What Is Strength to You?

Updated on January 13, 2020
shanmarie profile image

Shannon tends to ponder things a little more than in passing. Sometimes things are worth writing about in case others find interest as well.

Strength. That’s a word that has been on my mind and my heart for quite some time now. You might say it has become somewhat of a theme for me. Maybe it’s just because I have been pondering what it means to me personally for the past year or two, but the theme seems to show up more and more often. Someone posts an article or a meme online. Someone sends me a personal message. Movies, books, or television shows send a message about strength. You get the idea.

Then someone challenged the notion of what it means to me without even knowing she did so. I was called weak and given specific reasons for why I am weak in this person’s eyes. And at that moment, all I could think was, "what about the ways that I am strong?" After all, we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. We have all been weak and we have all been steadfast in ways that define us for the better. Personally, I choose to define myself by the things that I consider to be my strengths, though I am well aware of room for improvement, especially where my weaknesses are concerned.

“I think sometimes you get so busy, you don’t have time to wonder how you’re doing it all. You do it. And then sometimes you hit a wall, and you say, ‘Okay, that’s all I can handle.’ And you back off and try not to get near the wall again. There’s strength in admitting what you can’t do. Nobody likes it. But it’s self-preservation.”

— — Kate Mulgrew as Galina Reznikov (Red) on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black

But What Exactly is Strength?

One of the definitions Oxford offers for strength is as follows: the emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing or difficult. Okay. So what exactly does that mean?

I decided to ask several other women a simple question with perhaps a not-so-simple answer: what does strength mean to you? These women are people I considered to be strong, beautiful, and courageous, each in their own way long before I ever thought to ask them about it. They come from different backgrounds, different locations, and different generations. The answers I received were all inspiring in their own unique way. What is striking, however, is that I did not receive one duplicate answer.

*Please note that there are also several strong men in my life whose answers would no doubt be just as inspiring. For the purposes of this article, though, I chose to ask only women. I have noticed that many women around my age, especially, may be able to benefit by learning what strength means to other women in particular. Although inner strength comes from within by definition, there are multiple sources to encourage that strength. Peers are a powerful source.

The Answers

Keep on going when the world is falling down around your ears. Holding your head up when you want to crawl in your bed and hide under the covers. Smiling through your pain and doing what has to be done because your kid needs you. Loving someone that doesn’t want to be loved. - Leigh Ann Gregg

Handling life's disappointments, which will come, with maturity and grace. - Angie Williams

Oooh, that’s a good question. I guess it depends. There are all kinds of strength. Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. . .I suffer from anxiety so for me, it’s a lot of being able to look past what scares me and “do the thing.” But also recognizing that strength is something we can attain more of with work. We can go to the gym. Go to a counselor, or go worship. How we feel fulfills us. It can also be lost if we don’t constantly remember to “fill our cup,” so to speak. If I don’t feed my body the gym won’t do any good. If I choose to honor a higher power there needs to be a balance between what I give and what I get. So I suppose strength is also finding a balance in life. - Sara Curtis

Independence, but knowing when to ask for help or accept help. - Rhema Pierce

I guess I would say, Pushing past comfort, whether it is emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually. Even if it includes crying, failing and starting over. Strength is the journey. - Leslie Fain

Picking up the pieces and making a comeback. . .crying gallons but still choosing life. - Julia Amling

Being able to be weak because to be strong all the time wears a person out! Being strong means relying on others and opening yourself up. Most of all, strength is biting your tongue and responding, not reacting to something said to you or about you. - Paige Norwood

Well, I can tell you one thing for sure, if you're strong enough to pull yourself back up from nothingness to something then you have strength. Man or woman, it doesn't matter. - Cyndi Adams

This is a hard one! There are a lot of variables. I would have to say love! Family! Family makes a woman strong too. The way she loves her family, the way she was treated by her family growing up. Sometimes it’s criticism from the world that gives pure determination to overcome the odds. But ultimately it’s the heart and soul! Hell I’m rambling so there are some things to ponder on. Will power! Could be shear hate (for the way she was treated) or could just be will to do good! - Rebecca Piekoff

Strength is believing in yourself even when those around you do not. It is learning how to keep a positive attitude through all of life’s adversities. It is accepting that when your inner peace and equilibrium are off-balance, it is still okay because “that too shall pass.” It is learning to accept your flaws. It is trying again and again, as many times as it takes to get it right. It is knowing that it is okay to put your own needs first sometimes in order to ultimately give more. Strength is realizing that our weaknesses do not define who we are. May we all continue to learn and grow stronger right up until the very end. - Shannon Henry

"Every Girl in This Town" - Trisha Yearwood

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Shannon Henry


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      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        6 days ago from Texas

