7 Secrets to Inner Strength
Inner strength thrives on collective strength. It’s no surprise that solitary confinement is known to be one of the worst kinds of punishment. It causes irreversible damage to the psyche. It is a known fact that humans are social beings. We can’t exist alone for long. Just as it makes sense for a drop to merge with the ocean, so it also makes sense for humans to co-exist and realize we are part and parcel of the whole. If the ocean can save a drop from rapid evaporation, then a positive community can also strengthen an individual. A strong social bond is key to developing inner strength, so let’s dive into those 7 secrets:
- Practice “Ahimsa”
“Ahimsa,” is a term Gandhi used to describe non-violence- not hurting another either by thought, word or deed. A phrase often quoted from the Bible tells us we should treat others as we wish to be treated. It becomes quite evident that doing good or even talking in a way that nurtures teamwork, togetherness and unity will in effect not only strengthen community but hone our own communication skills and like-ability!
2. Choose Your Side Wisely
Now that we’ve established our groove with others, it’s also time to be discreet. It’s easy to get on the wrong side if one isn’t careful. Some extreme cases will clarify this picture like Hitler brainwashing thousands into believing his ideas. They became a destructive force working on the wrong side of humanity.
More recently, Abdirizak Warsame, an ex-ISIS jihadi from Minnesota explained the almost hypnotic effect an ISIS YouTube speaker had on him that made him believe in ISIS and its radical Islamic ideas. Joining this group completely drained out his inner strength before he realized and finally left it.
Let’s take this a few notches down. Say there’s a trouble maker in a company or team that you work in and he or she thrives on feeding you with inaccurate information or gossip. Without much thought, you join his or her side and before you know it, you’re working against the team- well that could get either you or the company in major trouble!
Perhaps it’s time to put on our discretion lenses and practice distinguishing between constructive and destructive elements. Proper discretion fuels great leadership.
3. Don’t Overdo Talking
Inner strength is also about preservation. Too much talking precipitates energy from our inner being. It also can cause some awkward situations socially and more so politically if you are in a position of power. A person who talks too much is bound to fumble and let out a little more than he or she should have said. In a smaller circle of friends and relatives, this may go unnoticed, but in a work meeting or in front of leaders from other countries, this could be a disaster!
A foot-in-your-mouth moment can be entertaining when it comes to celebrities, but most of us will admit, it’s definitely embarrassing. So whether you’re prone to saying awkward sentences or not, just talking a little less preserves a lot of energy within, which can be channelized later into creative or humanitarian projects. In fact, a little less talking means a little more listening- a listening ear is a sure way to build your friend circle!
4. Be Guiltless
Somehow we’re living in a culture of guilt. People tend to feel bad easily, “I should not have said this to her,” or “I should not have spilt the coffee,” and so on. Quite frankly it’s not your fault if you spilt the coffee- everyone is clumsy once in a while, and as much as we try, sometimes our words may not come out perfectly resulting in unintentionally hurting someone.
Weathering guilt is burdensome to the soul, so simply admit the fault to yourself, apologize and then avoid doing it again. Feeling bad and then not facing the mistake just kills joy and relationships. No one knows why you’re always sorry, upset or hesitant. Excessive guilt is like a hole that can drain all the inner strength, because it not only makes you serious but causes people to avoid you.
A child once complained to his mother that he didn’t want to visit his aunt’s house for the holidays. His mother was upset and asked why. The child replied that whenever he asked her to play with him, she would apologize as she couldn’t fulfill his request in her busy holiday schedule, which consisted of entertaining her high-society friends. If he asked again, she would be on the verge of tears and again feel sorry. He didn’t want to be surrounded by a gloomy face during the holidays.
Thus, instead of taking a little time out of her schedule for him and facing the situation, the aunt chose to feel guilty for not playing with him and thus killed her joy in the process along with his.
5. Yield to Emotional Intelligence
The modern world is a web of rules and norms both visible and invisible. Law books of course tell our democratic systems what to do and not do for a conducive society, whereas, customs or traditions form the norms of our everyday behavior and understanding. Rationally our minds cling to words- written or spoken, and we interpret them to understand how we should conduct ourselves, how we should think and what is considered good.
We depend on external codes of conduct, which is necessary too, but what if there is a code of intelligence embedded in our inner being that can navigate our ship out of trouble and into the sea of collective good and understanding?
This inner compass is called emotional intelligence. It is like the light of our conscience, which knows how to be sensitive to others, how to resolve a situation without hurting others and how to bring out the best in any situation.
People with emotional intelligence seem to be the lucky ones who can “smell the bomb” before it explodes. For example, in the mid 1900’s, the king of Kashmir was traveling with his minister to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Suddenly, on the day of his journey, he told his minister to cancel his plans. Instead, he decided to go to a smaller city far from the capital. Soon news reached them that Srinagar had been raided by invaders and had he been there, he would’ve surely been killed. When his minister asked the king how he knew, he simply replied, “I just didn’t get a good feeling about it.” Thus, with his emotional intelligence, he was able to perceive a dangerous situation and save himself and his minister!
Developing this inner sense means yielding to the voice of one’s conscience every now and then despite the pull of one’s intellect. Birds do this often as their inner magnet tells them where to migrate in the winter. They can travel thousands of miles without a map. Now that’s a great sense of inner intelligence!
6. Practice Compassion
Alright, so we hear a lot of about the need for love and compassion, but really what makes them active words is the fact that they need to be practiced on someone.
Abraham Lincoln in his words, “…with malice towards non and charity for all…,” touches on the very essence of compassion without prejudice or judgement.
The more we practice this “charity,” the more positive energy we emit. Let me tell you about a neighbor in my community. No one knew him because he would leave for work early and come home late. We hardly saw him around. One cold winter morning, a snow-storm threatened the D.C. metro area with road blocks and unprecedented traffic jams. A well-known neighbor got a call that her mother had passed away suddenly. She was in tears and was determined to drive to her mom’s home just 15 miles away. Most of us were busy shoveling the snow that blocked our driveways- about five-feet of snow! Soon, we all found out about the tragedy. To our surprise the ‘unknown’ neighbor showed up with his snow-plow car and cleared up the path so the teary-eyed neighbor could get her car out and drive to her mother’s! To this day he is remembered for his kind act, and everyone thinks of him positively.
Random acts of kindness are great for boosting inner strength. In the “Healing Power of Doing Good,” the authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne describe how such acts release neurochemicals that result in a sense of well-being. According to a study published in the, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015,” practicing acts of compassion, release oxytocin, which is a hormone connected with strong social bonds, overall happiness and longevity.
Who knew being kind to others meant being kind to yourself- literally!
7. Stay Grounded
Interact with people beyond your social circle too. It’s easy to stay cocooned within one’s comfort zone and nothing wrong with that, but just like strength-training, stretching one’s comfort level a little beyond the normal, can make quite a difference!
Sometimes meeting a disagreeable person is just the test that’ll polish one’s inherent qualities of forgiveness, patience and communication (this could mean disagreeing agreeably). One needs a sharp edge to shine a diamond. It’s better to be grounded in those fundamental qualities that bring out one’s humanity.
A great man may even consider keeping his critics’ house near his, for too much praise from friends could be more detrimental to one’s mental health. A person who can stand up to his critics and face his own faults without a fuss is perhaps much better off than one who craves a constant ego massage. Being grounded is part of character building- a vital step in inner-strength training.
The 7 secrets when practiced regularly will not only reinforce one’s latent qualities but also open up new channels for inner strength to take root and flourish. When that happens, as Rudyard Kipling puts it in his poem, “If,”
“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!”
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