Pennick Family Therapy - Useful Information
Pennick Family Therapy - "a place for change"

12 Steps for Finding & Building Your Inner Strength

Do you feel strong or do you feel weak, overwhelmed and hopeless?  Often clients present to therapy voicing these feelings of being overwhelmed and hopeless over the circumstances in their lives.  They compare themselves to others and wonder why they don’t feel strong enough to handle what life has dealt them.  Unfortunately, many of the obstacles that they are facing are out of their control.  That is why they are feeling hopeless and weak. 

Recently a client reported that her husband’s health was a concern; due to his lack of self-care and denial of his abuse of alcohol.  She expressed feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and frightened.  She felt that she was not strong enough because she was unable to fix her husband or control his behavior.  She also fights the issue of perfectionism and poor self-esteem.  As a result one issue feeds another.  The more she sees her husband’s health and behavior decline the more she feels helpless and weak. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, what can you do to build your strength and resilience?  Here are 12 steps to help you find your inner strength and build your resilience.

  1. Take Care of Yourself—Paying attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. You should exercise regularly. Taking care of you helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. If you are physically health, you are more capable of dealing with difficult situations and handling stress.
  2. Establish and Maintain Connections—based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.  However, avoid becoming a people pleaser and remember to care for self.
  3. Monitor Your Exposure to Media Coverage of Violence—Staying informed of current events is important; however, avoid overindulging yourself and be able to note when you have heard (radio), seen (television), and read (newspaper) the same horrific story over and over again. Take needed breaks from the media. Remember that many things are not within your control and remove yourself from those things.
  4. Avoid Viewing Problems as Impossible to change the fact that highly stressful events occur, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.  Give yourself grace and credit for the things you do well. 
  5. Accept Changes as Part of Life Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations.  Look for new ways to improve your outlook.  Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.  Begin to set new goals for the future.
  6. Progress towards Your Goal  Each time your make progress give yourself permission to celebrate your success instead of focusing on what you have not accomplished.
  7. Take Clear Actions Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stressors and wishing they would just go away.  Living in limbo about your problems is often more stressful than living with our hard choices.  Understand that you will not always make the perfect decision; however you can make the best choice with the information available to you at the time.
  8. Maintain a Hopeful Outlook Optimism is learned and nurtured over a period of time. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.  Avoid negative people who feed into your doubts and insecurities.  It is very easy to look at the negative side and it takes effort to find positives when life is stressful.  However, you will benefit from living with hope and the more you feed your positive outlook the more you will see your life improve.
  9. Keep Things in Perspective and Avoid “Catastrophizing” Reframe the event and step back from the problem.  . 
  10. Nurture a Positive View of Yourself Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.  Despite your difficulties in the past and past mistakes, you must remember that you have overcome those and learned from your failures.  Look at what you have accomplished and realize that you came through those things to get where you are today.
  11. Engage in Opportunities of Self-Discovery worth; a more developed spirituality; and heightened appreciation for life.   Reflect on your life from an outside perspective.  In other words, ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had survived and thrived after experiencing the things you have in life.  Be your own best friend.
  12. Resilience Involves Maintaining Flexibility and Balance – Being willing to be flexible and keep balance in your life as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events with help you build strength. This happens in several ways, including:

  • Letting yourself experience strong emotions, and also realizing when you may need to avoid experiencing them at times in order to continue functioning.
  • Stepping forward and taking action to deal with your problems and meet the demands of daily living, and also stepping back to rest and reenergize yourself.

  • Spending time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement, and also nurturing yourself.
  • Relying on others, and also relying on you. Remember, you are not an island.