Better resistance to adversity Difficult moments? Develop your inner strength

Better resistance to adversity - Difficult moments Develop your inner strength

Is it possible to increase personal energy to have a greater perception of happiness in very different circumstances? Let’s see the keys to achieve it.

Better resistance to adversity - Difficult moments Develop your inner strength

For psychology, to speak of inner strength is to speak of the ability to resist difficult moments, the ability to be happy despite the adversities that everyone inevitably experiences. Finding the energy to carry on in the midst of difficulties.

Who else who less, we all know what it is to live a particularly hard moment and feel, precisely then, a serene force that seems to lead us by the hand, without anguish and with confidence.

The opposite may also have happened on occasion: moments in which apparently the situations are not the most difficult of our life and, suddenly, everything sinks inside, it seems that we are left without strength or without motivation to continue.

Both responses are natural. But the fact of having to respond to difficult situations of long duration and with no apparent possibility of change is another matter.

Faced with particularly harsh and prolonged situations, psychological resistance and the way to cope with them differs from person to person.


Boris Cyrulnik made the term resilience fashionable in psychology. The word comes from physics and describes the ability of a metal to, after receiving a shock or continuous pressure, regain its original shape. In psychology it refers to the ability of individuals or groups to overcome emotional pain and move forward.

One of the most researched examples is that of the concentration camps in World War II. Under the same conditions, some people managed to survive while preserving their psycho-emotional integrity and were able, at the end of the war, to have an “ordinary” life, while others were emotionally sunk and were unable to survive or were unhappy.

The results in one case and another show that human beings are complex and the circumstances in which they live are also very diverse. But there are some traits that have been determined as part of resilience.

The people who cope better with difficult situations include:

  • Esteem
  • Confidence
  • Optimism and hope
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Resistance or ability to withstand stress
  • Sociability
  • Ability to have very diverse emotions
  • Positive attitude that allows confronting problems to solve them, anticipating the consequences.
  • Some ability to isolate yourself at a critical moment, waiting for bad conditions to pass.


The idea that there is a personality type more adapted to problem situations first appeared in the scientific literature in 1972. Kobasa and Maddi developed this concept by studying people who coped effectively with stressful situations.

Although these people have very diverse characteristics, three main axes have been identified:

  • Commitment. The people who live difficult moments better are those who perceive a meaning in their life. This leads them to commit to their own personal development and social actions of various kinds.
  • Control or learning. The feeling of understanding the why of situations, of being able to give an explanation both intrapersonal and externally, helps to feel that something can be done to modify them. This provides a feeling of positive control.
  • Challenge. When it is understood that life is a succession of changes and that we cannot pretend to stop the change, an interior flexibility is acquired that facilitates living new experiences. The person relativizes more easily.


There is currently a movement in psychology called positive psychology, created by Martin Seligman. For many years psychology has been concerned with studying dysfunctions, so this contribution is extremely interesting: it studies what works well in people, instead of focusing on what does not work.

In the 90’s it was discovered that there are people who synthesize long protein chains capable of conveying a large amount of serotonin; these people are very active, confident and daring in their ways of life.

Another group of people, with shorter protein chains and therefore managing a lower amount of serotonin, are more conservative, are shy, do not dare to make big changes and need a routine life.

This would seem at first glance to determine who will be the happiest … but it is not so clear. With age, those with high levels of serotonin often find that they have not built anything that really fulfills them and they feel frustrated and unmotivated, many of them falling into depression. On the contrary, the other guy may have achieved a more satisfying life.

A conclusion is imposed: through frustrations and successive achievements the brain learns to function better.

Children who are pampered excessively, who expect everything to come to them, in adulthood are less able to cope with difficulties. On the contrary, those who from the beginning have had an adequate dose of frustration and have had to wait to see their needs met, as adults are better prepared to come out of setbacks.

In 1938, a study that lasted half a century was started in the United States with a group of 204 18-year-old students who had been admitted to large universities. They all came from wealthy families. Cyrulnik emphasizes that those who had a more difficult childhood were more effective in achieving a happy life: they sublimated and controlled their emotions, were altruistic and did not lose their sense of humor.


