11 Of The Best Ways To Cultivate Inner Strength

You’ve seen it in others but you wonder if others see it in you. It’s not something you can lay claim to or take for granted.

Neither is it anyone’s birthright.

Where does inner strength come from?

  • It’s the fruit of battles fought, whether you won or made the best of a crushing loss.
  • It comes from suffering that you’ve embraced rather than fled from and from grief that has made you kinder and more compassionate.
  • It comes from realizing that you can’t expect others to change for you, so you make any necessary changes in yourself and keep loving them.
  • Sometimes, it comes from swimming against the current, even when those closest to you are part of that current.

Building internal strength isn’t easy.

You might find a pill to help you burn calories in your sleep and freelancers on Fiverr who will give your profile pic a more picturesque background.

But you can’t build a stronger character by popping a pill or outsourcing the struggle to someone who will fight your battles for you.

You have to be present for all of it yourself. Otherwise, you gain nothing.

What is inner strength?

Inner strength definition: “One's resolve or determination.”

That’s one dictionary’s summation of the words “inner strength,” but it doesn’t say quite enough.

Inner strength is a quality of your character that shows how you’ve responded to the pain, challenges, and struggles in your life.

It gives people a hint of how you’d weather a storm or how useful you would be in a crisis. It also tells them something about the kind of leader you are and how you’re likely to respond to both praise and criticism.

Finding strength in yourself makes it easier to get through difficult times and make the best even of your mistakes. It acts as a shield when the world won’t stop throwing things at you.

It doesn’t mean you won’t feel anything or that you won’t sometimes get knocked off balance, but inner strength makes it possible for you to get back up and keep moving forward.

I’m not talking about stoicism, here. Strong people aren’t afraid of showing emotion, though they’ll probably save it for a time when it won’t get in the way of doing what has to be done.

If reading these words has you thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound like me,” don’t worry. It’s still possible to build inner strength and become a stronger, more resilient, and wiser person.

The keys that follow, if you use them, will help you to both recognize and cultivate true strength of character, so you can take steps today to becoming the person you want to be.

5 Actions You Can Take To Cultivate Inner Strength

The following are five actions you can take to build inner strength. Concentrate on one of these today and do at least one little thing to steer your character in a better direction.

  • Learn to relax.
  • Forgive yourself (and others).
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Work toward short- or long-term goals.
  • Build outer strength.

11 Actions to Building Inner Strength

1. Learn to relax for inner strength

If you can’t relax (and by that I mean to relinquish the tension in your body and calm your mind) you can’t bend when the storm hits. The ability to relax is essential not only to survival but to growth and resilience.

headshot of young man inner strength

A quick but effective way to calm your mind is to take time out to pay attention to your own breathing. You can only do this in the present moment, and the tension and turmoil in your body and mind are most likely tied to the past or the future.

A few minutes of mindful breathing — living in the moment — can make a tremendous difference in the way you face the next challenge.

2. Forgive for inner strength

When you forgive someone, you are choosing their good (and your own) over your pride. As much as someone may have hurt you, withholding forgiveness hurts you more than it hurts anyone else; it keeps you stuck in our own pain and prevents you from growing.

Forgiveness is an even greater gift to yourself than to those whom you forgive. Not only do you free them in your mind from any debt they’ve owed you; you also free yourself from the resentment that was holding you back and making it impossible for you to grow stronger.

Related: 20 Good Character Traits Essential For Happiness

You also need to forgive yourself for your own mistakes and for not living up to your own expectations. We all fall short of the ideal. Holding that against yourself makes you a prisoner to your ego and impedes your growth just as surely as refusing to forgive someone else.

3. Take responsibility for inner strength

This goes hand in hand with forgiveness. We judge someone’s maturity by their readiness to take responsibility for their own words and actions.

Sometimes taking responsibility means issuing a genuine apology and asking for forgiveness, even when you’d rather just excuse yourself and move on without acknowledging the pain you’ve caused.

It’s so much easier to tell others you made a mistake but don’t need anyone’s forgiveness (because you don’t expect them to give it).

Taking the risk that someone will refuse that forgiveness by putting your ego on the line to ask for it takes a degree of inner strength. It also builds it.

4. Work on short- or long-term goals for inner strength

Working on meaningful short-term and long-term goals also strengthens your character and makes you better able to profit both from wins and from necessary course corrections.

older woman leaning on wall inner strength

Choose goals that require some stretching on your part. If they don’t make it necessary for you to step out of your comfort zone, they won’t help you grow stronger.

Each of these goals should also contribute something good not only to your life but to someone else’s.

It shouldn’t be hard to see how each goal serves not only your own personal development but also the good of someone else, even if you can’t yet point to a specific someone.

5. Build outer strength

Practicing self-discipline with your eating and exercise habits is essential to strengthening your character.

Whether you spend an hour or five minutes (or something in between) every day moving your body to tone muscles and get the blood pumping, the physical strength you gain helps restore your body to a visible reflection of your inner strength.

