Become the strongest version of yourself. At first glance, this probably sounds like a quote pulled out of a Kung Fu movie, but, believe it or not, this phrase is more than just a snappy one liner. It’s a concept that I came across a couple of years ago and has been a holy grail to me ever since.
I first came across the true meaning of being the ‘strongest version of yourself’ when I started training. In the beginning, I thought the term was about maximising my physical capabilities- we’ve always been taught that to be a man is to be strong in frame. Yet, as I started to pick up books and read more about the world around me, I begun to develop an understanding that my once preconceived idea of becoming the strongest version of myself was much different. This change was very drastic and pivotal.
When we talk about strength we always associate it with lifting weights and going to the gym, but strength can also be developed in areas that we wouldn’t usually consider. This is crucial for any form of growth and success.
Firstly, everything must be balanced. If you’re trying to grow a flower, and you water it multiple times a day but give it very little sunlight, the plant’s growth will be stunted and it will possibly die. Whereas, on the other hand, if you gave it very little water and instead exposed it to endless amounts of light, it would most likely die from dehydration. The key here is that growth and success requires a balance, and strengthening ourselves across all-important areas of life creates this balance.
For us to grow and become the strongest version of ourselves, we should understand that we as people have three sides to ourselves:
- The mental side
- The physical side
- The spiritual side.
The body is a manifestation of your mentality and your mindset, just as a painting is a representation of an artist’s ideas, feeling and thoughts. The reason for me saying this is because our whole body is connected to and controlled by the mind. According to David Cosby of the College of Complementary Medicine: “Researchers have found that people adopt a different posture when they are depressed to when they are feeling good”. This shows that emotional and hormonal changes in the mind influences our bodies. Therefore, if your mindset is strong and driven that will start to show in your physical self. Even though at first these changes may be subtle, once your mindset is healthy, it will carry over into your physiological side. This in turn will enable you to push yourself to work harder; you will feel more active, awake and motivated- whilst feeling good about yourself.
The final aspect is the spiritual side. One of the misconceptions with this area is that people think spirituality means God and requires continuous prayer- but that isn’t always the case.
Your spiritual strength can be built through taking time out from the day and spending it with your family; or by helping somebody, meditating, or even just sitting down by yourself and thinking about everything around you that you are grateful for. These are all ways to build and increase your spiritual strength.
Spiritual strength is all about the inner self- the non-physical side of things. Some may even describe it as the more emotional and morally focused side. Whichever way you wish to describe it, remember that spirituality can be attained simply with just yourself in focus.
Now, all of that was a simplified summary of what becoming the strongest version of yourself entails. Some of you may be thinking ‘’well how do I become the strongest version of myself?’’. In order for me to guide you through the process, I must first breakdown the 3 elements of strength down even further.
Elliot Hulse is a US born strength trainer and motivational speaker. I first heard the concept of becoming the strongest version of yourself from him. He is an example of what can be achieved when all areas of life are balanced and as strong as one another. I first heard the term “strongest version of yourself” in his programme, StrengthCamp.
The three areas of strength that I mentioned before (Mental, physical and spiritual) can be broken downintowhat Elliot Hulse calls the Four Layers of Strength philosophy.
1) Layer one is referred to as the neuromuscular strength. In simple terms this is the strength your body develops through physical exercises like weightlifting. This is the most common form of strength that people are aware of and focus on the most, and even though it is important, this form of strength is more basic then the rest and can be attained very quickly through training in the gym.
2) The second layer branches out from the physical strength. Elliot refers to it as the physiological strength. This encompasses nutrition to make sure that your organs and your hormonal health are in good condition. This is a very important regime because when we eat we eat to fuel ourselves, if too much of the wrong food goes into our system then it will cause health complications and therefore we will lose balance because of this, Elliot claims.
Having a balanced diet means that you eat the right amount of all nutrients and vitamins every day. This sounds very complicated at first but with a some research online you can find very simple ways to estimate how much of something you should be consuming.
4) The third layer of strength is what Elliot calls the Energetic Strength. This relates to the spiritual elements because it deals with the choices we make in life and how we react to the events. It deals with how we perceive circumstances that we are put in. This links to the spiritual element because it’s all about the inner self and the non-material side of strength.
To increase your energetic strength, you must understand one thing, you give everything the ability to affect you. Every time an event or incident has a negative effect on you, it’s because you gave it the power to do so, by giving it importance. Now that we have that out the way, the next thing you must understand is that in every bad thing there will always be some form of positivity to be found. The simplest way to put it is this, when something fails, you can either both accept defeat and think ‘I’m not going to be able to do this…’ or you can learn everything that went wrong, correct it and try again and again and again until you succeed. It’s all about perspective. If you look at things positively and learn to extract lessons from them to improve yourself using that knowledge, you will then increase your energetic strength.
4) The final layer is applying all your strengths to impact and improve the lives of others. Accumulating and perfecting your strengths is great thing to do, but just as everything else in life, strength is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a Spanish text book, for example, won’t help you become a fluent in Spanish. To accomplish that you have to go out and practice what you’ve already learnt and then and only then will you be able to understand the deeper meanings behind words of the language. In that same way, to become the strongest version of yourself, you must also go out and use whatever you learn or achieve to better other people’s lives. Put a smile on someone’s face, and give the hopeless some hope. Motivate people. Take people along on this journey with you. Learn from each other’s mistakes and grow together. That’s what true strength is: applying that knowledge and using your strengths in a real life setting you help you understand people and everything around you on a deeper level.
Becoming the strongest version of yourself isn’t particularaly hard. It is in fact very simple, however, like all things of value, you should invest your time and effort into attaining and maintaining this version of yourself. Becoming the strongest version of yourself isn’t solely about how much weight you can shift; it’s about mental, physical and spiritually personal growth. Since once you help yourself, you can then go on to move someone’s mindset and have a positive effect on someone else’s growth. That is the most powerful thing you can do as a human being.
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.”
― Will Smith
– Muhammed Mirza Abtahee Beg