        That saddens me. Don't say that, Nell. Verbal abuse is awful. Either someone takes it to heart and hurts in ways some people can never imagine ....or someone rears up and fights back with a piece of their mind in return and hurts in ways others don't understand. Either way, there can be lasting damage. But you are not a weak person. Don't for a second think that you are no matter what others tell you. As Bill said, we're all just human. If you were weak for a while, stand up, dust yourself off, and move forward with your eyes open no matter what you decide to do and no matter what choices you make that may cause others to see you as weak. In my experience, learning what I needed to make choices with my eyes open is a game-changer when feeling weak.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        6 days ago from England

        Hi, really interesting thoughts. I used to be a strong person but after something happened recently (a guy ) i realised that actually i am not any more. Long story short he verbally abused me. Maybe age has weakened my resolve.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Hi Kari, not asking for help does not necessarily equate to weakness. That said, I don't like asking for help either. Too many bad experiences in the past perhaps. Thanks for sharing part of what strength is to you.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Thank you, MsDora! Judging by all that you have shared here at HP, I'm sure that you could easily add some worthwhile lessons on the topic.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        2 weeks ago from Ohio

        I have always considered myself a strong woman. Strong mentally and physically. But I was beat down to weakness. I know now this happened because I did not ask for help. It takes great strength to admit you need help.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        "I choose to define myself by the things that I consider to be my strengths, though I am well aware of room for improvement, especially where my weaknesses are concerned." Great attitude. We have something to learn from all the answers including yours.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Hi again, Angie. :) Bill is a pretty inspiring person, don't ya think? I'm looking forward to reading his memoirs. No doubt the will be full of more humbling advice.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Thank you, Brenda. I'm glad that you appreciated the message. It does seem that in many ways, women are under more pressure than they used to be under.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Aww... thanks for having my back, Bill. I would have to say that I agree with your sermon. Plenty worthwhile in each of us, I think, and thus we have things in common with anyone if we choose to connect.

      • abwilliams profile image

        A B Williams 

        2 weeks ago from Central Florida

        Amen, I am with Bill, "we are all weak...we are all strong.. we are all human."

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Thank you, Pamela. Your mother sounds like a very strong woman indeed.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Thank you, John. I appreciate that!

      • Brenda Arledge profile image


        2 weeks ago from Washington Court House

        Good article to write. Women are put to the test of strength alot more than they used to be.

        We are living alone, raising families, working at jobs that many believe are for men.

        No to mention the heartbreak we endure and kearning to start over ond step at a time.

        I loved the one which strength is believing in oneself.

        Great write.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Someone called you weak? Put me in touch with that buttwipe. I'd like to have a word or one-thousand with them. :(

        I'll tell you what I have learned....we are all weak...we are all strong....we are all human.

        The Sermon According to Bill!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        This is a great topic Shannon. I think I learned to be strong because my mother was strong. She was in her 70s when she lost her leg below her knee and she learned to walk. Not everyone does that.

        i have always taken the next logical step in times of trouble, and I believe we can all overcome adversity. I loved reading the meaning of stregth from all of your friends. This article was excellent.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        2 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Nice work Shannon.it is good to read what a number of women consider true strength to be.

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Hi, Maria. If there ever was an inspiring tale about what strength is, it is yours. Thank you for sharing what it means to you. Hugs and Happy New Year to you as well!

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 

        2 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

        Vulnerability is the foundation of my strength. It’s alright, even necessary at times, to ask for and to receive help. Healing and growth are possible once physical and emotional limitations are embraced.

        We are each so much stronger than we may ever realize. Great food for thought, Shannon. Happy New Year to you!

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Thanks so much for sharing that, Ruby! You are clearly very strong as well. :)

      • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shannon Henry 

        2 weeks ago from Texas

        Hi, Angie. I put all of you on the spot. Some of you took time to think and others just answered the first thing that came to mind. Either way, the responses are great. If I had more time and readers had more time, I'd provide some of the background stories to the responses. They are very compelling. Thank you for taking the time to answer and to read!

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        2 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        This was a delightful article to read and ponder. To me, my strength comes from my mother. She forged ahead even though she was hurt deeply by my father. She left him but never stopped loving him. I also had some very strong sisters whom I learned from. Nothing ever came easy for us, we all worked to make life better, and when we got knocked down we stood tall and proud. ( All because we had a strong and loving mother. Thank you for allowing me to showcase my mother.

      • abwilliams profile image

        A B Williams 

        2 weeks ago from Central Florida

        Shannon, this definitely makes you think!

        If I had told you I'd have to think about your question and get back with you, my response might have been different. I would have thought about different situations, throughout my life and would have reacted with a more emotional response, I think.

        It was probably best that you put me on the spot! :)

        We all should continually be working to become better versions of us.


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