Struggle vs. Strength - Mental Health Chats

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This is a post I wrote in 2018 for a mental health blog I used to have - still relevant though!

Struggle vs. Strength

I was lying awake in bed the other night with a phrase stuck in my head: "It's no coincidence the words 'struggle' and 'strength' have the same beginning but completely different endings" - so I thought we should explore that further.

It's easy to look at "strong" people and think "wow, I wish I had it easy like them" or "I wish I had their confidence" or "they're so brave, I could never be like that". But actually, strong people have struggles, they have insecurities, they have anxiety. We only see other people's outer selves.

I remember once when I wasn't in a good headspace someone said to me "I really admire how strong you are!" and my mental response was "hahahahahahahaifonlyyouknewiamactuallythecompleteoppositeofstronghahahahaha" - but of course I just said something like "oh gosh, thank you! I definitely don't feel it!"

I appreciated it wholeheartedly - but I didn't believe it at the time. No way was someone like me - who once almost hyperventilated because she had to call and make a mechanics appointment - strong in any way shape or form.

But that's why I am strong. Because I found it incredibly (unnecessarily) scary, but I still did it.

I wasn't weak because I found motherhood hard - I was strong because I did my best even though I found it hard.

I'm not weak because I have social anxiety - I'm strong because even though I have social anxiety I still make an effort to connect with people.

Real strength isn't something you just “have” that stops you from struggling. It's something you find through struggling.  So every time you catch yourself thinking you aren't a strong person, look at what you've survived before now.  Look at what you've overcome.

You may have your struggles - in fact, I'm sure you do. And you may feel like they define you. But I promise you, it's not your struggles that define you, it's your strength in getting through them.

Sometimes strength is holding your temper even though you just want to scream. Sometimes strength is allowing yourself to scream. And sometimes strength is forgiving yourself if you screamed without meaning to get to that point.

Some days your strength will be overcoming a huge obstacle. Other days your strength will be surviving.

It's ok if you don't feel brave, it's ok if you don't feel strong. Often we just don't. But consciously look for evidence to prove your own strength to yourself and you might be surprised.

Sometimes my strength is allowing myself time to shut down and restart. It's recognising when I need to stop before I completely burn out. And other times my strength is restarting after I have burnt out.

We all struggle, but we are all strong - we just need to allow ourselves to feel it.

I hope you feel your strength today :)