Is there an area in your work life which worries you, where you keep asking yourself if you’re really strong enough?
Whether it keeps you up at night, or keeps gnawing at you, it’s a miserable question.
And yet something inside wonders about it, especially when you see yourself repeatedly NOT accessing what you “should be doing”.
Or what you would do best to avoid.
What is it about strength?
Let’s reflect on this painful phenomenon.
There must be better ways to galvanise resources than to worry about not having enough strength. True?
Yet, it’s also understandable that you wonder.
Caring people everywhere are reeling in the wake of US elections and asking themselves if we are strong enough.
It’s an almost inevitable knee-jerk reaction when processing fear in a world that promotes a “stronger is better” bias.
Mainstream culture has been all about that for a LONG time.
If you think about it, you’ll know that being stronger is not a cure-all for our problems.
The way you instinctively know that stronger weapons are not the solution, no matter the countless times it’s presented as such in movies OR media.
I’m a Star Trek fan and I loved the movie “Avatar” because they attempted to present a better vision for humanity.
But in both cases I was struck by how crude an assumption about strength they still carry. That at the end of the day, it’s more about weapons than wisdom.
If you think about whatever is your current challenge, can you be absolutely sure that the solution is about being stronger?
What’s actually going on for you?
Depending on what is troubling you, the way forward could well be about developing more strength.
But what if it isn’t what you need first? Or not even what you need at all?
Bees or butterflies don’t need to have the strength of a lion.
Life is so much richer than the most familiar ways in a given society’s narratives.
Life also isn’t random or at least your pain isn’t random.
You won’t find it promoted in mass media but discomfort is a thoroughly healthy signal. Not to mention helpful.
You could treat it the way military, movie or medicine worlds treat it: as something to fight.
But that will only direct your attention on fighting and away from problem solving!
Wiser to engage with what your discomfort is signalling about.
You are an individual and so is your circumstance. It’s worth investigating what you need in particular, in your particular situation.
My personal and client experiences show that what a person needs very often turns out to be different to what they initially think.
In fact to have clarity about what you need is half the battle.
No, scrap that military reference.
To know what you need is half the solution.
HOW are you strong?
The other half of the solution to a painful problem, another way to be strong, comes from alignment with what you need.
When you think about it, alignment with the truth of what you need and with what you care about IS true strength.
We assume strength is about might only because that’s the most publicised form of it.
For many situations, and especially for sensitive scenarios, strength that comes from alignment is more appropriate and effective. Not to mention kinder.
In my days of physical education at school, I assumed myself to be physically weak because I couldn’t match the average athletic performance of my peers.
It was painful to feel and believe myself pathetic.
As an adult however I witnessed and experienced almost supernatural physical strength that didn’t come from exerting muscles at all.
Where in your life already have you ever experienced being stronger than you thought?
One memorable day I did was in an experiential workshop on moving energy. Inspired by the principles of Zen Sword Mastery.
I remember my and others’ bodies demonstrating the physical strength that my eyes were struggling to believe was manifesting.
Another incident of that calibre was when watching a seemingly skinny Tai Chi instructor demonstrating a feat of strength which he explained, mid-manoeuvre, as:
“strength that comes from alignment”.
A reliable phenomena known also to those who practice the martial art called AIKIDO.
How strength comes about
It’s very apt that an alternative to equating strength with might can be found also in the world of protective use of force: in martial arts.
Mushin is a Japanese word for a mental state that martial artists are said to enter during combat and everyday activities.
The literal meaning is “the mind without the mind” and it hints at how strength that comes from alignment is accessed.
This is UNLIKE what the western culturation has drilled everybody in, that if you are facing a problem, the solution is to “try harder”.
Rather, Mushin teaches that alignment is something that happens outside trying or thinking about it.
You know, “do or don’t do, there is no try” as Yoda from Star Wars put it.
You can place your attention on trying to be stronger and flex your thoughts and efforts to become as strong as other people seem to be.
Or, particularly if you’re that bit kinder and more sensitive, you may feel more at home with the strength that comes from alignment.
Many wise traditions teach that stillness “between thoughts” is where inspirations, solutions and love come FROM.
You can’t have a breakthrough through straining or worrying. That’s simply not how it works.
So how can you get stronger?
At this point you may be thinking, yes, great but give us a technique we can use to experience this other kind of strength.
In the last decades, we’ve also been drilled in rescue by “tools and techniques”.
But here’s what energy masters know about that that even Wikipedia knows:
“Some masters believe that mushin is the state where a person finally understands the uselessness of techniques and becomes truly free to move.
In fact, those people will no longer even consider themselves as “fighters” but merely living beings moving through space.”
So instead of leaving you with “tools or techniques” to fight problems, how about a few questions towards more alignment?
1. If you became stronger in a particular situation, how would you be FEELING?
Hint: Be as vivid and sensory about your answer as you can.
2. Is there an already doable way you can TUNE IN with that state right now?
e.g. If the feeling was calm, with a sense of being in my centre, I could tune in with it by relaxing my shoulders, belly and breath.
3. How would it affect your results if you tuned in with your answers to these questions before taking action?
There are alternatives to straining and sweating.
You can be naturally stronger than that.