A few days ago I mentioned our latest Collaboration with a Purpose instalment that is coming soon, and well, here it is! I did say my “coming soon” is usually really soon. 😆
This time our topic is “strength”. When I first heard of the decision, it made me pause a little as it wasn’t a topic I’d even think about writing on a normal basis!
Why, though? Well, to tell the truth, I’ve never thought of myself as a strong person; I’m the kind of person who likes to have a simple, peaceful life, preferring to avoid conflict than to confront it face on. I’m really dependent on my reliable husband and always wonder what I’d do without him. 😅
So, yeah, this is not my usual topic to write. But hey, once in a while I should step out of my comfort zone, that’s why I’m still here. 😆
As the title of this post already mentioned, today you’ll get quite a bit of a particular highly sensitive introvert’s musings on what strength is. 😛
Strength? A Strong Person?
What is strength, really? According to a dictionary:
- the quality or state of being strong, in particular.
~From Dictionary.com: Strength
- having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust: a strong boy.
- accompanied or delivered by great physical, mechanical, etc., power or force: a strong handshake; With one strong blow the machine stamped out a fender.
- mentally powerful or vigorous: He may be old, but his mind is still strong.
- especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect: She’s very strong in mathematics. He’s weak at bat, but he’s a strong fielder.
- of great moral power, firmness, or courage: strong under temptation.
- powerful in influence, authority, resources, or means of prevailing or succeeding: a strong nation.
- aggressive; willful: a strong personality.
[and 22 more]
~From Dictionary.com: Strong
Wow, there are way more definitions for the word strong than the socks I own! But I’m getting nowhere close to understanding what I think strength is. 🙁
Hey, maybe it might be easier to define it once I know what a strong person is like!
At the mention of a “strong person”, the first thing that came to mind is the image of a super muscular bodybuilder! 💪💪💪 I’d put a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger here, except I gave up in 5 seconds because that was waaaaay too much testosterone for me to handle. 😅
Oh, but that’s the definition of a physically strong person; I’m sure there are mentally and emotionally strong people too.
But what is a mentally strong person like? The intelligence of a genius with an IQ of 200? The world chess champion? But many years ago a world chess champion was beaten by a computer, so does that mean a computer is stronger than a strong human?
And what about emotionally strong people? Is the stoic who can withstand criticism and negativity considered one? The courageous dreamer who pursues dreams without letting others hold him/her back? The powerful CEO of a company?
Eh, I don’t know… and I think I just confused my view of a strong person even more. 🙁
What Uncle Google Says
Well, what do you do when you have a question in this internet era? You ask Uncle Google, of course. 😆
Randomly entering “a strong person” in Google’s search bar will net loads of articles with titles that are variations of “xx characteristics / traits / habits / etc of strong / mentally strong / emotionally strong people”, so I’m not the only one wondering about this question!
Still, none of them really defined what strength is. There are, however, many mentions of the term “mental strength”, like the following article excerpt:
(…) mental strength, a difficult-to-define psychological concept that encompasses emotional intelligence, grit, resilience, self-control, mental toughness and mindfulness.
(…) The ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations is a significant predictor of our success and happiness. The most capable individuals in this way are able to turn any obstacle into a source of growth and opportunity.
~From Huffington Post: 9 Essential Habits of Mentally Strong People
Hm, so mental strength uses the mind and keeps the heart in check?
Another highly mentioned term is “emotional strength”:
(…) emotional strength is something that can only be assessed over time. By definition, it involves a person’s ability to deal with challenges and bounce back from them, not how they respond in any given moment.
~From Psychology Today: The 7 Characteristics of Emotionally Strong People
And emotional strength means the ability to deal with challenges?
Okay, so I kind of get the idea of what mental and emotional strength are. Have I gotten my answer, though? Not really. My mind says these articles make sense, I get it, but my heart says that isn’t the answer… so it looks like my search continues. 😅
What Pop Culture Says
I don’t usually refer to pop culture for answers as it isn’t always right, but I wanted to try looking at my question at a different angle and pop culture gives a glimpse into a world that many people see!
Sadly, though, the truth about pop culture media is that a lot of them include typical stereotypes that aren’t true for the ethnic / racial / gender / etc group the person represents, like all women love shopping (I don’t) and all Asians are good at maths (I’m somewhat good but I can’t calculate off my head). 🙁
There are strength-related stereotypes too, like my mini list below. 🙂
(Note: For these stereotypes I’ll be referring to TV Tropes, a wiki library of tropes for all media, not just TV, and I should probably warn you that it’s a time sinkhole! I already fell into it while researching for this post. 😅)
Men are Strong, Women are Pretty
Certain ideals are expected to be embodied by male and female characters for them to be seen as attractive to the opposite sex. Sexy female characters are physically desirable; Sexy male characters are strong and proactive. This is a consequence of Men Act, Women Are as applied to sex appeal: A woman’s attractiveness is mostly due to her passive physical attributes, while a man’s attractiveness is mostly a result of his behavior.
