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Tiny Wisdom: You’re Stronger Than You Think

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Mahatma Gandhi

When I was 21 years old, I starved myself to 95 pounds and then spent every ounce of my energy worrying about the potential to gain weight back. It was torturous and yet comforting all at once. Because I obsessed about my body, I never had to think or worry about much else. There just wasn’t any time.

Back then, I was rehearsing for a musical holiday show. I loved belonging to that group, and I wanted to form real friendships with the other cast members. But when I wasn’t singing or dancing, I was often vacant behind my eyes. I was a prisoner inside my bones, starved for my own love.

There was an incredibly buff guy named Rich. He was the strongest man I’d ever met, and we sometimes joked that we were complete opposites. He could easily pick me up with one arm and then toss me in the air.

One day he found me crying in the parking lot, as I did often when no one was looking. He put his massive hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re such a great person, Lori, but you’re going to be amazing when you finally decide to get strong.”

These words have always stuck with me. When I struggle, or feel like my world is falling apart, I remember: I can do amazing things when I choose to be strong—when I remember I am strong.

We all are. We are all survivors. We have all overcome adversity. We have all had our share of battles. We have all had our moments when we’ve fallen so low we questioned if we could lift ourselves up.

Yet we have. We’ve gotten smarter, bolder, braver, and wiser from the struggles we’ve endured. Maybe not right away, and maybe not easily, but we’ve bounced back from hard times, and we’ve proven to ourselves that our spirit is stronger than anything that could threaten to break it.

Today if you question what you can change, handle, or overcome, remember: You can do amazing things when you decide to get strong.

Photo by McD22

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook seriesTiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself, and Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life's Hard Questions. She's also co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • linnaeab

    Great writing.

    The photo looks like an obese person trying to sit in a meditation pose.

    If I were to meditate on this image, it might change the firing of my brain’s neurons is such a  way that I want to eat more to be like the obese image in the photo!

    Buddha images are constructed according to fixed measurements, which correspond to ideal physical proportions and represent cosmic harmony. The proportions of the Buddha (as seen in all cultures’ statues and paintings of the Buddha) are mathematically delineated or prescribed for artists. 
    The Buddha image conveys serenity and calm. The proportions of the Buddha are always ideal. They portray grace and great beauty.

    Buddhists meditate on the Buddha image, bringing it into their heart, and then expand it so their whole body and spirit become this Buddha image. This is one practice, when repeated, creates the cause for becoming a Buddha. All Buddhist meditation is for transforming thought.

    Neuro-scientists study the neuro-plasticity of the brain, and specifically study Tibetan Buddhist monks who have developed compassion, wisdom. Their brains fire differently than people who don’t do these practices. Scientists are also studying the brains of lay people who do specific types of meditation. They find the same changes in certain areas of brain and in the firing of neurons.

    The proportions of the photo accompanying your article are characteristic of someone who overeats, rather than someone who is spending their lifetime refining their mind, their inner and outer strength.

    Strength is not usually associated the amount of excess fat. Obese people are rarely strong, outwardly let alone inwardly. The overweight people I know develop strength as they consciously reduce their weight to a level that is healthy.

    There is a person who I believe merges the image of physical strength and inner strength. Rodney Yee is a yoga practitioner and teacher, a former gymnast and ballet dancer with a toned athletic body. His life’s work is a testament of strength and calm … of activity, meditation and service.

    linnaea

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi linnaea,

    You bring up a good point. I didn’t really think about that; I was drawn in by the beautiful colors, and the irony of the massive Buddha didn’t occur to me. I have found another photo that better represents serenity and calm, without the implications of unhealthy overeating!

    I am a huge Rodney Yee fan. I recommend his videos to people all the time!

    Lori

  • Maru

    This came at a perfect time for me. I needed to think about this and your post made the hint to it.
    Besides, I don’t know if you changed the photo, but I love this one.

  • linnaeab

    WOW!

    How responsive and respectful you are!

    I am happy to hear that Rodney Yee has also affected your life in some way!

    As a massage therapist, I have worked on men who could use yoga to develop a more flexible back, and to reduce emotional stress. These guys spend hours at the gym perfecting their bodies. I suggest they look at Rodney Yee’s website since he is so strong in a guy’s way, and yet so flexible in a yoga way. Many of these clients at least start yoga because of Rodney’s example.

    linnaea

  • Meredith Terpeluk

    I love this Lori. I’m at a place where I think I finally realized that I am strong and after getting into recovery 3 years ago, and working on a business for 2, I’m finally at a place where it’s time to get to the inner strength in me – that’s writing my book and getting it done. So, thanks for the inspiration for making me realize I finally am getting strong. Grateful for where I’m at on the journey! Thanks for your site. It’s a gift to me and so many people!

