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Depression. Obesity. Laziness. Premature death. Besides being global epidemics, what do all these things and others have in common? They are symptoms of a problem facing all of humanity. It’s something I see every day in myself and others. This universal problem is so significant to solve that it’s tempting to say that solving this one problem solves life. So, what is this problem?
It’s being disconnected from our inner strength, forgetting who we are. We are much more than these human bodies that we inhabit. We are multi-level beings: body, mind, soul, and spirit.
What is inner strength about?
Remembering who we are could be considered the point of life itself. Life can be thought of as a game. We forget our true selves, the vastness of our beings so that we can remember. To win the game, you must remember who you are, and I must remember who I am. It’s time to discuss “How to Find Your Inner Strength – and Why That Matters.”
Why Finding Your Inner Strength Matters
The Why is the purpose: the driving force and the starting point for any journey worth taking, any project worth doing.
What is your purpose for finding your inner strength?
During a weekend seminar, Marc Feinberg asked the attendees, including me, what percentage needs to be focused on for the Why and what percentage needs to be focused on for the How. Attendees gave various responses, and Marc patiently led us through discovering the answer he had already proven in his own life. After we had exhausted the range of possibilities for the ratio of the Why and the How, Marc said it’s 100% about the Why and 0% about the How.
That’s how important the Why is!
“People buy why you do, not what you do.” – Simon Sinek
If you have a big enough Why for something, the How can show up much more easily. It can start with something as simple as admitting that there is a solution for whatever you’re facing. Whenever I’ve done that, the answer often comes to mind instantly. Those have been very empowering and humbling moments. I saw that the solution was waiting for me the whole time. All I had to do was be open to there being a solution and then take action once I knew what it was.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Too often, I’ve wanted to know what all the steps would be before taking any action. As a result, I didn’t do anything. Each step shows up when it’s time for me to know what that is. The steps are the How. The How will reveal itself as you move forward. If you have a compelling enough Why, then you will move forward.
Think of whose lives would be impacted if you showed up as the giant that you are. Who benefits when you stop pretending to be helpless and powerless? Whose lives will improve when you realize your greatness?
You’re greater than you think, stronger than you know, and more powerful than you realize. Put yourself to the test. You matter. Your life matters. Who you are and what you do has a ripple effect. Anything and everything about you affects others, so it might as well be something positive.
My favorite quote by Marianne Williamson is from her book “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.” Finding your inner strength inspires other people to find their inner strength. Any contribution you make is multiplied as part of humanity’s growth.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Either finding your inner strength for your own sake or so that others will benefit will be a big enough Why for you. It’s up to you. Service to self or service to others. Which will you choose?
Choose carefully and choose wisely. If you pick the right path, then you will benefit as well.
My Why is freedom of various kinds, including time, financial, and location. It isn’t enough, though, to only have freedom for myself. Life is meant to be shared, and it’s meant to be enjoyable. All we have in life are relationships. My Why extends to those around me having freedom of various kinds.
Freedom also includes positive, healthy self-expression and being the giants that we really are. This or something like it could be a part of your Why.
What expansiveness can you embrace as you become more of who you are?
Think of your Why as already being accomplished and act accordingly. With a clear picture — or at least a basic idea — of what it’s like to have your Why already accomplished, the How reveals itself, step by step. Take each action in turn and watch your life unfold.
How to Find Your Inner Strength: Start Small
If you’re like so many other people, you may have thought, “What strength? I don’t have any strength on the inside or anywhere else.” That’s where baby steps come in. Start Small. Do something daily that improves your overall quality of life, whatever that might be. Add in one change per week. If you’ve maintained that change each day for the whole week, add one more change the following week. And so on.
Pick one area of your life that you’d like to work on. What would it be?
You could tackle your health and fitness. Here’s a sample weekly plan for the first eight weeks.
You could have a green smoothie for breakfast in the first week. Keep doing that after the first week. In the second week, you could have a salad for your evening meal. Keep on with your changes from the previous weeks as you keep moving forward. In the third week, you could make sure that lunch is your largest meal of the day. In the fourth week, you could be done eating for the day by 7:00 p.m. In the fifth week, you could eat only at meal times and stop having snacks. In the sixth week, you could eat double or triple the amount of vegetables. In the seventh week, you could add an exercise such as the long breath technique from Japan. In the eighth week, you could drink at least two glasses more of water each day.
Hopefully, this example shows how simple it can be to do what you might have previously considered impossible. It’s essential to take an overwhelming task and break it down into smaller chunks. Whether it takes 21, 66, or 90 days to create a habit, it is possible. One day and one step at a time.
One change per week sustainably applied can transform your life. If a change isn’t sustainable for a whole week, do something different or keep on until you’ve made it sustainable. You and your life are works in progress. Accept where you’re at, and know you can do something great.
Track your progress, too. Measurable results have an excellent effect on increasing confidence. The more you see you can handle, the stronger you get. The stronger you get, the more you see you can handle. Once you have enough momentum, your strength naturally leads to more strength.
