Inner strength can be a hard term to personally define. Sure we can say it is just a mindset of strength in the face of adversity but that definition does not really help us understand, grow and utilize the concept.
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. Inner-strength comes in all shapes and sizes. But what it does embody is a kind of a quiet inner-fortitude that allows us to calmly work with whatever comes our way.
I personally think inner strength is much like physical strength – we work with it, we practice like our efforts in the gym – to safely get stronger by learning our limits. If we take this approach we can begin to see that inner strength is much like 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.
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!
Peace and Love, Jim