The world has been in turmoil for over a year now. We have collectively lost a lot including people, routines, jobs and much more. In times like this, it becomes imperative to maintain our inner strength. Trying times always come with challenges that seem nearly impossible to defeat. However, it is times like this that make us stronger. This is not to say that suffering is noble somehow. Suffering should be avoided at all cost, everyone that is lucky enough to have the gift of life should also live without suffering and subjecting others to it. While this is a noble thought, suffering is inevitable.
What can we do in times of suffering then? Should we escape, or should we endure?
Escapism is the most commonly picked answer in such cases. It is easy to escape, takes minimal effort, and thus is more convenient of the two. Escapism, however, doesn’t end suffering. You may drink away your pain for a day, but you will not end it. The only way to end suffering is to endure. Survive in the face of adversity and make your situations better. There are no knights in shining armor in real life. As corny as it may sound, you have to be your savior.
What can we do to be our saviors?
It is a loaded question and needs to be answered with logic. Consider the challenges of life like endurance tests. One requires the right mindset, knowledge and supplies to be able to ace a test. Consider inner strength as your supply in the test of life. You can still pass these tests with low inner strength, but it may be detrimental to your mental health. You don’t just want to survive; you want to thrive, so the first thing you should work on is developing inner strength. Inner strength includes the generation of a will to live to the fullest instead of settling with mere survival. Having a positive outlook on life can be the difference between barely surviving a setback and coming back stronger due to it. No matter how good or bad a situation is, it will pass, so there is no point worrying.
When life throws curveballs at you, they don’t just come in intangible forms; every once in a while, the challenge will come in form of people. When that happens, you have to remember that you should do everything to protect yourself first, then others. So, if you need to distance yourself from a person who emotionally drains you, do it. Remember that the most important person in your life is you, and you will find self-preservation coming to you a lot easier; knowing when to stop and draw a boundary allows for cleaner solutions, even for the messiest problems.
Due to the history of toxic positivity in the human world, many people equate inner strength to apathy. The apathetic mindset not only hurts the people around us but also our journey. Emotions are natural, healthy even, so don’t hide them. If you feel upset, then let yourself process the situation before trying to deny it. Let yourself be angry, upset or annoyed and then get over it. It is better to feel your emotions and then let go, rather than holding onto them till the point of implosion.
This brings us to one of the most important aspects of inner strength and crisis management. We must learn to let go. This may sound like vague advice, but it is quite possibly the key to inner peace. Learn to let go of everything, right from materialistic wares to anger and frustration. You should absolutely let yourself feel your emotions, but you should not ruminate in them too long. Process your feelings, come to a conclusion and take action. If you are upset about something in life, then don’t belittle your own emotion, feel it, throw yourself a pity party if you must but then look for ways to change where you are. Is it a problem you can solve? If not, then your work is done, and you can let go of whatever it is. If you can solve it, then move on to step two and make a plan. You must remember, however, that making plans is seldom enough. You must make a plan and stick to it, which brings us to the next step: acting on your plans. Being able to let go or take action as and when needed allows us to make better decisions even in times of distress.
Strength and resilience are not something you can learn. They are a result of your circumstance and how you deal with said circumstances. I agree that some people may inherit their strength and resilience from their families, but it is not genetic transmission that leads to it. It is the things that you learn through watching the people around you navigate the narrow lanes of a crisis.
The point is that even if you don’t feel solid or resilient now, you can inculcate them in yourself through conscious effort. Make an effort to be more kind to yourself, understand your feelings and emotions, and put them before others as and when needed. Learn to identify your allies and talk to them. You can endure on your own, too, but as mentioned above, our goal is to thrive, not just survive. Know when to ask for help and let the people around you rise to the occasion.
The development of inner strength may seem like too much work, but this is work you want to do. Equip yourself with the knowledge and supplies needed to be able to survive anything. Suffering may be inevitable, but your survival is too. It is up to you to make the most of a bad situation and come out only mildly affected, if not entirely unscathed.