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How to Find Your Inner Strength and Let It Shine

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.

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 14, 2020

This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

Everyone feels guilty sometimes. Guilt is a common cognitive or emotional state that stems from the perception of ones own wrong doing or inaction, whether that observation is accurate or not.

A person feels guilty if they think they have done something that goes against their own values or violates the moral guidelines of the people around them. In a time when information is abundant and we are constantly bombarded with ideas telling us how we should be living our lives, it can be difficult to navigate our own desires and rationality.

We feel guilty about what we eat, our appearance, how we conduct our relationships and how we raise our children. We compare ourselves to others more frequently than we should, because we are overwhelmed by immense diversity through mass, mainstream and social media.

It is easy to feel inadequate and ashamed.

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We over-scrutinize ourselves and our lives. The more we seek out information to guide us, the more incredulous and confused we become. We are now connected globally to how people live around the world. Not only are we starkly aware of our own privilege, we are also faced daily with the devastation and injustice that is experienced by others. It can make us feel powerless.

Guilt can have a negative impact on our emotional, psychological and physical well being.

Feelings of guilt can sometimes stem from childhood and they are so ingrained in us that we don’t even notice they are there. It can cause us to feel undeserving of success or happiness, often leading to behavior of self sabotage and mediocrity. It can make us prone to living vicariously through others instead of allowing us to be the truest and strongest version of ourselves. It can damage our relationship with our physical body by warping how we consume food, how we indulge in destructive habits and whether or not we take calculated risks. It can limit every aspect of how we live our lives, tainting it with dysfunctional patterns and habits that are hard to recognize let alone break. Even our physical posture can be connected to feelings of guilt. How we hold ourselves is indicative and a result of our truest feelings about ourselves.

It takes a lot of mental strength and tenacity to overcome guilt.

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We must accept that it is a natural and common human emotion that we don’t have to eliminate. In fact, we should instead embrace its presence and use it as a tool for helping us to evolve and grow. The lessons we obtain from guilt can drive us to become better people; to raise better children and to change the world in progressive and positive ways.

So, how do mentally strong people deal with guilt?

1. Reflection rather than regret

Instead of wallowing in negative feelings and living defensively, we can become more assertive about recognizing when we are feeling guilty and why. We can become mentally stronger by addressing the issue and dealing with it rationally to use it to our advantage.

2. Discernment

A common saying these days is ‘first world problems’. In other words, sometimes we focus on trivial things that in the broader scope of our existence are really not that important compared to the tribulations of others. They are sources of discomfort that our survival is not dependent on. We need to be discerning about the things that make us feel guilty. Of course they are important to us personally, but we need to ask ourselves if they are a matter of life and death. Furthermore, we need to source information to help us understand our feelings. We can talk to others; friends, family or even a paid therapist. We can read and research. In this instance too, we need to discern what information is genuine and legitimate; and what is only perpetuating our guilt.

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3. Self determination

Once we know what is making us feel guilty and why, we then need to decide how we really feel about the matter, using all the information we have available to us. Then it is a question of commitment. We need to be mentally strong and confident enough to follow through with our own path without looking back. There is no point sitting on the fence or making a half hearted effort to console our feelings of guilt. Once we know what the source is and have established a course of action, the only way is to go forward.

4. Change

We must be willing to admit that we were wrong. Not only in the behavior that caused the original feelings of guilt, but sometimes in the solutions we have engaged in. Then we must embrace change. We should be willing to not only change our behavior, but also our minds. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We only need to be true to ourselves. Having the flexibility and tenacity to welcome change in our lives takes a lot of mental strength and courage. It also takes practice. Some people are confused by this because it appears hypocritical or contradictory. What they don’t understand is that to be truly strong we need to be malleable. We need to be willing to take on new information and allow a transformation, FOR THE BETTER, to occur.

5. Learn

Learning occurs when we acquire new experiences and information and allow it to alter our consciousness. The only way to learn is to make mistakes and to become familiar with negative emotions. The more we ignore life’s lessons and bury feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy, the stronger and more destructive they become. We should never ignore guilt. We just need to practice understanding it. The more we do this, the better we become at dealing with it.

6. Forgive

A by product of experiencing guilt is to learn forgiveness. We don’t forgive others for hurting or pressuring us for their sake, we do it for ours. When we better understand where feelings of guilt stem from and how they influence our lives, we start to have more strength and space to practice empathy. We can imagine ourselves in the same situation as the people who have wronged us and make sense of their behavior and its impact on our psyche. Once we see things from their perspective, we can forgive them and in the process free ourselves from resentment. We can also get better at forgiving ourselves. Guilt is fundamentally a misunderstanding we have with ourselves. Once we understand our response to certain situations and why we act the way we do, we no longer punish ourselves; we make peace and find acceptance.

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7. Move on

The whole point to understanding guilt and knowing how to process it is to help us to move forward. When we don’t, we get stuck in the same old ways. We can’t expect to achieve a different result if we don’t ever change the manner in which we do things. Reflecting upon the origin of our guilt feelings, becoming more empathetic to others and toward ourselves, committing to change and learning and becoming more self aware will allow us to face life’s difficulties with enthusiasm and resilience.

Featured photo credit: http://www.lizataitbailey.com/2015/11/what-to-do-when-youre-feeling-guilty.html via lizataitbailey.com

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