Hi and Welcome back to the Art of Onward!
Today I'm led to talk with you about why we need to be strong. Why we push ourselves minute by minute to grow, expand, take that next courageous step in our forward direction. Perhaps, though, it's time redefine what exactly we see as "Strong or "Inner Strength". And to check in with the alternative - what happens if we stop.
What is Strength? It can range from sheer willpower and stubborn discipline to a whisper of acknowledging the pain we find ourselves somehow surviving. Being strong does not mean we are Amazonian Women or Herculean Men a hundred per cent of the time.
Perhaps we should redefine what strength is:
- Acknowledging the Pain and taking the time we need to work through it. Denying it just puts it on hold, it will come back, and it will cut harder and deeper. So acknowledge and carry yourself through it now.
- Stretching our Recovery Muscles - every time we take a step outside our comfort zone, we are stretching ourselves. If we take one little step every day, we can rebuild our strength.
- Daring to Love Ourselves - Not as easy as it sounds, is it!? Loving means Accepting. All of us. The hurt child within, the angry monster, the scared victim - loving them each, talking with each of them with "I hear you", "I see you", "I love you", "I will take care of you" ... These are acts of Loving Ourselves.
- Embracing Faith and Hope again. These were huge for me. I lived on hope, and my Faith was most important to me. Both disappeared at the same time. In a blink of an eye.
- Be willing to smile, and you'll even find yourself laughing from your depths again. I remember the exact moment I smiled the first time, it was months after, and my cheeks felt odd with the movement. As you read this, learn from my mistake and get there quicker - it feels good. Smiling is life giving. Smiling doesn't mean the pain is gone, it means your life is still there. Finding joy, or kindness, authentically, does not negate your pain journey, it simply reminds you that there is still good at your fingertips, awaiting your acknowledgment.
- Strength is also standing up for Your Self. It is Moving On to a better place. It is Providing Your Self with a Safe Place - Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually, Mentally. Or telling someone to leave. These are big steps of Courage. Find Someone Safe to journey this with you - these are Not things you need to accomplish on your own.
From every corner, it seems, we hear this message:
You Got This
Be the Best Self You Can Be
The list goes on for ever. We've heard these phrases. We've read these phrases.
So okay, Why should I be strong? Why should I continue forward?
Leafing through my recovery journals, I see so much struggle, the pages are heavy with grief, depression, anxiety ... and the desire to be strong although I'm excruciatingly weak. These are tough pages to read! And yet, so encouraging to see how far I've come, how much I've grown, since those torturous days (you know, the kind that never seem to end ... and when they actually do, sleep does not offer the relief we've been anticipating ).
How did I get to where I am today? Because I forced myself to be strong. That's why. And that's how. I took the journey in baby steps, I lost more momentum than I gained most days, but I kept pushing myself. And from the bottom of my heart, if I can do it, so can you.
What's the alternative to pushing ourselves, to holding ourselves accountable? I'm watching a few of these happen with people I really care about, and I write these examples with deep heartbreak.
- Addiction. In many forms. But recently I found out a friend of mine has succumbed to uppers and downers, on top of his alcoholism. Cocaine, among other things. The potential in this man is outstanding, and is now lost in the fog of his addiction. Every day he succumbs to these habits, he is robbing the world of all the greatness he has to offer. He stopped pushing onward, fighting for his tomorrow.
- Bitter Anger. Again, in many forms. Anger turned on to ourselves, on to others. It sneaks right on in to conversations. It's startling, hurtful, and non conducive to growth. Anger derives itself from all sorts of underlying emotions we are not caring for - fear, hurt, loneliness ... it's a long list. Anger in itself is not "bad", but how we deal - or don't deal - with it can stunt our forward growth dead in its tracks. Leave Anger to grow, without acknowledging its roots, and bitterness WILL ensue. That's a tough one to combat after it's been planted, watered, nurtured, and allowed to grow.
- More Pain! Again, I can not stress enough - what we resist persists. Cliche, yup, but oh so true. I've lived with someone who resisted his pain, did not know how to deal with it, so he just didn't. And it came back, again and again, until he has been stripped of all he's cared about. What we resist not only persists, it grows down there in the shadows, and when it attacks next time, it is meaner and more cutthroat than ever. Resist it again, and next time will be even worse.
You get the picture - obviously I'm speaking straight from my heart, as I encourage you, all of us, to really take that hurt and process it - properly, healthy, courageously.
You WILL thank yourself later. And you WILL get through it. Find and get help, use the tips I've shared with you in my other blog posts - but whatever you do - work through it. You can not conquer until you do. And you can not grow until you conquer it.
- Self Hate. Loving our entire whole selves is a struggle as it is - imagine how much more difficult it is, when we are bitter, angry, getting attacked by our own pain repeatedly at the most unexpected moments, and we are numbing ourselves with alcohol, drugs, or other addictions - so many out there to choose from! What is the ultimate result of self hate? Losing our friends, our loved ones, our partners. That's an entire book right there, so I'll leave it at that. You get the picture, I'm sure.
- Suicide. With suicide rates soaring, especially among teens, we need to fight harder than ever. It is time to heal ourselves, and then turn around and heal each other. We have no time to lose. Safe your life with Courage, and save others with what you've learned in your journey. Yes, you can. And you will. If you keep fighting and moving forward.
Whenever you feel like you can't be strong anymore, know you are not alone. Remember the air you breathe is filled with love. Take in courage from the Angels, here to serve you and give you courage for your journey.
It's hard. It's excruciating. These are tough days. I know. And my heart aches for you. That is why I started this blog. For you. Take your time, these days and nights are yours to battle for your healin.
Your Courage, your Strength, your WillPower, your Hope - they are all still there. Don't worry if you can't feel them all the time. They are wrapping you in your healing process, and are EACH ready to jump in when you're ready.
It's true - You Got This. Grow. Heal. Be as Courageous as you can find Strength to be. Every little tiny bit WILL amount to healing. Don't rush it, take your time, but whatever your do, DO NOT stop.
I pray Courage and Strength on you.