If you’re wondering how to become stronger, it’s one of the most important questions to ask yourself.
“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” – G. Michael Hopf
We’re living through a time dominated by weak people. The solution and only way out of it is for women and men to become stronger.
While many of the problems you’re frustrated by seem and are out of your control, becoming personally stronger is completely within your control. You can make yourself strong. Physically, mentally and emotionally strong. This is the starting point for the life you want. This is your foundation.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Embracing self-reliance
- Accepting personal responsibility
- The need for strength
- How to get stronger
- The ultimate prize
Let’s get started.
Merriam Webster defines self-reliance as “Reliance on one’s own efforts and abilities.”
It’s the reliance on your own judgment and choices, and being free from societal influences. For someone wanting to become stronger, this is the initial goal.
Let me put it another way; no one is coming to save you. No one is going to do this for you. And you wouldn’t want that anyway. You must own your successes and your failures. The worth is in the work.
Far too many of us have abdicated responsibility. We’ve become comfortable and complacent, and have fallen asleep at the wheel. In our absence, weak men and women have taken advantage and have exerted their influence. The problems of our time and the result of that.
The way forward begins with the realization that we must become self-reliant. The next step is accepting personal responsibility for every aspect of our lives.
Accepting personal responsibility
To accept personal responsibility, you must take ownership for your life.
Locus of control is the degree to which we believe we have control over the outcome of events in our lives versus some outside force.
You’re in charge.
Now, a reasonable person understands and accepts that we have little control over what happens to us- but complete control over how we think, feel and respond to our circumstances. We can visualize the future we desire, make plans for bringing our desired future to life, and set about executing those plans. In that sense, we can predict the future; and that’s a human superpower.
The need for strength
The pandemic taught me a lot. One of the key learnings was that I needed to get stronger. I recognized I needed to be physically stronger, mentally stronger, and emotionally stronger.
My realization was brought about by several events:
- I became a dad
- My brother died
- A virus killed millions of people
These three things reminded and reinforced three things we all know, but forget- I wasn’t getting any younger, life is extremely fragile, and I needed to put myself in the best position possible to be as healthy as I could be.
I spent time thinking and reflecting on two things:
- What do I want to be able to do physically today, and in the future?
- How can I better support the people I love and care for?
Becoming physically, mentally and emotionally stronger was the answer.
I was an athlete and a competitor as a kid. We’re you? When we grow up, our priorities change, but does that mean we stop competing? That’s something I encourage you to think about.
For me, the answer was and is, “no.” I’m still and always will be a competitor. Even though I may not play an organized sport, I still compete everyday.
Maybe you don’t think about it that way, but how would be stronger make your life better? Would having more energy improve things for you? Would it increase your health and life span? How long do you want to be physically healthy? How much longer do you want to feel good?
You don’t need to become a triathlete, but you need to get physically stronger.
Iron sharpens iron, and pressure creates diamonds. And it cuts through flesh, and causes pipes to burst. Mental Toughness determines our ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure. In other words, how to effectively deal with life.
Stress, anxiety and pressure are ever-present. Without proper coping mechanisms, they will crush us and render us ineffective. For a mentally weak person, the smallest hiccup can derail their entire day. Rejection or resistance can cause them to wither and curl up in a ball. It will lead to procrastination and eventually, resignation.
Resistance and rejection are terrible the first time we encounter them. They’re a little less terrible the second time, and considerably less-so the 100th time. We need to be able to stare them in the face and move through the fear and discomfort. The more we do that, the tougher we get.
You don’t need to become a stoic philosopher, but you do need to get mentally stronger.
Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is our ability to understand and manage our emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of others. It’s our ability to be empathetic and to empathize.
How well do you manage your emotions? How aware are you of others’ emotions? Do you pay attention to the impact you have on other people emotionally?
Most people are self-centered and too wrapped up in their own stuff to be able to worry about how they’re impacting others. If you care for someone, it behooves you to pay attention and to be attentive to how they feel. That’s what it means to be emotionally intelligent.
How to get stronger
Do you know what happens when you lift weights? You tear the muscle and it hurts. And then it grows back stronger.
The same is true of your feelings. When you do something outside of your comfort zone, it’s scary and oftentimes painful. Ever approach a stranger and start a conversation or ask someone out on a date? It’s terrifying. But not after you’ve done it a couple times.
Doing new things is hard. When you do them repeatedly, they become easier.
There are two ways to get yourself to do something. You can push yourself through it. Or you can pull yourself through it.
When you push yourself, you’re clenching your teeth and white knuckling it. You can rely on external motivation. But that’s not sustainable. Eventually, you’ll hit the wall and give up. Don’t believe me, look at a gym in March versus January.
You need internal motivation that can pull you through the difficult early stages of change. It’s wise to create a compelling vision for your future that pulls you towards it.
How to do it
Embrace the beginner’s mind, be insatiably curious, and become a voracious learner. It’s never too late to learn new things, or to start new things. Thinking you’re too old to do something is a losing mindset.
Embrace incremental change. Imagine if you could get 1% better everyday? Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to get better than you were yesterday. Then stop imaging and start doing it. You do this by putting one foot in front of the other.
Through doing the work, you’ll be rewarded with self-discipline, confidence and new, beneficial habits. Self-discipline is what you’ll earn along the way.
The ultimate prize
The true benefit of self-reliance is your ability to become interdependent. This is a real paradox.
How could the ultimate prize of becoming self-reliant be interdependence?
The answer is reciprocity.
The more complete you can make yourself, the more available you are to connect with others. When you’re a complete and self-reliant person, you can have deep and meaningful relationships with others.
You’re comfortable recognizing personal deficiencies and asking for help. Insecure people have a difficult time doing those two important things. When you’re fully capable of taking care of yourself and meeting your needs, you’re not needy. You can enter into reciprocal relationships.
The opposite of self-reliant is dependent. The opposite of capable and incapable. Striving for and achieving self-reliance positions you for stronger and deeper relationships with others. You’ve heard the saying, “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together?” This is where reciprocal relationships come in.
There’s a lot you don’t know, and you’ll need help. A strong, self-reliant person recognizes that and asks for what they need.
Keep this in mind tomorrow morning when your alarm goes off and you don’t want to get out of bed- Everything you want is on the other side of your alarm. Wake up. Get moving. You got this.
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