The Foundation of a Strong Mind
When it comes to strength of mind there is, not unlike outer and inner beauty, an appearance and an actual state. In the society we’ve created around us we’re focused mainly on the image of inner strength, rather than on its very foundation.
We value courage, confidence and commitment as signs of mental toughness. And it’s not uncommon for us to aspire towards these characteristics in order to acquire strength of mind. But, in a way, these qualities are empty. You can be brave doing something you don’t want to do, you can be confident in what others wants you to be and can be determined in doing what you were told to do.
In a deeper layer, strength of mind is about self-control. It’s about deciding for ourselves what and how we think, instead of letting it be determined by what we encounter. It’s about making up our own minds and standing strong in defending what feels right or what we know to be true.
A mind that performs powerful feats, but does so under the control of external instructions (either direct or suggestive) is still very pliant and merely an instrument of another’s will. And therein lies the key to psychological power. It’s about standing up for what comes from within, rather than simply being unyielding.
This also means we have to reach a certain level of consciousness in order to intensify our inner strength. We have to be aware of outside influences in order to cancel them out, we have to be aware of what feels right to us and we have to gain a deeper understanding of life in general. Ignorance keeps us compliant and therefor weak-minded, even when what we do has the appearance of strength.
The opposite can also be true. Something that appears to be weak, can be the result of true inner strength that is unrecognized by society. Not wanting to mentally or physically hurt someone while others are daring you to do so – for instance – can come from a source of power deep within. Standing behind that source is real strength.
But that real strength has two components: the act itself and how you think about that act. In the above example strength was shown (but not seen as such by others), but it can in reaction lead to you thinking yourself weak or cowardice for not doing it (because that’s what everybody is telling you). And that is also a weakness of mind. Fully standing behind what you know to be right strengthens the power you possess.
And to close the circle on that, to stand behind your innermost beliefs and convictions, you must make use of the instrumental strengths like courage, confidence and commitment. It requires you to know better, to stand up to others, to overcome shame of being different and to keep working on your personal empowerment while doing these things.
A great misconception is that strength and force are the same thing, but that’s not at all the case. Force only exist where the foundation of inner strength is absent. True strength is based on wisdom and is about gently and confidently protecting what is considered to be soft by those who are only able to see the appearance of strength.
It’s not about overpowering others to survive the present circumstances, but about embracing the compassion for others that seems counter-intuitive in a world where we can only seem to thrive at the expense of others. And we will only be able to change that world when we find the tenacity to show and preserve the inner strength that can only be found on that more fundamental level.