If you were to walk outside on a cold, blustery winter day with a pair of jeans and a thin shirt, you would naturally feel cold. But if you also wore thermal underwear, a winter coat, boots, gloves and a knitted cap, you would be much more comfortable walking outside.
Building inner strength is like wearing winter gear to protect yourself from the barrage of changes and challenges that the world brings every day.
If we resist, deny or become weak in the face of challenges, we do not learn and gain inner strength.
Inner strength will fortify us against the onslaught and demands from the outer world and help us meet them with greater poise and ease.
How can we build inner strength? Here are 3 ways…
1. Be self-reliant
Many of us are attached to outer things and people for our sense of self-worth, well-being and happiness.
While it’s true that we cannot live without others, to be overly dependent on them for how we feel about ourselves and how to live our lives is disempowering.
It’s good to confer with others to get their opinion, but the ultimate decision should come from within us.
Over-dependence on the approval and opinion of others ends up making us lose confidence in our own abilities to judge what is good for ourselves and make sound decisions.
Another form of dependency on others is needing them to make us feel good about ourselves. If we are feeling down or bored, we have to do something about it ourselves. Bored people are boring! Why impose our doom and gloom on others?
We have to lift our own mind and change our own moods ourselves. That’s the only enduring solution. Any encouragement or upliftment others provide us will only be temporary. We will still be left to contend with our own mind. Read How to master your moods.
No one can make another person happy. They may be able to make us temporarily happy, but the real happiness that we are seeking is to be found within ourselves. In fact, our essential spiritual nature is happiness. Read, True happiness is inside—really?
So long as we are looking for approval, well-being and happiness from others, we will not be able to build our inner strength. We have to develop self-reliance.
2. Protect your mind against negativity
A mind habituated to negative thinking and dependence on other people will immediately go weak in the face of difficulties. It’s very important to cultivate a positive mind to build inner strength and resilience to outer challenges.
A positive mind can be nurtured in many ways such as consciously choosing to look at the bright side of things, being grateful, judging less, accepting more, being humble, caring and kind. But there’s much more…
The mind is a delicate instrument that is easily bruised or hurt. Think of how you would handle a soft flower petal. You would have to be very careful to protect it from rough handling, dryness and heat.
In the same way, the mind has to be protected from negativity from the outside. We have to be very discerning when it comes to choosing who and what we keep company with.
The people with whom we spend our time, the flow of our conversations, the news we listen to and read, the social media platforms we participate in, the programs and movies we watch—all these have to be scrupulously chosen. Read 4 Tips for a positive mind
When we strive to protect the mind from negativity, it grows in inner strength. A powerful way to do this is to be in spiritual company every day. You can do this by feeding your mind a regular diet of inspirational or spiritual material. You can listen to talks given by spiritual teachers, meet with other like-minded people to discuss spirituality, or read spiritual books, magazines, and articles on your own. Read more about being in spiritual company in How to be resilient in the face of adversity How to Be Resilient in the Face of Adversity
3. Have a daily spiritual discipline
The surest and best method to build inner strength is to have a daily discipline of solitude, reflection, prayer and meditation.
Take some time early in the morning, before starting your regular daily activities to sit in silence all alone in a special place in your own home that is dedicated for your spiritual pursuits. The early morning time will ensure that your surroundings are quiet and peaceful.
Gain inspiration and uplift your mind by reading or listening to some spiritual or religious wisdom. Then, put aside the book or recording and reflect on what you just read or heard.
Reflection helps to clarify the ideas you just took in and imbeds them into your consciousness. This will still your mind and make it peaceful. It will infuse it with positive vibrations that will influence how you view and respond to the rest of your day. What’s more, the words will instil your mind with spiritual values that will build faith and inner strength.
When the mind is made peaceful and reflective, it’s ready for prayer. Prayer tunes the mind to the divine, the infinite source of power. A mind that is keenly focused on God or the divine gains great inner strength.
And lastly, meditation. Meditation is an indispensable habit of a spiritual seeker. Meditation has many benefits, but the greatest gain is the peace that you feel when you shift your awareness away from the noisy thoughts and place it on the Self or the Inner Witness. This is who you really are.
The drama that the mind projects that causes fear, worries, anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, resentment, and other similar negative emotions is seen as just that—merely drama. It’s amazing how the mind becomes suddenly quiet when you shift your attention to being the witness of the thoughts. Read Meditate successfully with this method.
Needless to say, meditation is the most powerful way to build inner strength because it breaks down your identification with your mind and directs it to the source of all strength—the Self within.
Having a daily spiritual discipline involving spiritual reading and reflection, prayer and meditation is a tremendous aid to gaining peace of mind and happiness Read more about it in Daily Habits of a spiritual seeker.
Three crucial methods
Developing self-reliance, protecting your mind against negativity and having a daily spiritual discipline are three powerful and effective ways to build inner strength.
They may not be the easiest to implement but are certainly crucial to our well-being and happiness.
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