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
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
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.
- Take Care of
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep Things in
Perspective and Avoid “Catastrophizing” Reframe the event and step back from the problem. .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Relying on
others, and also relying on you. Remember, you are not an island.