Today I’m writing about another form of strength: Inner strength. Just like weight training, it takes commitment and practice to get better, stronger, more powerful. Just like weight training, we have good days, challenging days, and days when we feel we have no strength at all. Just like weight training, the more we practice, the better we’ll be, and the easier it becomes.
Inner strength is not aggression. It isn’t the ability to overpower someone or something, and it isn’t about muscling through a bad situation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. True power is rising above negativity, to feel okay no matter what’s happening around you. This enables you to calmly face challenges, and focus on appropriate solutions for problems without stressing out, raising our heart rate and blood pressure.
When life presents you with a difficult situation, remaining calm may seem near impossible. It may feel as though we can’t be alright until after we make our way through the difficulty. Truly, we need to be okay first, then work the issue. This is not the same as giving up and accepting bad situations, or stuffing feelings deep inside and not fixing what’s wrong. It’s having fortitude to simply, somehow remain peaceful no matter what, to keep the sympathetic (fight or flight) system from kicking in.
The Optimist Creed, written by Christian Larson in 1922 put it so succinctly: “I promise myself to be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.”
We all have the ability to do this. We’re stronger than we think. The difficulty comes because we forget our innate power. Things happen as we grow up that trigger decisions about ourselves that keep us from realizing the strength we have.
The good news is that we can reclaim our strength. We can get it back without spending money, without exhausting ourselves, without spending a lot of time. We reclaim our strength by making a decision: A decision to be all right.
We have a choice as to how we feel about a situation, a person, our surroundings, our life. We also have a choice about how much energy we put into positive and negative thoughts.
If someone says something hurtful, we can choose how much attention to give it. We can choose to hold on to it for a day, a year, a decade or a lifetime, or we can choose to let it roll off of us, as my father says, “Like water off a duck’s back.”
How others act is their choice, how we react is our choice. Letting others bring you down gives them power. Being okay within yourself, gives you power.
When given bad news, we can choose to shut down, muddle through, get angry, hurt, etc., or focus on positivity. Focusing on the positive aspects of things, is a large part of our strength training routine that will make us stronger.
You may want to memorize this excerpt from the optimist creed, “I promise myself to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” How do we accomplish this? Practice. Notice your reactions when you get hurt, upset, offended, etc., and examine them. Then do what you can to somehow be okay. You may be surprised at just how strong you truly are. And if you feel like picking up a pair of weights and pumping a little iron to make your outside strong too, then good for you!
Inner strength, as well as outer strength, creates more happiness and better health.