~From TV Tropes: Men are Strong, Women are Pretty
Needless to say, this stereotype sucks. 🙁
Men Don’t Cry
When this trope is in effect, Real Men don’t cry, no matter what. Not while facing the camera at least. (…) tears of sadness would always come from well hidden eyes or as a Sparkling Stream of Tears over a man’s turned shoulder or even in a spontaneous downpour of rain. Sometimes it’s passed off as only sand in their eyes. Sometimes the man will flatly deny crying, even as he’s doing so. There is a single exception: one single tear is allowed at the retirement ceremony of his favorite sporting icon.
~From TV Tropes: Men Don’t Cry
I find this stereotype rather sad. All of us humans have emotions, and it’s sad that men are expected to hold their tears just because of society’s expectation of them (and on the flip side, it’s ridiculous that society thinks every emotional move froma woman means she’s hormonal). For those having depression, this is a very dangerous stereotype as outlined in the quote below:
Somehow, we have come to accept that “emotional” men are not the norm, and that it’s highly unusual for a man to cry in public. Our society encourages men to be strong and silent with their emotions. This type of attitude is dangerous to men who struggle with depression. Many men hide their own emotional duress because they don’t want to be perceived as weak. In our Western culture, when a man seeks help it is akin to asking someone else to solve his problems. And men are supposed to be able to solve everything alone – no instruction manual nor helping hand needed.
~From Good Men Project: The ‘Strong Silent Man’ is a Recipe for Suicide
Women are Delicate
In most forms of human society, the assumption is that women are the more delicate of the sexes or are more suited for nurturing than the more active roles undertaken by males of the species. Women tend to be physically smaller than men, possess less musculature, and have more estrogen. All of these things, and many others besides, have created the assumption that women are less “hardy” than men.
~From TV Tropes: Women are Delicate
The sad part is that the assumption is extended to mental / emotional hardiness too. 🙁
I think complaints about this trope is the reason why there a lot of strong heroines in movies now (like the recent Wonder Woman, which by the way is a good movie!), but it still doesn’t stop the general population from believing that women can’t be mechanics and men can’t be nurses. I mean, why can’t they? Only because it’s not “appropriate”?
These are the few strength-related stereotypes I found after reading around. There are more, but now I’m feeling a little depressed at the state of society, so I’m going to move on and continue my search elsewhere. 😅
What Well-Known People Say
They say the third time’s the charm, and it’s true in this case – when I looked for quotes about strength from well-known people, I finally found some that resonated with my heart! Below are a few. 😀
I love these quotes. ❤️
What I Think
As I was typing this post, I began to wonder; why do we need to label someone as strong or weak? Don’t we all have our own strengths and weaknesses? I’m sure if we were to average out all our strengths and weaknesses, we’d all be equal to each other! Just because one person seemingly has everything doesn’t mean s/he is above others!
And so, as we’re reaching the end of my post, I finally found my answer to what strength really is. 🙂
To me, strength is the power to love despite challenges, both self-love and love for others! Self-love creates trust in ourselves, naturally bringing forth courage and resilience that lets us to bounce from challenges without giving in to negative emotions and destructive choices. Love for others lets us act with understanding instead of reacting with negativity to others.
Now that’s strength. 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻
My conclusion after this post? I’m not a strong person, but neither am I a weak one; what’s important is that I help to spread love and kindness, and that takes strength. 😀
A Short Self-Compassionate Letter
It takes strength to write your true thoughts here. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Read more on Collaboration with a Purpose: Strength
- Addison D’Marko: Finding Strength
- Ajibola Sunday: My Innate Strength is My Impeccable Courage
- Barb Caffrey @ Barb Caffrey’s Blog: What is Strength?
- Camilla Motte @ Moms on the Go: Finding Strength Through Witnessing Physical Abuse
- Ipuna Black: Strength: Single Parents
- Jane Love @ Harmonious Joy: Strength Collaboration Series
- Jothish Joseph @ TheJothishJosephBlog: The Power of Mental Strength!
- Manal Ahmad a.k.a iamthatgirl23 @ Sensible Nonsense: Strength
- Mylene Orillo: 5 Important Lessons on Strength in Difficult Times
- Sonyo Estavillo @ Lil Pick Me Up: Finding Strength in Death: The Mohamed Bzeek Story
- Tajwar Fatma @ LifeAsWeHaveNeverKnownIt: Takes Strength to be a Person of Substance