“Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” ―Katherine Dunham
Do you feel like you’re not strong enough? For many, they equate being a strong person with having emotional and mental strength to cope with and excel at anything encountered. But if you’re wondering how to become a stronger person, is focusing on mental and emotional strength the only personal strengths to work on? What does it really mean to be a strong person and how do you become a stronger person?
Becoming a strong person means different things to different people. Be cautious…if your definition of how to be strong is flawed, you’ll end up with negative self-talk that you’re not “strong enough”.
Here are some common misconceptions of how to become a strong person:
Strong people never cry. In many cultures, men especially are taught that they can’t show this kind of vulnerability. But crying is a natural response for releasing great emotion. It takes strength to be okay with being vulnerable, no matter what other people think.
Strong people never back down. It takes wisdom to know when to stand up for yourself and your values and when to walk away. It takes strength to refuse to be manipulated or drawn into a pointless argument. Being the bigger person allows you to avoid mistaken pride, which can get in the way of disengaging from someone else’s issues. You aren’t required to take on their “stuff”. That’s on them.
Strong people never feel fear. Your brain protects you by making you feel fear. The first step to tapping into your personal strength is to identify if the fear is rational or irrational. As you mindfully experience it, you can process fear without judgment. In that way, you control your fears, rather than them controlling you.
Strong people never lose it. When life falls apart, it’s natural to have an overwhelming rush of emotions. Go ahead and complain, but at the end of the day, accept it for what it is and move on.
Strong people never have doubts. We all second-guess ourselves at time, because we can’t foresee the future. When you start down one path and it’s not the right fit, have the flexibility to shift and try something else. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out as expected. Calmly acknowledge your truth and know that no matter what happens, you’ll be okay.
Now that we have some of the misconceptions out of the way, let’s examine how to become a stronger person by focusing on these four personal strengths…
1. Physical Strength. Often overlooked, physical strength is at the core of your emotional and mental strength. If you know you’re not physically strong enough to do something, then your mental and emotional strength also decline rapidly.
Traditional psychotherapy and personal-development coaching focuses solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching, on the other hand, incorporates your entire body. The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.
If your core muscles are toned and you can easily center yourself, you’ll have an immense amount of strength. Somatic practices, like the Feldenkrais Method®, help you develop a deep awareness and connection between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.
2. Mental Strength. Just as your physical strength grows when you push and challenge yourself, so too, you can prepare your mind to handle hardships by challenging your mind with mental obstacles. Mental training techniques can help you create a better self-image and actually boost your fitness level, too.
3. Emotional Strength. An emotional response is complex energy released by an instantaneous interaction between feelings, thoughts, hormones, body sensations, and more. Because of unresolved experiences and training, we can develop emotional polarities that sap our strength, because they cause internal conflict. You can restore your inner harmony by practicing NLP Parts Integration.
4. Spiritual Strength. Spiritual strength springs from creating an inner peace that you can extend outwardly to the world. It involves having an intimate knowledge of self without judgment. Self-compassion fosters compassion toward others. Self-forgiveness generates forgiveness toward others, as does self-love, self-kindness, and self-generosity.
A practice of mindfulness is central to developing these four personal strengths. Self-awareness is a crucial element in your quest for becoming a stronger person. As Lalah Delia said,
“She remembered who she was and the game changed.”
Would you like to be able to deal with life’s challenges with more strength and grace? Feel free to contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this exciting journey.
“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” ~Plato
Would you like to improve your thinking, memory, motivation, mental wellbeing, physical health and even reverse some diseases? Well, you can by elevating your heart rate on a regular basis. Yes, I’m talking about exercise!
John J. Ratey, M.D., author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and researcher on the mind-body connection, has found that exercise is our best defense against everything – mental disorders, addiction, mood swings to mention a few. “Moving our muscles produces proteins that play roles in our highest thought processes.” Ratey says.
The wonderful thing is that we can feel an almost immediate change in our brain after a workout. Why is that?
First, regular exercise helps your body optimally use energy. For example, food is broken down into glucose – the body’s energy fuel. Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in your bloodstream by letting glucose into the muscle, fat and liver cells. “We think of insulin as a ‘key’ that opens doors to the body’s cells, so glucose can enter,” said diabetes educator Gary Scheiner. 79 million people in the US are pre-diabetic because their sedentary lifestyle has made them insulin resistance. The insulin key can’t open the frozen lock, so glucose can’t get into the cells to fuel your muscles. The resulting increased blood sugar makes the pancreas crank out more insulin, which causes you to become very tired. It’s a vicious cycle! Exercise can reverse this process and give you your energy back. That’s just one of the many mind/body systems that your body needs regular exercise in order to function properly.
Regular exercise also builds a sustainable cycle of wellbeing. Regular exercise builds strong lifestyle patterns that support mental wellbeing, which in turn motivates you to keep exercising regularly. It’s a win-win-win! And when you are physically active, you’re more social, which boosts self-confidence. It alleviates anxiety, stress and depression. It improves focus and helps you replace addictive behaviors and bad habits with healthier choices.