And if you think you’re taking too long to get somewhere, here are some thoughts that might help you keep things in perspective.
It took you many years to get to where you are now, physically speaking. You didn’t become an adult overnight. Your physical life started small, too. It used to be that someone would have needed a microscope to see that you were here at all. Yet here you are. You started small and made it this far against many odds. You could even say that you’re a miracle.
Also, keep in mind that you aren’t alone. Ever. As Mike Dooley said so well in his book “Playing the Matrix: A Program for Living Deliberately and Creating Consciously” about your baby steps being more significant than you realize, “For every step you take, the universe takes 10,000.”
How’s that for an exponential return on investment? You could be much closer than you thought, even if it seems your baby steps are barely accomplishing anything.
“As is so often the case, something that is impossible slowly becomes possible.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
What are some things you’ve accomplished that used to seem impossible?
You learned to walk, talk, read, and write. I’m sure you have plenty of Before and After examples for where you turned the impossible into the possible.
Perhaps you need to give yourself more credit. People, including myself, are much more likely to suffer from an inferiority complex than a superiority complex. Even that can be solved — little by little, piece by piece. Until eventually, you’re in the middle. Not too far one way or the other. No extremes. You’re centered.
It may take years to get to that point, or it may take less time than that. Either way, as both Dan Lok and David Bayer have said, “You’re closer than you think.”
The important thing is to keep starting each day. Small changes lead to big results.
How to Find Your Inner Strength: Laugh at Life
You’ve started small. You’ve begun making some positive changes in your life. This is the precious, pivotal stage where you’re building up momentum. When is momentum the most important? In the beginning. This is before you’ve gathered enough evidence that whatever you’re working on will work out. When is it easiest to give up on something? In the beginning.
That’s where this next How comes in. This How is a reminder to stop taking yourself and everything else so seriously. A sense of humor helps in ways beyond your imagining. Being too serious can lead to many issues, including poor health, ruined relationships, and premature death. Without the healthy release that laughter provides, negative emotions can pile up in your body and get you sick, or negative emotions might explode out of you and destroy relationships.
“Do not take life so seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard
Yes, laughter is that important. In laughter, much strength can be found, especially if you can find the humor in something that doesn’t look funny. Anxiety, for example. Anxiety is a global epidemic, and it takes much inner strength to cure it. I met with a counselor multiple times, and I appreciate that each session focused on specific actions to improve my situation. The most effective therapy is one centered around action.
In “Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety,” Charlie Hoehn shares his story. It’s a beautiful Before and After. Charlie had bottled up tension throughout his body by working all the time, non-stop, day and night. Naturally, that tension needed an outlet. Unfortunately, the outlet was anxiety, expressed through all kinds of symptoms. So, Charlie came up with a healthy outlet for all that tension. Play. And it worked. His book details the Hows of his solution, which points to something significant.
Children know the absolute necessity of play, and there can be a tendency to lose that sense of playfulness as we grow up. I’ve noticed certain things brought into adulthood needed to be left behind in childhood, and certain things left behind in childhood needed to be brought into adulthood.
Some things that need to be brought into adulthood are fun, play, and playfulness. What is a central part of all those things? Laughter.
And thankfully, drugs and alcohol aren’t necessary to have a good laugh. There can be laughter for no reason and not just during laughter yoga.
Granted, like so many other things in life, laughter can be more fun when played as a team sport.
Who do you spend time with that you enjoy? Whom do you support, and who supports you? Who can you laugh with at the best of times, at the worst of times, and at everything in between?
Those closest to you can help you see the humor in life, and you can help them see it, too. It’s great fun having people to share laughter with. Those are some of the greatest connections of all.
“If you can laugh at anything, then you’re bulletproof.” – Ricky Gervais
Find your inner strength by laughing at life. This is part of what being connected with your heart looks like. You can find humor in just about anything with enough practice and awareness.
It also helps to learn from those who have made careers by finding humor in life.
I have found much wisdom and release by watching comedy, including TV shows, movies, and stand-up comedy specials. My favorite comedians are the ones that have a thought-provoking, insightful, positive, and funny perspective on the issues that we face.
If you choose to avoid dirty humor, one source for clean comedy I can recommend is Dry Bar Comedy. I enjoy both kinds of humor.
I’ve often struggled with seeing the humor in things, tending to take myself and life so seriously. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten laughing more.
How to Find Your Inner Strength: Listen for the Lessons
School didn’t end when we were children, teenagers, or young adults. Class is in session every day of our lives, whether we like it or not. Those who keep learning, adapting, and growing are the examples and the way-showers for the rest of humanity. If this sounds like you, then you might be one of them.
Life is always giving you lessons. It’s up to you to Listen for the Lessons. These lessons come in various shapes, sizes, and situations. What can you do to recognize them?
Everything is a lesson, including yours and everyone else’s thoughts, words, and actions. A question you can ask yourself throughout life is, “What lesson is this (situation/thought/result /etc.) teaching me?” Then listen carefully, and see what answer shows up.
