Re-negotiating one’s definitions of resilience and coping, is bound to shake up the definition of strength too.
What does emotional strength look like?
Taking an inner journey, moving from the level of the personality towards alignment with the authentic self comes with peeling back several layers. Going inwards means encountering deeper and deeper emotional truths, and processing them, living through them, as you go.
Every level will present challenging emotional material that will persuade, almost seduce, us not to move further. These will manifest as fears, anxiety, self-doubt, shame and several other things that we typically prefer to keep under wraps in our outward lives. All the things that the world around us deems “bad” coaxing us into the singular pursuit of “good” alone. A pursuit that is inherently exclusionary and fragmenting.
The work is to find vulnerability in meeting all parts. Integrating them in a healthy way demands a great deal of curiosity, compassion and kindness — emotional flexibility and strength, in other words — and minimal judgement in seeing ourselves as an amalgamation of so many moving, human parts.
Any attempt to hide from, push away or deny the existence of these lesser-than-ideal parts is what keeps us stuck. Liberation and spiritual evolution comes from honouring them. Even embracing the difficulty, anger, despair, loneliness, shame (amongst other things!) that facing them will bring. This requires the ability to flow with, rather than try and outrun these emerging parts. To align and fall in love with all of ourselves, rather than go against the grain and shame and distance some parts.
This will demand emotional strength that looks like:
- gentleness over forcefulness
- vulnerability over perfectionism
- brutal honesty over projection
- allowance over resistance
- acceptance over judgement
- self love over loathing
Aligning with the authentic self is to accept our completely ordinary, imperfect and often mediocre humanness. That takes inner strength. And you might just see that the strength it invokes and calls for looks nothing like the kind of strength celebrated and even upheld in the outer world.
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One year ago: Like waking up again
Two years ago: All my sweat, my blood runs weak
Three years ago: Ten reasons why I love the girls I am in long distance friendship with
Four years ago: Let go, already