How much and what types of exercise will help you achieve your peak performance? It’s recommended that you exercise 30 minutes per day/5 days a week at the minimum. That’s only 2½ hours out of 168 hours of your life every week. Isn’t that a small investment for the greatest return – a long, healthy, and happy life? (Note: If you have any medical problems, consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.) Here are some suggestions:
Aerobic Exercise. This type of exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat and can be sustained over a long period of time. Work up to doing aerobic exercise four days a week, at 60 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. Try running, swimming or biking.
Anaerobic exercise. This is high intensity exercise that can only be sustained for a brief time period, like sprinting. For example, after you’ve warmed up and have walked for about 10 minutes, break out into a sprint for 5 minutes, then go back to walking until your heart rate slows again to where you can comfortably talk, then repeat the sprint/cool down cycle.
Strength training exercise. Use weights or resistance machines twice a week. Do three sets of your exercises with weights that allow you to do ten repetitions in each set. Personally, I love my Cross Fit class!
Balance and flexibility exercise. Focus on this twice a week for thirty minutes. The Feldenkrais Method® (which relieved my chronic pain too), Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Aikido, martial arts, archery, and dance are all good choices.
Brain exercise. Never stop learning. Numerous studies show that the more your brain continues to learn, the more likely you are to keep your thinking abilities and ward off dementia.
Doing a mix of low, medium, and high intensity exercise is important as each does beneficial things for your mind and body. If you need to split it up into 10-minute intervals, 3 times per day, that’s still effective. Your brain and all your muscles needs to be used in order to keep your quality of life at its best.
I recommend you read or listen to the audio of: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey. It will get you up and moving as it changes forever how you look at the connection between brain health and exercise.
Are you motivated to try some of these types of exercise, but you need someone to keep you accountable and on track? Contact me and let me support and challenge you each step of the way as you activate your inner abilities to achieve and maintain your motivation for total wellness and fitness. Let’s get started as soon as possible!
If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you get started on the path to a healthier you.
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” ~ Joyce Brothers
Did you know that how you see yourself in your own mind has a great impact on your fitness level? Scientists and sports coaches have found that when you imagine yourself as fit and healthy, the brain believes it, which encourages you to make choices that consistently support your self-image as a fit person. To reinforce this positive shift you can definitely benefit from mental strength training.
That’s right! To improve your physical fitness you need to strengthen your mental fitness. Why? Because mental strength training will help you shift your self-image so you are empowered to reach your potential. Imagine how your fitness will improve when you can…
- Focus and deal with distractions. Rather than having a result-oriented focus, you’ll be able to focus on the present moment rather than becoming self-conscious.
- Develop a fearless mindset. You know that one event doesn’t define you as a person so you’re not afraid of embarrassment or failure.
- Control your emotions. You’ll be able to deal with setbacks and errors as you stay composed under pressure to perform.
- Improve endurance. You’ll be able to perform at your peak for a longer period of time when you are able to work in the “zone”.
- Find your true motivation. You’ll be able to deliver your optimal performance because you’ll be doing things for the right reasons.
What mental training techniques can you use to create a better self-image and boost your fitness level? Here are a few techniques I like to use with my coaching clients:
Relaxation: Calming your mind and body relieves tense muscles, which is essential to allow your muscles to stretch without tearing or pulling your skeletal frame out of alignment. By relaxing and contracting mindfully through all of your muscles groups you create deeper mine/body awareness that allows you to move more freely.
Visualization: Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of reaching your goal. Do you want to reduce one size? Visualize how great that feels…how much better your balance is…how much stronger you are…how much more stamina you have…how well your clothes fit…how happy you are with the renewed energy to take that mountain hike or play ball with the children. The more engaged you become in this, the more your brain actually believes it to be true.
Anchoring: An anchor is a preset response to a specific stimulus. To help you feel like working out, recall a time when you had an awesome workout. Visualize the experience fully, and at the peak moment set an anchor or cue that makes your brain relive this feeling each time you employ the anchor.
Reframing: Identify your unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image. Remove the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary. Instead use “I can do X now, which is so much more than when I started.” Also, get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality by refusing to personalize or over-generalize each event. One event does not define who you are as a person.
Mental editing: Whether you perform an exercise routine or only picture it, you activate many of the same brain connections that link what your body does to the controlling brain impulses. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. For example, Jack Nicklaus excelled because he practiced each shot in his mind before taking it.
You’ll get the best results if you enlist the assistance of a trained coach who can teach you how to do each of these techniques correctly. Mental strength training is all about taking you from where you are now and enhancing your fitness and self-image incrementally until your mind/body health transforms you into a top performer. Contact me and we’ll schedule an appointment so you can get started on your path to an excellent self-image and improved fitness.
“Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!
