I believe that how people perceive different situations is how their reality is shaped. People view strength in different ways.
My perception of strength is the person that fights inner demons on a daily basis but still allows themselves to be compassionate and open. If a person has been hurt, the kind of hurt and betrayal that cuts them to their very soul, but still allows themselves to love, that is strength. It takes a stronger person to accept that other people aren't always going to be what you want them to be but love them anyway. It takes a stronger person to love someone with true, unconditional love that has hurt them then to throw angry, bitter words at them.
Very often the hell of people's lives is created by themselves although they will rarely take credit for their failings. The weak person will bemoan their fate and do all they can to convince themselves and others that all their problems in life are a result of the terrible things that happened to them as a result of someone else or circumstances that were beyond their control. The strong person will say, “I messed up. I failed but I learned a lesson so it wasn't a complete failure.” Or they will recognize that they are in a situation that is due to circumstances beyond their control but they will stand and face the difficulty with grace and style.
In relationships people perceive strength is being the person that is in charge. The person that makes the decisions. The one that is able to bend the other person's will to their own. I feel that a strong person is able to accept the other person as they are with all their faults. A strong person would never dictate to another person what they have to do or what they cannot do. A weak person will put conditions on the relationship by setting ultimatums such as, “If you do...I will never...” or “I will hate you if you...”. These are words spoken by an, insecure person that has no sense of self worth. A strong person will recognize that you cannot force a person to do as you wish or to be with you and will let them go if that is their desire.
Too many people that claim to be strong are not strong at all but rather bitter, angry people that stew and simmer in the cesspit of their broken dreams. Strength isn't hardness or intolerance. Strength isn't forcing people to bend to your will. Strength isn't loving someone with condition. Strength isn't making yourself out to be a martyr only so that others will feel sympathy for you. Strength isn't trying to force a person that despises you to stay tied to you.
A strong person can allow life's pain to roll over them, perhaps knocking the wind out of their sails for a while but they will pick themselves up and brush themselves off and keep on going. After a trial they will be gracious to those that hurt them. They will stand proudly knowing that they have done the best they could with their life and they will expect no pats on the back. A strong person smiles when it feels as though their heart is being torn from their chest and is willing to allow the pain to heal and risk having their heart broken again.
A strong person knows that life is an adventure and a gift that we are all given and makes the most of every day of that adventure. They know that although there may be loss, hurt and darkness along the way, the days of laughter, happiness and sunshine make it all worth it. They know that it is worth it to have an open heart. They know that true caring is a blessing that comes back to them ten-fold. The people that have suffered hell and come through it retaining compassion, love, joy, and hope are truly the strong people of the world. And this...is my perception that is also my reality.