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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Find Your Inner Strength and Let It Shine

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How to Find Your Inner Strength and Let It Shine

Your inner strength is best defined as, “stable traits, an enduring source of well-being, wise and effective action, and contributions to others.” [1] In other words, your inner strength is your ability to do the right thing, the right way, without any concern about what others think.

In this article, we’ll look into how to find your inner strength so you can stay strong even when you face adversity.

How Do You Handle What Life Throws At You?

Think about the one person (may be more than one for some of you) at work who annoys everyone because they seem to lack emotional intelligence. They are always talking about controversial topics or stereotyping people in the worst kind of way.

You probably have two thoughts flowing through your mind. The first is telling them why no one likes them and why you wish to be left alone. The other is going to be a more compassionate approach to better understand them and see if you can address the root of the problem.

Think about the last time someone cut you off on the road while you were driving home. Again, you probably found yourself dealing with two possible choices. You were not sure if you were going to react in an aggressive manner and race around them, cut them off, and then slam on your brakes in front of them. Or you could always take a more thoughtful approach and decide to let it go. You assess the situation and realize you were not injured, and consider the possibility that they genuinely did not know you were there.

In one last example, how would you react if you felt like you were overlooked for a promotion? Even if you were the most qualified, does allowing yourself to get upset and quit abruptly help your cause? Instead, consider the many opportunities you were afforded throughout your career.

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There is a level of contentment, consideration, calmness, and patience found within someone who uses their inner strength. Just as the word “strength” traditionally implies, there is also a level of endurance necessary to use such restraint throughout your life.

This is important to understand because your inner strength is essential to you living your dream life. Your inner strength helps you to deal with the obstacles life is going to throw your way. When you think of words like resilience and perseverance, they are both tied to a deep sense of inner strength and purpose.

You know how I love to reference comic books, so think about the Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. Captain America (Steve Rogers) is willing to fight against the authorities and fellow Avengers in order to protect his friend Bucky Barnes. This escalates to the point that some of his friends are imprisoned; while others are fighting him at ever corner. In a moment, Rogers goes from beloved hero to wanted fugitive. His fall from grace is encapsulated when he even has to surrender his famed shield.

However, you can tell that Rogers is at peace with his decision to stand by his Bucky against all opposition. He likely wishes there could have been another way, but he knows there is nothing he would change.

You are going to find yourself dealing with situations where you are standing against the grain. Where conventional wisdom is going to push you in a direction you are not excited about going.

Your inner-strength or fortitude could take the form of compassion against someone everyone dislikes. Yet, it could also present itself in the form of strong action in the face of indifference.

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Think of your inner strength as your ability to handle whatever life throws at you in a compassionate and thoughtful way.

How To Tap Into Your Inner Strength

If you are like me, you have plenty of voices inside your head at any given moment. These voices can represent a variety of reactions, thoughts, and emotions you could utilize.

For example, how would you feel if you had to present information in-front of a group of colleagues or superiors? Some people will feel nervous and apprehensive, while others will feel confident and excited.

Now, consider the words each emotion may convey to you…

  • Someone who is apprehensive may wonder if they still have time to back out.
  • While a person who is nervous could be worried about getting a question they do not know how to answer.
  • If you feel confident, you are telling yourself that this is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd.
  • And someone who is excited may be visualizing themselves receiving a standing ovation at the end of their presentation.

Even though you have a variety of voices reacting to every situation, they really come down to two voices, your inner strength and your inner critic.

If you want to increase your ability to listen to your inner strength, you need to work on staying present in the moment. Mindfulness is a great way to allow yourself to respond, instead of react to the events in your life.[2]

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In the examples earlier, you could react to someone cutting you off on the interstate by cutting them back off. Or you could take a moment and realize that the issue has not impacted you in anyway. However, if you escalate the situation, there is now the possibility that you have compromised your well-being.

Be Mindful of What Is Going on Inside of You

It is best to think of mindfulness meditation as the practice of creating space for your thoughts.

When you take a moment and ponder how you want to react to a situation, you are tapping into your inner strength. Moreover, by practicing mindfulness meditation on a regular basis, you will improve your ability to hear your inner strength.

The good news is you don’t need anything special to practice mindfulness mediation. In fact, all you need to do is follow these six simple steps:[3]

  1. Take a seat. Find a place to sit or kneel that feels calm and quiet.
  2. Set a time limit. It can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a few hours. Recommend 5 to 10 minutes when starting out.
  3. Notice your body. How does your body feel in the position you chose? Do you feel any pressure on your joints from sitting or kneeling?
  4. Feel your breath. Follow the path of your breath as it moves through your body.
  5. Notice when your mind has wandered. You cannot keep your mind from wandering. Instead, whenever you notice it has wondered, simply return your focus to your breath.
  6. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t worry about where your mind wanders. Allow yourself the ability to experience the moment and once the moment passes, return to the present.

When you stay focused on the present moment, you disable the critical part of your mind. In the present, there is nothing to worry about (like the future) and there is nothing to feel guilty about (as in the past). In the present, the only thing on your mind will be, “what is the next best decision I can make”.

For example, if you lost your job, the only thing you should be thinking about is, “what now”? If you are worried about the future, you are thinking, “how can I going to pay these bills“? If you are in the past, you may be telling yourself, “you messed up again and you can never get things right“.

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Empower Your Inner Strength To Overcome Adversity

Once you have trained yourself on how to hear your inner strength, the only thing you have left is to let it shine. By this, I mean you have to listen to what your inner strength is telling you.

You may find yourself in a situation where your critical voice is cautioning you about the cost of following your inner strength. Think back to Captain America’s story I mentioned earlier. It literally cost him everything to follow his inner strength, yet he did it anyways.

It would be a disservice for me to tell you it is going to be easy to listen to your inner strength. I am not saying that by any means. However, you will find that by ignoring your inner strength, the cost is much higher than you expected.

When you ignore your inner voice and do not employ your inner strength, you will face regret. That quick reaction may have caused you to say something that you cannot take back. Or your concern about how others will react to your authentic feelings may have saved a relationship you were better without.

Think back for a moment if Captain America did exactly what everyone else wanted and turns Barnes over to the authorities. Two things would have likely happened. One, the authorities quickly find out Barnes was framed, he is released, and Barnes is understandably upset with Rogers for giving up on him so quickly. Two, the authorities do not find out in time and Barnes is executed for crimes he did not commit. In either case, Rogers is left with the regret of knowing he did not use his inner strength and do what he knew deep down was necessary. Instead, he succumbs to the pressures of society and now someone he cares about has to suffer for no reason.

Final Thoughts

Following your inner voice and being yourself is the key to finding and building your inner strength. The path is not always going to be the easiest, but it will always be the most fulfilling. Find your inner strength and be courageous enough to let it shine.

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More About Inner Strength

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Bishop via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Grow Your Inner Strength
[2] Reflection Pond: What is Inner-strength and how do we cultivate it?
[3] Mindful.org: How to Practice Mindfulness

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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