…just throw away all thoughts of
and stand firm in that which you are.” ~ Kabir
Can anyone achieve excellence? How do high achievers attain their success? Is it because they’re born with some special power? Not at all! They achieve excellence because they are able to channel their energy effectively under extreme conditions.
Many would say that they consistently tap into their inner strength, their self-control, or self-discipline. I like to think of them being very intentional and deliberate. Rather than getting caught up in checking emails or social media, watching TV, surfing the web, they choose to use their time for developing what really matters to them, enhancing their skills, improving their health and inner being.
Being centered undoubtedly helps you become more intentional. However, don’t be surprised at the beginning if learning to center yourself is challenging. It will involve some effort as you develop new muscle memory. You might be used to being slightly off-balanced!
Also, once you are centered you can’t expect to stay centered for very long! You deplete your energy resources throughout the day, especially during stressful situations. This is why you need a committed practice that keeps you refueled and replenished. Over time you’ll even expand your reserves so you can live life more richly. Consistency is essential to your centering practice.
To illustrate: What happens if you center yourself at the beginning of the day and then stress arises? Will your early morning centering carry you through? It will help, but consistently centering yourself throughout the day is essential to maintaining your balance. Even when you are not feeling particularly emotional or in need of centering, you’ll find that it deepens your practice.
What can you do to begin a steady centering practice?
Anything that helps you feel still and aware can become your centering practice. It’s a way to connect with that space within you that is always calm and at peace. This space is often referred to as your “calm center”. Decisions made from this calm center will be more in alignment with your values; actions taken from this place will be more deliberate and purposeful.
I personally have several practices that help me with centering. A few times a week I practice Aikido at a local dojo. The name Aikido is composed of three Japanese words: ai, meaning harmony; ki, spirit or energy; and do, the path or the way. Aikido is the way of the spirit of harmony. Through this weekly practice, I continue to explore ways to stay centered in my body, to use my center to interact with others and to harmonize with the world in ways that are both self-promoting and life enhancing.
I also practice archery. I’ve done so for the past four years and just recently I’ve started training as a horseback archer. To me horseback archery is not just a cool and fun sport. It’s the harmony of four elements – horse, rider, bow, and arrow – into a powerful center. It’s about moving forward with purpose. It’s a centering practice and a metaphor for life.
My daily Feldenkrais practice also aids centering time to my life. When I lay on my mat or table and I sense into my self through slow, mindful movements. I cultivate that center that’s so useful when I need to be calm, resourceful and perform.
What these three practices have in common is that, in order to perform them, you have to find, develop and express your center. It’s not necessary to spend hours cultivating a centering practice. You can start small, exploring what you enjoy and can practice consistently with ease and pleasure.
Would you like to develop your own customized centering practice to help you cope with stress and live more fully? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching helps you engage your whole mind and body in achieving excellence.
“We act in accordance with our self-image.” ~ Moshe Feldenkrais
According to the latest report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That’s a staggering amount of human suffering and lost productivity. Are you one of them?
Pain and mobility issues typically come from two sources — an underlying physical condition (like an injury or inflammation) and the subconscious way you hold your body and your movement (like tension or habitually walking with your head down). It becomes a vicious cycle of inflamed muscles aggravated by poor posture, which inflames the muscles more.
While medical treatment addresses physical conditions, they often neglect the subconscious choices. How can you find the most effective solution if you’re ignoring a major component of the problem? That’s why the Feldenkrais Method® teaches a person to uncover the underlying way your brain and body are working, or not working together.
Let us be clear – The Feldenkrais Method® is a learning process, not a treatment. It helps you learn to better understand what your body is telling you and to improve your movements and interactions with the world around you. Through it, you engage muscles you’ve not used for quite awhile or didn’t even know you had – in a non-invasive, very gentle way. Many people, after trying it, marvel that so much can be accomplished with such little movements.
What are some of the benefits, besides pain relief, of Feldenkrais? You will…
- Improve the Basics: Achieve better balance and higher performance by learning to sit, stand, and walk with dynamic stability and balance. Learn skills for improving your sensory acuity and self-awareness.
- Move Smarter: Recover from injuries faster and understand how the whole body participates in the process of recovery. Encourage the development of new neuro-pathways.
- Sleep Better: Teach your body to rest well, improving sleep function for restoration, relaxation, and repair.
- Improve Posture: Learn to move more efficiently, with less effort and highest skeletal support
- Improve Your Self-Image: Moshe believed that our self-image is smaller than our potential capacity. Awareness Through Movement creates a favorable training ground for enhanced learning, improved thought processes, more efficient movement and positive learning, which in turn, improves the awareness of the person in relationship to self, others and the world.
- Have Fun: Feldenkrais is fun! Learning is fun! Feldenkrais is a way of learning how to learn rather than a therapeutic method to fix aches and pains.
There is an indisputable connection between the mind and body. And it is only by engaging the whole person that you can become aware and make mindful choices that support you. Are you ready to learn what you’re body and mind have been trying to tell you all these years? If you live near Ashland, OR, please contact my office to discuss the best option for your situation.