Western society equates strength with power, aggression and affluence. This is reflected in our leaders and our media. The macho superhero with bulging biceps and the bad-ass female spy are perpetuated in pop culture and lauded as true representations of strength. Abrasiveness is often applauded and even admired; as a result, our societies have been stuck in cycles of war, segregation and hate.

Our perceptions of strength can make us feel weak when we are dealing with our own traumas and heartaches. We compare ourselves to our own unrealistic beliefs about strength and beat ourselves up for not living up to them. But what if I told you that you were capable of handling any hardship that life throws at you? That true strength is nothing like what we have been taught by our society?

True strength is vulnerability. The ability to be open to our emotions, allowing them to flow through our bodies like waves in the ocean. Sometimes we mistake our pain for weakness. But it takes a certain level of tenacity to allow ourselves to feel bruised and battered.

True strength is admitting when we are wrong. We sometimes think that asserting our “rightness” gives us power, but having power over anyone is a false power, and why would we ever want that? Real power inspires people to be their best, so that they too can find their power.

True strength does not boast. It is not loud and does not need to announce itself. It requires no acknowledgement from others.

True strength does not need to be sought. It is revealed through life’s hardships and is always there when we need it; even if we do not recognize it.

True strength is saying yes to life, even when it gives us something we do not want.

True strength is learning to say no.

True strength is knowing that even though it hurts now, we will come out again on the other side.

Originally published at crystalnicholls.com