think it grows with life experience, through hardship, through joys, through life….
To be continued…
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