By Suma Varughese
Strength is the capacity to accept one’s inner feelings, thoughts or actions without reaction and to exercise choice
For the longest time, I had no idea what strength meant. How could I? I didn’t have any of it. Feelings, any feelings, would overwhelm me and I would inevitably give way to them. Desires, mostly for food, would tickle me softly, and helplessly I would give way. I seemed to have no self-control, no inner power that would enable me to combat these forces without having to suppress them. Suppressing I was determined not to, and therefore I had no other option but to express. I lived in dread of my outspoken tongue that would let fly at the slightest provocation or my unbridled taste buds that ruled what I ate.
It did not help that I had no way to guard my boundaries either. People were often presumptuous, frequently insolent or imposing, but I was unable to put them in their place. The more I strove for self-control, the more fearful I got of my loss of it. As my self-distrust grew, so did my hair-trigger reactions.
Being around controlling people was my particular bane because I had no skill in extricating myself from their domination without being unduly harsh or reactive. I shrank from their presence whenever I could, and when I could not, I brought suffering to myself and them through my reactive and angry outbursts.
Which is why it feels so good to feel growing within me the first, fragile outshoots of strength.
Taking responsibility for what is going on in my inner space has been the greatest source of my newfound strength and consequent peace of mind.
When anger surges because of what someone said or did, I am no longer quite as quick to jump off the trigger because of the increasing recognition that my anger is my business and not anyone else’s. I am learning instead to take the anger deep within me and to lovingly accept it. When I do this, the anger leaves me and I am left feeling peaceful instead. This, I am discovering, is strength.
Strength is the capacity to accept one’s inner state without resistance, fear or guilt. If a headache shows up, strength enables you to peacefully absorb it just as you would the irritation over the fact that your talkative neighbour has just visited. Strength even allows you to give space to the compulsive flow of thoughts that threaten to drown you. Strength is an expansive state that enables you to contain all that is in your inner space without allowing it to spill over into the outer domain.
Of course, I am not yet in a place of absolute freedom. But slowly, very slowly, choice is manifesting. I do not have to watch TV or go on facebook unless I consciously choose to. I do not have to break my diet unless I consciously choose to. I do not have to daydream unless I consciously choose to.Taking responsibility for all this random mindstuff is rubbing the slate clean and enabling me to finally take charge of my life.
The capacity to exercise choice is what strength is all about.
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