“The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.” – Tony Robbins
One lesson is to identify with others. This is covered in teachings such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Treat others how you want to be treated.”
Easier said than done. Yet, right there is the sum and substance of life. All we have in life are relationships: your relationship to yourself, other human beings, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, the planet, and so on.
Think of how you’ve affected others. Hold a mirror to yourself, and reflect on what you’ve said and done.
Imagine a double pan balance scale. This is where there are two scales, one on each side. If balanced, both scales will be at the same height. If one scale has a heavier weight, then they will be unbalanced, and one scale will be higher than the other. The scale with the heavier weight will be lower than the one with less weight.
Start with seeing both scales as being empty.
Now, think of the times that you’ve caused someone pleasure. You did something nice for them. You made them laugh or smile. You treated them well, and they appreciated it. They recognized your good intentions, and things worked out. When they think of you, happy thoughts come to mind.
These people can include your family, friends, romantic partner(s), co-workers, employers, employees, clients, acquaintances, and anyone else you’ve encountered during your life.
Think of the pleasure that you’ve caused others as having a certain weight, and place that weight on the scale that is on the right side.
Would you like to know a secret?
Everything you’ve ever done to others, you’ve done to yourself. Whenever you caused someone pleasure, you caused yourself pleasure, too. This is part of what it means to identify with others.
So far, you’ve placed weight on the scale that is on the right side. Since there is no weight yet on the other scale, things are unbalanced. It’s one-sided in favor of pleasure. There is more to life than pleasure, which you’ve been familiar with since birth.
I’m sure you see where this is going.
Now, think of the times that you’ve caused someone pain. You did something mean to them. You made them cry or frown. You treated them poorly, and they didn’t enjoy that. They recognized your hurtful intentions, and things didn’t work out. When they think of you, sad, fearful, and angry thoughts come to mind.
Again, these people can include your family, friends, romantic partner(s), co-workers, employers, employees, clients, acquaintances, and anyone else you’ve encountered during your life.
Think of the pain you’ve caused others as having a certain weight, and place that weight on the scale on the left side.
The same secret applies here, too.
Everything you’ve ever done to others, you’ve done to yourself. Whenever you caused someone pain, you caused yourself pain, too. This is also part of what it means to identify with others.
Now look at the scales. Which one has a heavier weight on it? The scale on the left side representing the pain you’ve caused others, or the scale on the right side representing the pleasure you’ve caused others?
If you’re like me, you consider the scale with the pain as heavier than the scale with the pleasure. I consider that I’ve caused more pain than pleasure so far in my life. I don’t want things to stay that way. I dedicate the rest of my life to making whoever’s lives I can better because I’ve been here.
This thought experiment with the scales is designed to get you thinking about everyone and everything being connected on more levels than you can imagine. You are them. They are you. The greatest acts of love and compassion come from this place of shared identity.
Everyone affects everyone else. Unless you learn the lesson of identifying with others, you’re more likely to cause pain than pleasure. From this awareness, you can learn and apply other lessons.
I didn’t say any of these lessons are easy. Although some might be, there is an important distinction to make here. Whether the lessons are easy or difficult, avoiding them is costlier than embracing and applying them. Always.
Listen for the Lessons. Learn them. Apply them. You deserve it, and you have enough strength for that.
How to Find Your Inner Strength: Keep Going
You’ve come a long way already. You’ve identified your Why for finding your inner strength. Keep reminding yourself of what your Why is. State your Why. Put it in writing. Share it with those who will support you in accomplishing it. And ask them what their Why is. Support each other. There is strength found in numbers.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls …, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
On your own, you might give up and quit along the way. But if you have someone cheering for you and working with you on achieving your Why, you’re much more likely to Keep Going. And that’s the next How. Keep Going.
Review your progress so far. Give yourself whatever credit you deserve. If you see clearly that you’re already further along than you thought in some ways, that can be very inspiring.
You’ve started small. You’ve developed a simple plan to establish some healthy habits. And you’ve started adding in some manageable, sustainable changes each week. You’re tracking your progress and already seeing some encouraging results. You’re putting more effort into improving your life than most people ever do.
And that’s okay. You’re a leader, making yourself into someone worth following. The path can sometimes be lonely, and you’re strong enough to handle that. The giant within you is starting to show up on the outside. As you shine brightly, you encourage others to shine brightly, too.
You’re laughing at life. You’re sharing happiness with those you love and with everyone you can. You have valuable insights that are funny and inspiring. You’re surprising yourself with your natural humor and expressing more of the divine spark you’ve held inside all along.
You’re listening for the lessons that life has to teach you, and you’re identifying with others. Your communication skills have greatly improved. When there is listening, communication is present. And you are listening.
Things may not always go smoothly for you. That’s natural. What you do with the road bumps matters more than the road bumps themselves.
“The best-laid plans … often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.” – Robert Burns
You’ve got this.
You’ve found your inner strength by starting small, laughing at life, and listening for the lessons. And you keep going. Keep on starting small. Keep on laughing at life. Keep on listening for the lessons. And keep going.
I’m cheering for you.
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