Is inner strength something innate or learned? It can be said that every person is born with a personal flow of energy, in a context that favors the development of this force or that obstructs it. That is, there is an innate predisposition that is modulated by experiences.

But there is also the possibility of learning to develop inner energy and express it outside. To do this, you must work on certain personal aspects and become aware of what is blocking your own energy.

If the internal force is a manifestation of the internal energy, it is fair to ask what energy feeds it. E n various Eastern traditions talking about the chi or vital energy and techniques are taught to increase and channel.

All have in common the centering, gathering the energy in the belly, as well as the visualization of this energy and physical exercises to unblock what prevents it from circulating naturally and harmoniously throughout the body. When this energy is stagnant, you have the feeling of lacking strength.

One of the first things to feel full of energy again is not to tense up, to relativize situations, to smile at life. As the old adage goes, if the situation can be solved, solve it, if not, don’t think twice.


Without living especially hard or exceptional experiences, in the life of every person there are moments that require the activation of their inner potential. It can be the death of a loved one, a romantic breakdown, and a dismissal, failure in a competitive examination or in a business.

When this happens, it goes through various stages that lead to the successful overcoming of the situation. From the moment of deep pain or difficulty in assuming the loss to acceptance and the beginning of a new stage, the person needs your resources to live the experience as well as possible.

In the reaction to an event, four phases can be observed: perception, interpretation, level of activation and degree of stress.

So that perception does not lead to stress, we can intervene mainly in the interpretation and activation stages.

  • In interpretation, the fundamental thing is to learn to know yourself. Personal history, beliefs, knowledge, and character traits are the elements through which we value and judge. We see the world through our personal glasses. You can clean the lenses and also change glasses if necessary. If we try to extract the best from each experience, life will be fuller and more enjoyable.
  • In activation we can learn relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques, which allow us to reduce the resulting level of stress. It can also be helpful to control disproportionate or harmful emotional reactions.

To spontaneously activate personal resources in hard times, it is useful to exercise in small challenges.

Faced with everyday inconveniences, you can react in many different ways. It is best to do it in a constructive and cheerful way. The more we train ourselves in it in every little thing, the better we will live.

Let’s look at three examples:

  • I have submitted a report that has been difficult for me to complete and I know that it is well done. My boss doesn’t comment and I feel frustrated. My tendency would be to get angry and sullen. I would stay mulling over the matter, feeling undervalued and wanting to find another job in which my work would be recognized. But instead, I decide not to think about it anymore and I dedicate myself to looking for things in my colleagues that I like and that make me want to tell them how well they are working. I express my admiration to you simply with a few words of encouragement. I am acting in accordance with my principles, I give what I would like to receive and I do it sincerely.
  • My partner does not have time to fetch the children from school. This forces me to go every day, shortening my personal time. Instead of arguing again, I agree with other parents to organize our afternoons and do activities with our children on a rotating basis. Children have fun and we all win. Over time, my partner may even participate in an activity and even collaborate with an idea.
  • I come back tired from work and on the train, I can’t find a seat. I remember the balancing and rooting exercises that I had read in an article and I dedicate myself to practicing them instead of regretting my luck. I have fun and find that I feel less tired.


As we can see, internal strength is a matter of mental attitude and psychophysical energy. In fact, one and the other are closely related.

In physics, all force is expressed through interaction. That is to say, we can really speak of internal force when it exerts an action on the outside. And what kinds of actions do people with inner strength perform?

It has been found, for example, that those who live in difficult situations in childhood can end up carrying out tasks dedicated to helping children in difficulties, become psychologists or doctors, or find formulas to share what they found in themselves. People who have managed to get out of misery and harsh living conditions help others to do so, thus sharing their personal achievement.

It seems that the general tendency of these people is to altruism and generosity. Those who know what it is to suffer perceive that even in the most difficult situations something can be learned.

One aspect of happiness is getting involved in society, doing something for others, sharing and living life with meaning and commitment.

When we open our hearts generously to others, we receive much more in the form of personal well-being than we offer. Giving and giving is the best remedy to combat loneliness, financial difficulties and fear of the future.

As a Chinese proverb says: “Don’t complain about the dark, light a candle.”


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