You Are As Strong As You Tell Yourself To Be

Ariel Lustre

Strength is found in many places. You can find it reading books that inspire you, that light a fire in your belly and push you to stand, to fight, to speak your mind. You can find it in faith, learning to lean on a figure more forceful than yourself who teaches you the worth and power already embedded in your bones. You can find it in your physical self, in the soreness of muscles or the oxygen running through your veins as your feet press against the pavement, stride after stride.

You can find strength in the outer world, in words from others, in your body and blood when you close your eyes.

But none of this strength will manifest itself in you if you don’t believe in it.

You could read every self-help book in the library. You could pray a thousand times a day. You could listen to heartfelt sentiments from friends and family, and rewrite their notes in your mind over and over. You could sprint miles, you could lift three hundred pounds, you could watch movies and listen to inspirational tapes and go to bed reciting, ‘I am strong, I am strong’ until you finally fall asleep.

But if those words don’t carry meaning in your heart, if you don’t believe the phrases, in the prayers, or on the pages you are reading, if you don’t trust in the strength that is already within you—all is a waste.

Because you are only as strong as you believe you are; you are only as strong as you tell yourself to be.

See, you are born with strength. Strength in the emotional sense. You are strong in your mind, strong in your heart, strong in your being. Yet you forget; we all forget. We go through pain, we get knocked down, we fall and forget how to get back on our feet again. Somehow, some way we start believing that we aren’t strong. We see people all around us who are fighting and we think we’re somehow lesser beings than them. We idolize them, look up to them, wish we could have been born with their will to fight—and yet, we are. We have just lost our way.

We forget that strength is already within us. We forget that we have the power to overcome obstacles, to fight back, to speak our minds, to stand our ground. We forget that what happens to us does not define us, and what breaks us does not have to destroy us.

We forget all that we’ve gone through before and convince ourselves we are weak and powerless and not enough. But those are all lies.

Because we are capable of pushing through, of starting over, of regaining our footing, of beginning again.

But only when we believe we are.

Only when we tell ourselves, and know that it’s the truth. Only when we shut off the doubt and negativity clouding our minds, and trust. Only when we stop making excuses, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, stop letting our pasts determine our futures.

We are strong when we ask for help. We are strong when we reach out if a problem is bigger than us. We are strong when we tell ourselves we can get through something and actually believe it.

There are obstacles we will face every single day, some earth-shattering, and some as small as pushing through a tough workout at the gym. But no matter what we face, we must know that we are capable of getting to the other side. We must know that what holds us back is often our minds. We must believe.

We must know who we are and always have been—strong as hell.
And we must fight back with our heads held high. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

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