Faith, Resilience and Being Stronger than you Think

I’m sitting here thinking about what to blog about next.  This leads to thinking about my life.  My family, my ups and downs.  What it means to be a mom, a daughter, a wife.  What it means to be resilient in the face of upheaval, challenges and hurdles.  Sitting here fully sinking into what it means to be strong, and real, and human.  Sitting here realizing that, despite what I tell myself, and despite what you tell yourself, you are stronger than you think.  I believe this applies without exception.

Just getting up every day takes strength!  Not one of us wants to get up every single day.  We don’t feel like smiling at the world and saying thank you for every experience.  But, we are strong!  And we get up.  Again and again, and again.  Every one of us does this, every day.  And yet we don’t think we’re strong or resilient.  I really want us to look at ourselves and to see that strength.  I believe we need to acknowledge it, that when we do we will finally be gentler with ourselves.  Stop seeing yourself as weak because you are taking away your power.  Rather, pay attention to where you get back up.  Pay attention to the times you are stronger than you think!

Do You See Your Strength?

Are you, like so many of us, focused on all your faults instead of your strengths?  If you were to look at yourself through another’s eyes, is it possible you would find more strength than you could ever imagine?  Give yourself that gift.  Give yourself the gift of seeing your strengths.  Where you have been, what you have been through and how you have come out the other side.  The fact that it was hard shouldn’t take away from the strength you showed in getting through it.

Too often we see our tough experiences as weakening us, even crushing us.  I’d like us to reframe this perspective and look for the strength that came out of them.  I think we need to learn to see the gift in the process.  To see ourselves as tempered metal (or chocolate!), strengthened through life’s pressure.  If we could understand that without these experiences there is no lesson, and without a lesson there is no growth.  What kind of shift would that create in our hearts and minds?  Would it help us to see our value instead of our flaws?

Strength and Faith

Where does faith fit into the picture?  I believe that faith is as vital to our lives as water.  We wither away without it.  This is not exclusively religious faith, this is faith in: humanity, good over evil, the ‘system’, you name it.  This is about trust.  Being able to trust that it will be okay.  We need to rely on something.  We need to be able to trust that God, the Universe, our family and friends etc. are on our side.  That they have our back and won’t let us down.

When we lose faith, we lose hope.  This is why a positive mindset is so important.  Losing hope can come quite easily when you allow yourself to be overcome by the negative side of life.  But, when you build a positive framework for your life you don’t easily lose faith.  You become resilient.  You know that looking at the rainbow instead of the rain is the way to go.  Or, even better, you cherish the rain for the blessings it provides.  You have faith that, like the rain strengthens the roots of a tree, you are strengthened through your experiences.  And this faith becomes your strength that gets you through.  It is strength made from trust.  Trust that everything will be okay.

A Deeper Understanding

Do we get up every day as some kind of resignation to the mundaneness of life?  An acceptance of the hamster wheel?  No, I would argue that, no we don’t.  We get up, time and again, because of a deeper understanding that there is in fact a meaning and a purpose to it all.  We don’t understand a hell of a lot about this life that we live.  It’s a strange and often confusing experience.  But, something inside us keeps us going.  Something drives us to do better, to be better.

Call it hope, call it faith, call it purpose.  It comes down to a knowing inside us that we are more than this one hurdle, this one grumpy mood.  It comes down to knowing we are not alone and that every day the sun appears once again on the horizon.  There is always going to be something that weighs us down, but there will also always be something that lifts us higher than we ever thought possible.  If we learn to be open to it.

Fear Stands in our Way

A sad reality about life is that a lot of us experience the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ side to life.  We lose our ability to trust through unpleasant experiences.  We have been disappointed one too many times.  Fear sets in.  Makes itself at home.  By the time it’s unpacked its toothbrush and undies it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.  And it’s a nasty roommate to live with.

It’s easy to write about not letting fear stand in your way, but getting hurt is something we all try to avoid.  So, fear steps in to try to protect us from being hurt.  Don’t ask that person out, you might get hurt.  Don’t apply for that job, you don’t want to suffer rejection.  The problem is, it’s also blocking us from living a life of freedom.  Fear has overshadowed the opportunities that life has to offer us.  But, fear is mostly imaginary.  We need to learn to quiet the fear for long enough to properly evaluate whether or not it is justified.  In most cases it isn’t.

