How to Be Strong Even When You Feel Like a Wimp

I have no upper body strength.

It’s a miracle I can even lift my fingers to write this blog post.

I’ve never had upper body strength. When I was a gymnast as a young girl, the long-hang-pullover on the top bar was a joke. Not even close.

Let’s just say the uneven bars were not my strongest event. Just ask my mother.

My lack of muscular might was on display in full color this weekend when I went bowling with the kids.

They were tossing 10-pound balls down the lane and I was struggling with the six-pounder. My complaints were endless. After each ball I’d throw, I’d say something like, “Ouch. That hurt.” Or, “My wrist is killing me.” Or, “Why are these balls so heavy?”

It wasn’t pretty.

During my pity party I started to think about the different types of strength that we talk about in our society. They tend to be limited to two:

Physical strength – The ability to lift and throw heavy bowling balls.

Emotional strength – The ability to deal with tough issues in your life.

While I have none of the first, I have demonstrated the second from time to time. But there’s a third pillar of strength that people don’t often discuss:

Inner strength – The ability to derive confidence and power from oneself.

Now, that’s a strength competition I could win.

With a lot of help from Oprah, my life coach and a library of self-help books, I’m now crystal clear on my own true north and keep my compass pointed in that direction.

I know what drains me and what energizes me. I know my own definition of success and how to ignore everyone else’s.

Knowledge is power.

It’s not a part of me that anyone can see, but it’s the part of me that is the most developed. And just like physical strength, it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to develop said inner strength.

This week I punched my Good Mom Card by attending a field trip with my son, Alex, at the local botanical gardens. The tour guide summarized inner strength perfectly as she described the basic structure of a tree.

UnknownHer point was this: When it comes to trees, everyone tends to talk about the part of the tree you can see— the tall trunk and the strong branches. However, a tree’s true strength comes from the part of the tree you rarely, if ever, see – the roots.

She went on to explain that the roots are responsible for providing life to the tree by delivering nutrients and water to the trunk and leaves. She also said that the roots are often stronger and more robust than the visible, above-ground parts of the tree.

Well, damn. The same is true of human beings.

The part of you that gives you life and energy and stability is the part of you that nobody can see.

If you want to be a stronger person, if you want to be able to stand up to the strong winds of life, you need healthy roots, you need inner strength. It’s your everything.

After years of nurturing my own roots, I know who I am. I know what matters in life. I know what my own version of having it all looks like.

I can still barely lift a six-pound bowling ball, but that’s OK.

It’s my root system that helps the rest of me stand strong.

Let the winds blow. My roots will help me stand strong.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Julie Nealereply

Hi Katherine. Loved this post and great to know we share a love of Wayne Dyer in common too! In coaching school, we were asked to develop a purpose statement and to use the power of metaphor to guide us. Mine is “I am a deeply rooted tree, growing clarity and connection.” My root system is my strength, and the source of energy for all the things I do powerfully in my life. Thanks for this reminder today.

Katherine Wintschreply
– In reply to: Julie Neale

Wow! I love this Julie. Looks like Wayne is helping both of us! Keep up the strong work.

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