Whether you like it or not, people will often judge you by what they see on the surface. If someone looks out of shape on the outside, it’s not unreasonable for others to guess that self-discipline is probably not a high priority.

And without self-discipline, you hobble your ability to cultivate inner strength just as surely as you limit your body’s muscle growth.

6 Things to Remember For Inner Strength

1. No one is strong 100% of the time.

No one is perfect. Don’t let a moment of weakness define you. Your life is about more than the results of one test. And you will be tested many, many times.

Some days, it’s harder than usual to be strong. If you can recognize that and forgive it in others, do the same for yourself.

You are going to fail sometimes. What you do after you fail is what matters.

And ultimately — because inner strength is inseparable from humility — how you handle your failures can do more to build internal strength than having a near-perfect record of doing the right thing.

2. Inner strength thrives on truth.

Get rid of any old stories about yourself that aren’t rooted in the truth.

Whether they’re imaginary backstory (to make yourself feel more interesting) or disparaging self-talk, you need to cut away all the narrative that wouldn’t survive the harsh light of discovery.

If you can’t say it out loud to yourself and know it to be true, get it out of your head.

Related: 101 Daily Positive Affirmations

You can do this by replacing those falsehoods with the truth of who and what you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what remains for you to do.

When you have an important mission, you don’t have time to beat yourself up or mentally redesign yourself as a superhero. You’re made for more.

3. Self-care is essential.

Strong people don’t neglect their own legitimate needs.

They know the difference between true strength and self-destructive pride. Strong people don’t need to prove to anyone that no one can be tougher on them than they can be on themselves.

They recognize and value the wisdom of self-care for themselves and others, and they celebrate their own wins as heartily as they celebrate the accomplishments of others.

closeup head shot woman inner strength

Because they see other people’s good as their own — and vice-versa.

4. People need people.

You are a social being; don’t go it alone if you don’t have to.

While you may sometimes have to walk alone, you are never completely alone. There are souls in this universe who will benefit from even a moment’s contact with you, so do what you can to be ready for them.

There are other souls whose influence will do you good, though you may not get to walk with them long.

The strong soul is a connected soul. Real inner strength leaves no room for pettiness. Think about how you might repair damaged relationships.

Taking action might involve risk or even an immediate personal cost, but take that as the price of becoming the kind of person who puts relationships ahead of personal pride.

You don’t have to become close personal friends with everyone, but if you’ve done wrong to anyone, put it right. You’re not the only one who will benefit.

5. It pays to be careful of the company you keep.

Not all those you meet will do you good. Not all want to improve their characters or make the world better.

While it doesn’t make it all right to do them wrong, you may need to make yourself less accessible to those whose company drains your energy and drags you down.

This includes not only people but the books you read, the shows you watch, and any other influences in your life.

You’re more impressionable than you might think, and even a few minutes in the wrong company can sabotage your efforts to build a stronger character.

6. Education is your friend.

Never stop learning. With all the options for independent study and personal development, it shouldn’t take much looking to find something that will at least give you a decent start.

For one option, take the time to read (or listen to) the kinds of books that will help you build the character you want to have. Enjoy biographies of people whose inner strength inspires you. Find a mentor who can guide you on your own path to a stronger character.

You probably underestimate your own influence on other people; the more you learn and invest time in quality character training, the more likely your influence will help others become stronger, too.

Inner Strength Quotes to Motivate You

The following nine quotes each bear a message about true strength, where it comes from, and how to actively cultivate it.

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” — Timber Hawkeye

Message: Calm yourself in order to better withstand the storm. This can be a challenge in itself, but practicing mindfulness makes it much easier.

“Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up and moving forward is a choice.” — Zig Ziglar

Message: No matter how many times the world knocks you down, keep getting back up and moving forward.

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” — Mother Teresa

Message: Be faithful in small things, so you can also be faithful in bigger ones.

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” — Oprah Winfrey

Message: Embrace the struggle. You can’t avoid it so work with it. Allow it to polish you. Strength comes from meeting a challenge, not avoiding it.

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” — Calvin & Hobbes.

Message: Take time to enjoy the present moment. Live in the now.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” — Socrates

Message: Build something new. This is not just about adding a new accomplishment to your list; any project you undertake should be more about what you become while you work at it and resist the impulse to quit or put it off in favor of newer, shinier projects.

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” Thich Nhat Hahn

Message: Accept yourself. Only then can you also accept others as they are.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” — Napoleon Hill

Message: Keep working on yourself. To quote Michelangelo, “Genius is eternal patience.” So, be patient with yourself, and keep at it for as long as you’re alive.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Message: Love deeply — and allow yourself to be loved in return. Do whatever it takes to remove any barriers to love.

Did this post inspire you? Please share the love.

Can you imagine a world where everyone works at building inner strength and helping each other grow?

We may not accomplish that in every soul, but the more souls we can reach, the larger that network can grow, impacting exponentially more souls as it spreads.

Strong souls make and nourish strong connections. If you’ve found value in this article, I hope you’ll pass it on to those connected with you and encourage them to do the same.

And may your strength and generosity influence everything else you do today.

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