My favourite quote on the subject is, ‘Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.’ Suzy Kassem.  I love this because it really brings it home.  We are so afraid to fail, but our greatest barrier to success is the fear itself.  If we remember how strong we are.  If we remember that we are guided.  And, if we remember that fear kills more dreams than failure ever did, we can get up one more day!  We can get up and try again, knowing that we CAN do it!


A 3 Step Process

So, let’s break this down.  We are looking at:

1) Acknowledging that we ARE in fact made of stronger stuff than we give ourselves credit for,

2) Embracing that call to have faith in a power greater than you, that Yes, the universe does actually know what it’s doing and has it all under control, and

3) Breaking through the strait-jacket that is trying to ‘keep you safe’ but is actually holding you back, ie. Fear.

Stronger Than You Think

The initial reaction for many of us is ‘I’m not strong’.  Whether you are someone who dissolves into tears when you see a drop of blood seeping out of your child’s knee or someone who is super sensitive when someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, listen up.  Having emotions DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK.   Your emotions are there to guide you.  They are not in any way a sign of weakness.  What I want is for us to look back on our toughest times and to see how we got through them.

This isn’t about what you did, because we all cope with life differently.  This is about appreciating that in whatever way worked for you, you got through!  Some people need to be super busy when life is hard, some people need to pull back.  It doesn’t matter which way works for you, it matters that you acknowledge that you did it!  You put one foot in front of the other and kept going.

Life has a rhythm, and a lesson, around every corner.  There will always be good and and there will always be bad.  When we understand this pattern and what we have to gain from it, and then acknowledge the strength we have shown throughout our lives to get through these stages, we can learn to dance to the rhythm.

Reinforce it With Faith

One of my favourite childhood stories is Peter Pan (for so many reasons!).  I’m sure you’ve heard the line from the book, ‘all you need is Faith, Trust and a little bit of Pixie Dust’.  What a way to live!  Faith, trust and just a little bit of magic!  A call to believe!  Believe in the good in the world, believe there is magic!  If you aren’t a romantic like me you may laugh at this, but I choose (note: choose!) to believe in life’s magic.  And, on a side note, choosing your mindset is part of the magic.

When we believe we are supported and guided through this life we tap into that strength.  In some ways the faith creates the strength.  The more you have a positive mindset, the more you believe you are supported and the more you become resilient to life’s ups and downs.

The combination of seeing your own strength plus a strong sense of faith is so powerful it will help you create the life of your dreams.  If you:

Learn to put Fear in its Place

Fear isn’t something we can, or should, banish from our lives.  That would lead to all sorts of trouble.  We need fear.  To protect us.  But, only in dangerous situations, not scary ones!  Approaching a love interest is scary, but not dangerous.  Starting a business is scary, but not dangerous.  Chasing your dream is scary, but not dangerous.  We need to be able to reason this out in our minds or fear will hold us back from all the good stuff that life has to offer.

Take an honest look at your life and where you are allowing fear to take a hold of you.  The best way to do this is to ask yourself ‘what is the worst case scenario?’.  When you look at it honestly you will see that fear has been given more power than it should have.  And, ultimately, it is up to you to make a clear choice.  You can move bravely forward and create the life of your dreams, or you can allow fear to keep you captive.  This is where I want to remind you: You are stronger than you think!

A Life Worth Living

Our ultimate goal here is to decide two things: 1) Is the life I dream of worth fighting for?, and 2) Am I strong enough for the challenge?  Your answer should always be YES to both!  The life you imagine for yourself should always be worth the fight.  Worth getting up early to put in extra hours.  Worth putting yourself out there and risking rejection.  Or, worth failing in order to learn from your mistakes.

But, before we can put ourselves out there and fight for our dreams we have to know one very important thing.  We are strong enough!  Rejection might hurt, failure might hurt, but the thrill of succeeding despite it all makes it worthwile.

Steve Jobs said, ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.’  This is such a powerful perspective to have.  Only once you have gone through the journey and you are standing on the other side can you see the why’s and the patterns, and the dots, that formed that journey.  The same as the final piece of a puzzle completes it, your entire journey is made up of all the different hues and shapes required to complete the picture.

Thank you for reading.  I hope I’ve encouraged you to focus more on your strengths than your weaknesses, to be kinder to yourself, and to believe in magic!

Steph x

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