What is Inner-strength and how do we cultivate it?
In today's article, I explore what it means to have "inner-strength", whether it can be something we can develop; and if so, how do we go about cultivating it to deal with life's challenges:
What does it mean to have inner-strength?
Resilience, perseverance and tenacity - what all these words have in common is that they give me a sense of deep inner-strength. It’s the power one has to deal with difficult situations; to give their all to a business idea or a goal; or to dedicate everything they’ve got in taking care of their family. It’s the strength one has to fight injustices; or to work for humane treatment of humans and animals. It’s the perceived strength one must have to overcome life’s challenges.
We do need that inner-strength in today's modern life, don't we? From dealing with the cranky child to the colleague who is always running late on projects to the customer who seems to be communicating with us with anger and impatience, to the spouse who seems to us to be nagging us - and then all of this and more happening all at once!
Anatomy of inner-strength
If we look at the anatomy of inner-strength, it’s hard to outline what it exactly entails. But one can see it in those who embody it. These people may not be very tall or physically fit, instead they might be slender and frail-looking. They may not have a fierce look on their faces, instead, they have a kind and gentle face. Inner-strength comes in all shapes and sizes. But what they do embody is a kind of a quiet inner-fortitude with which they calmly deal with whatever comes their way.
This inner-fortitude can take the form of compassion when dealing with an unruly child. Or kind words spoken to a worried stranger. It can be silence in the face of insulting words. Or it can be in the form of strong action in the face of injustice. It can be the choice of non-violence in response to aggression.
When seen in this way, inner-strength sounds really interesting. Wouldn’t you want to have that kind of strength to handle what life throws at you? I have seen the results in my own life where practicing the action-steps of cultivating inner-strength has greatly helped me deal with depression and lack of enthusiasm for life as well as self-doubt and a sense of overwhelm when faced with obstacles on my path. Truly, developing inner-strength has saved my life. But it can also help one deal with other low-level but can help us keep moving forward regardless of what situation you face - from a difficult boss to an ailing health.
Is one naturally born with inner-strength? Can this be developed at any age?
We may have a tendency to have a certain level of tenacity or inner-strength that's innate - something we are built with. But, I've found that it is also something that can be developed; it can be cultivated within us just like a new plant can be cultivated from a seed. The reason for this is that the source of inner-strength comes from our mind. The way we train our mind leads to how well we develop our inner-strength, something, I believe, we can do at any age.
Components of inner-strength
Regardless of what form inner-strength takes, the source of it is from within. It’s the inner-capacity to assess a situation, observe our own thoughts and emotions as a response and it’s the ability to respond wisely and compassionately to what we are experiencing. Inner-strength is ultimately the capacity to train our minds and meaningfully harness the immense power of our mind in day-to-day situations.
The process of demonstrating inner-strength
Here is a trajectory that starts off with mindfulness and ends up with inner-strength showing up as compassionate action:
Responding instead of reacting
From there bringing compassionate action
So as you can see, the components of inner-strength show up in a certain kind of process of being.
5 Action steps to build inner-strength
What you see above is also then, a path to developing inner-strength. The more we practice the above, the stronger we get from within when faced with challenging situations. So this is how the process translates into action steps along a path:
Building our capacity to be mindful
This way we are more in the moment and present to what is going on. This can be developed with either mindfulness and meditation practices.
Building our capacity to observe
When we are present to what's going on, we can observe our own thoughts and emotions. By staying with those thoughts and emotions, we help take off their edge and as a result keeping those strong emotions in check.
Building our capacity to respond instead of react
When we are able to observe, we are also better able to respond with consideration and forethought instead of impetuously reacting to what's going on.
Building our capacity to bring compassion to the situation
This means bringing in patience, understanding, forgiveness and loving-kindness to ourselves, the event and those involved.
Building our capacity for compassionate action
From this compassionate attitude, we can generate the inner-strength to take compassionate action.
There you have it, each time we practice along this path, we build our capacity to better deal with the challenges of life until there comes a time where things that use to be immensely stressful and distressing, we now find much more easier manageable to deal with. The irate customer doesn't bother us as much. The unruly student is much easier to engage with. The nagging wife or husband is no longer a source of stress. The slow colleague doesn't upset us as much. Instead, in each of these situations we are more gentle and kind, leading from our place with compassion and taking constructive actions to deal with situations.
This is the power of building up our inner-strength through regular practice!
A Process Worth Developing
Establishing inner-strength within oneself is a process and it is a practice. It entails a journey of self-discovery through introspection, a letting go of negative patterns, a practice of ingesting high-energy, uplifting content daily, a practice of meditation to cleanse and calm our minds, as well as a deep sense of awareness of our body and gentle caring of it.
This inner-strength is like a rose plant that we tenderly care for daily with gentleness, repetition, and awareness. This skill comes in handy when we are in difficult situations but to develop the skill we must practice in easy-going situations - during times when the pressure is low. Just like the athlete who trains for a big event, we too must train for the big events in life.
I call inner-strength a skill because it is something we can learn to refine and because it is an art form. It is one of those things that we never learned growing up unless we saw adults embodying this invaluable treasure. I’ve always been an optimist never thinking that I would run into a difficult situation. But when I hit a challenging moment, I found myself without an anchor and without the resources to deal with it. By trial and error, I painfully realized over time, that these situations were doubly difficult for me because I had not learned the art of inner-strength. I did not know what to say, how to deal with my thoughts and how to handle my own emotions. I had no knowledge of ways of thinking and being that could help me resolve those challenges and I had nobody I could look to for help. And that is a very dark place to be in.
Inner-Peace Chats: A New Way To Move Within
That’s why I want to create resources that can help you prepare - not pessimistically expecting a challenging moment, rather realistically understanding that difficult moments do arise and we need to help ourselves come through those moments stronger. I'd love to offer you my presence and guide you on cultivating deeper inner-peace and sense of resilience. I've created something called the Inner-Peace Chat which is a comforting conversation during moments where you feel weak, distraught or simply in need of an uplifting boost. And according to what you need in the moment, I will guide you through a process and a meditation to help you deal with the emotional upsurge you are experiencing.
It will be an hour-long process and you will receive in your inbox a customized action plan to cultivate inner-peace after our conversation.
This new offering, the Inner Peace Chat is in a beta-phase which will be a higher investment down the road, after I've done a few chats and refined my process. Right now, you can be part of the founding group with at the early-bird pricing. I invite you to take this opportunity, which at the moment, is the only way to get one-to-one time with me, unless you are part of my larger an online program, Happiness Gameplan.