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What Is Strength to You?

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


© 2020 Shannon Henry


Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on April 01, 2020:

Hi Sherry,

Your mother was a favorite hubber of many. She made me laugh and I loved reading her articles.

I completely agree with you about the strength of those in the medical profession right now. I have a couple of them in my extended family. Now is such a scary time to be a respiratory therapist or a nurse, I'm sure, and yet they get up and go to work every day, doing what they do so well. And the other workers that suddenly found themselves in the essential category, kudos to them as well. When I was a cashier, I was never the kind to wear gloves because I figured my immune system was strong enough and the gloves irritated me. There was always hand sanitizer for the occasions when a customer coughed, sneezed, or pulled money out of nasty places all wet and slimy. Now, I think I would be wearing the gloves even if the mandates weren't calling for employees to do that these days.

It's hard to complain about having to stay home when we are priviledged enough to be able to do that. As it is, I have to go out more than I want to right now just to find food and supplies for the tenant maintenance that can't wait until the risk dies down.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 01, 2020:

Thank you Shannon for your kind words about my Mom. I just read a Superfine article that you wrote about strength.

Strength to me is what all these first responders are doing everyday. Putting their life on the line to help people. You have to have an enormous amount of strength to emotionally and physically to do this kind of job.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on March 27, 2020:

Hi Paula,

Yes, humans are strange creatures!

Sometimes it is better for everyone involved to politely decline. Even with some jobs, except maybe once you're already there. In your line of work, that is. LOL

Actually, it was the other one you read today that I almost didn't publish. It took me over a year to do so. This one was a matter of waiting for the quotes from others to come back to me. There are a couple of quotes that I maybe would not fully agree with, except that I personally know these people and I know the context behind the ones I didn't fully agree with, which changes the perspective of the statements from a general quote to one of specific circumstances or situations rather than a braod application.

Suzie from Carson City on March 27, 2020:

Pretty sure I hadn't read this one. Haven't been on HP often enough nor long enough since Jan.to have come across it.

I can truly appreciate most of the answers submitted by women that you have quoted here. It's clear they've all had their turn at finding their strength and holding on. Asking for help when the going gets to be too much is a common thread. This is not easy because too many simply can't tolerate being made aware of what amounts to shortcomings in their character. But those are just people who believe they have all the answers & reject sincere & often, painfully honest advice. Seems rather crazy to know you need help, ask for it and then become indignant about it.....Humans! Strange creatures.

That's just the way it is. I've found it much easier these days to say, "Sorry, I really wish I could help, but I'm probably not the right one to ask." Except of course, when I sub at work because then, I have no choice if I want a paycheck!! LOL. (I'm about to put a stop to that "subbing" …..they're calling on me more often than I like!)

GOOD, that you went ahead and published this one!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 06, 2020:

Thank you most sincerely, manatita.

manatita44 from london on February 06, 2020:

No one is unworthy, my sweet.

I remember you writing motivational articles. How do you know that you are not being of service? Do not dwell on those who may not like you but take the positive. Also, we are all weak so do not expect.

We all carry our own burdens and our thoughts tend to turn around itself. Focus on that everlasting Light that makes us unique and strive to serve with inner guidance. Much peace.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 05, 2020:

I don't know that I've helped anyone, manatita, but thank you for your kind words.

manatita44 from london on February 03, 2020:

Yes, Life is a game of giving and receiving, of team work, as in the office really. It fails or succeed according to the Leadership's understanding of this philosophy.

Again, we are all carrying our own elephants. So glad you could help. Selfless service nourishes the Heart ... increases receptivity to a Higher Light.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 03, 2020:

Hi, Kari. I thought I responded to you, but I don't see it here. I would never intentionally snub you, just so you know! I agree that sometimes being strong means asking for help. Sometimes it means realizing we don't have to be that strong all of the time. When we break we can come back stronger.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on February 03, 2020:

Hi, manatita. Thanks for your words of wisdom as well. I like your analogy of the grades in school to increasing wisdom and self-balance.

I know what you mean about the women with children. There are a few single mothers that live on the property I co-manage. One of them has six kids. Five of them live with her still. I was telling her just the other day how amazing she is. She asked me to go get them from daycare today because she got stuck at work. Had to make two trips because my car does not hold that many people, but I don't mind. There is someone who takes my children to school in the morning so that I can get to work on time. Like some have mentioned here, I've been learning the value of relying on others sometimes. A series of bad experiences taught me not to do that at all, so for the longest time, I just didn't.

manatita44 from london on February 03, 2020:

I like this hub very much. The way you started, the brilliant quotes, which are so diversified, as they should be to enrichen us. You have also summed it up well, so kudos to you and all of us whom you seek to inspire.

I really like Nell Rose contribution and your response to her. She's brutally honest. We are all so fragile and sometimes the so called 'strength' can also be a protective mechanism to assist us in life's sojourn as wayfaring souls.

Nothing is wrong with you Nell and you are a beautiful soul. In life - on the surface - like a calm lake, all can seem fine, but we all have to endure the struggle, the vissisitudes of life. In a way, adversity helps us to see this and increases our wisdom. As such, she's our friend. We are basically Consciousness or varying levels of Spirit, or grades, like in school.

What determines how I cope in an adverse situation is my ability to rely on the inner centering, which could be anything from a 0 -100. The great the percentage, the lesser the pain. Life's struggle can be said to be for progress, or if you like, increasing the percentages within, through His Grace.

I'm happy that you have chosen women for this article. Many moms have two or even three jobs, including the one at home, looking after 3- 7 children and dealing with the social, economical, educational and other aspects of home and family life.

I write a lot about women and always include their concern, fortitude and sacrifice in my writings. Excellent article and my love to Nell.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 22, 2020:

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 from England on January 22, 2020:

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.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 13, 2020:

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.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 13, 2020:

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.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on January 13, 2020:

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.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 13, 2020:

"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.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 12, 2020:

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.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 12, 2020:

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.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 12, 2020:

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.

A B Williams from Central Florida on January 12, 2020:

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

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 12, 2020:

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

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 12, 2020:

Thank you, John. I appreciate that!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on January 12, 2020:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2020:

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!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 12, 2020:

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.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 12, 2020:

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

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 11, 2020:

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!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 11, 2020:

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!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 11, 2020:

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

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on January 11, 2020:

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!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 11, 2020:

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.

A B Williams from Central Florida on January 11, 2020:

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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