  • Cubuffgirl311

    interestingly enough, my brother told me almost the exact same thing yesterday, that i am much stronger than i realize…thank you as always for another timely post :)

  • http://twitter.com/angelirylL15 angeli rylL

    I agree with —> You can do amazing things when you decide to get strong.
    everyone has the power to choose and to decide :)
    thanks for sharing :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1035462644 Ginny Dell Frey

    Thank you so much, linnaea.  I’m raising a wonderful son in a long-term marriage.  I’ve overcome physical and emotional challenges including a history of childhood abuse.  I’ve recovered from agoraphobia.  Yet without your wise and compassionate words, I never would have known that I’m not strong because I don’t have the perfect BMI. Thank you for your insight. I would never have realized how profoundly weak I am until reading your enlightened words: “Obese people are rarely strong, outwardly let alone inwardly.” How amazing that you are able, without even knowing me, to judge my inward strength based on my outward appearance.  Please know that you’ve made my day much easier and happier with your tolerance, understanding and compassion. Blessings.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Ginny,

    I read your comment and my heart broke a little. As someone who lived most of my life with a distorted body image, I can understand the pain that comes from feeling judged and misunderstood. It sounds like you have overcome a lot in your time. You don’t sound like someone who is profoundly weak. You sound like someone who is both strong and inspiring.

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome! Your brother sounds like a smart guy. =)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHTXIIPR7NF5DT6NJGBY3JN4GA AllisonRenee

    This made me cry… i too struggle with an eating disorder..
    i AM strong

    thank you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHTXIIPR7NF5DT6NJGBY3JN4GA AllisonRenee

    This made me cry… i too struggle with an eating disorder..
    i AM strong

    thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and congratulations on working on your book! What’s it about?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are welcome. You are strong, and even though I don’t know you, I know that you are beautiful. =)

  • Veronica

    what if you’re tired of always being strong

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    When I first saw this, I wasn’t sure how to respond, because I can imagine you are feeling overwhelmed, and I don’t want to minimize how difficult that can be. However, as I thought about this, one answer came to mind: Sometimes when we don’t feel like we can be strong, we need to let other people be strong for us. Do you have a support system of people who are there for you?

  • Teresa

    This website has helped make me feel so strong Lori, and I am so thankful for it :)
    I use to worry/stress/feel anxious a lot, but coming to this website — I know I am not alone
    and reading the struggles of others have helped me with my own. 

  • Veronica

    Lori, lately I find that I am surrounded by people I feel obligated to be happy around. I think at this time in my life I lack someone I feel comfortable sharing any significant amount of my heavy load with. I’m so used to being the one to help every one else be strong even though I often feel that they don’t reciprocate with the same enthusiasm and care that I give them.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I see what you mean. I’ve been in that situation before, as well. I am often the caretaker, but sometimes, I need to be taken care of.

    There’s one person in my life who regularly calls me for support, but it’s felt quite one-sided. A few months back, I emailed her explaining some of the things I was going through, and asking her if she would call me every now and then specifically to ask about me–just to say hi and ask, “How are you doing today?” (as opposed to reserving her calls for when she needs my support). She hasn’t actually done that, but I felt like asking was a good step for me. It was a vulnerable feeling to express what I need, but it’s the only way to create the possibility of receiving it. Luckily, in other relationships, people have been more receptive.

    There are a couple of posts on the site that may be helpful to you:

    http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-tips-balance-self-interest-and-sacrifice-for-a-wonderful-life/
    http://tinybuddha.com/blog/learning-to-receive-5-steps-to-opening-up/

    Has sharing your feelings online helped at all? I know it’s not quite the same as warm-hand-to-warm-hand support, but sometimes, I think, it helps just to remember we’re not alone–that other people understand and care.

    Much love,
    Lori

  • Veronica

    I am so happy to hear your ideas about my dilemma. Very rarely do I have the chance to feel as though someone else has opened my own eyes to a new possibility. I will consider saying something similar to a friend close to me, I agree that vocalizing the desire for unrequested support is an important step. I don’t think I will ever learn to give less, I think my suffering comes from a need to balance my life with more receiving. When I stop to think about it receiving more is something I want very much but do not seem to find opportunities to practice with. However, I will remain vigilant and open. Meanwhile, yes, it is phenomenal to have someone listen, no matter the medium of communication. I value ideas and yours seem to fit quite well with my own. I find that this website is just like the universe, always providing exactly what I need to hear, see, or learn at exactly the right moment.

    Namaste

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad to be helpful Veronica. There’s a book you may want to check out called The Power of Receiving. I actually reviewed it previously. I found it really insightful and helpful.

    Namaste,
    Lori

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  • Rbx1958

    Lori
    All I can say is you are a wonderful!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much! =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Teresa,

    I didn’t see this comment before. I apologize for the insanely slow response! I’m so glad this site has helped you let go of stress and anxiety. Running the site and having these conversations with people who can relate does the same for me!

    Much love,
    Lori

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  • CrunchyHippie.com

    Yes, knowing we all face these self doubts and struggles help us to realize we are all in this together and it’s all part of the journey. We cannot experience and truly enjoy ups if we didn’t have any downs. Thank you for this, I’m going to share on our website http://www.CrunchyHippie.com ~come on by we’re a green social network connecting healthy, like minds in community! ~Amber~