If you are thinking: I have no strength!
it just means that the part of your mind that judges and condemns you
has convinced you of a lie.
Nobody has no strength.
If you have swallowed this ridiculous lie, the time has come to cough it up.
Yes, find a doggie bag and do yourself the favor.
No one—not even you–can destroy your strength.
Your strength may be hidden–it may be beaten down–but it is in there.
Instead of denying its existence,
let’s find it, restore it, and build it.
No matter how little or how much strength is available to you today,
I propose we increase it.
What do you say?
Are you willing to give it a go?
Let’s DO this!
What is strength?
You may be thinking: Well, I would like to be strong…but what is strength?
We are used to talking about specific kinds of strength: physical, spiritual, moral,
intellectual, economic, political, military…
In my view, psychological strength is the foundation of all of them.
For a discussion of why, see my post:
What is the most important relationship in my life?
When I speak of building strength I am talking about building psychological strength.
But what, exactly, IS psychological strength?
Asking the “What IS it?” question
In grade seven, I didn’t know I had a scientific mind.
I certainly never expected that I would pursue scientific questions all my life.
I didn’t even like science class. I thought it was really dull!
But a wise observer might have guessed there was a little scientist in the making
if he had seen the time I stayed after school
pressing and pressing my science teacher to answer my question.
He had been teaching us about electricity.
I told him: I don’t understand what it is.
He repeated everything he had already covered in class.
He described every aspect of electricity. Again and again.
After each point he made, I said Yes, I get that. Yes, I get that. Yes, I get that.
When he had finished, I said: I get ALL that. But what IS it?
He launched into describing all its features again.
I insisted that he answer my question.
The poor man had no idea what I meant.
And I gave up on ever understanding what electricity IS.
I moved on within a few years to what turned out to be my life long question:
What IS malignancy, in psychological terms?
That is, what is the nature and cause and cure of destructive thinking?
In my doctoral research, I developed a theory on what it is and how it can be overcome.
Since then I have been applying my theory in building health and strength and freedom.
So…what IS psychological strength?
You can’t build anything if you don’t understand what it IS.
Rather than describe all the features of psychological strength,
I’m going to explain to you what it’s MADE of and how it works.
The inner balance of power
There are two forces inside you that are in a constant war for control of you.
One side is the constructive part of your mind (psychoanalysts call it the ego.)
The other side is the destructive part (the superego: judge and tormentor of the ego.)
Your psychological health, strength and freedom depend on which side is winning.
Which side of you has the energy and strategy to win?
The side where you channel your intelligent energy is the side holding more power.
One side wants you to have a happy life.
The other side wants to defeat you. Maybe even kill you.
Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the way it is.
If you know a drug addict, alcoholic or depressed person and have watched
the bloody battle between these two sides of him, you know what I mean.
If you yourself have ever lived on the edge, you know very well what I mean.
How can I evaluate my current strength?
If these two conflicting sides of you are in balance,
as in the photo above, the war within you is in a stand off.
You are probably doing ok.
Not fully living, but not dying either.
Treading water. Staying afloat.
Suffering and happiness are about even.
You’d give your life a C if you had to grade it.
But maybe things are better, or worse, than that for you.
Take a good look at your life in each of the eight areas we work on here in
the golden garage: identity, mind, spirit, character, body, capability, contribution, love.
In my post What moves can I make today toward being a lovable man?
I describe what that takes in each of the eight areas.
By being lovable I mean being strong, healthy and free.
Ask yourself: in each of these areas, where am I directing my energies?
Am I channeling my energies in a constructive or a destructive direction?
For example: in the area of body, am I constantly ranking on myself, judging myself unattractive, fat, etc.,
OR am I channeling my energies toward improving my health and appearance?
Another example: in the area of capability, am I constantly ranking on myself,
judging myself as a failure, hopeless to get a good job,
OR am I channeling my energies into my education and training for a job I want?
In each area, ask:
how much of my energies am I devoting to building myself and others?
versus how much am I devoting to tearing myself and others down
or simply staying passive and paralyzed and doing nothing but suffer?
Looking at where your energy is going will reveal how you are actually living.
You are very brave to ask yourself these questions. Most people never do.
Insight gained may be sobering, but will shed light on your path toward getting stronger.
Remember that I am your ally. I am not judging you. I know how hard this is.
It took me years to face how destructive I was of my own well being,
and to gain the insights that allowed me to change.
I’m with you now as you face whatever you need to face.
Be aware that the destructive part of you will take any insights you gain
and beat you up with them!
“What an idiot you are! What a loser!” your superego will say.
Tell it to go to hell, and grab your insights back.
Your self evaluation is to assist you to change for the better, not to make you feel worse.
How can I increase my strength?
Here’s the good news:
The way you currently channel your energies IS NOT PERMANENT.
You can change.
To build your psychological strength,
you must decide to take back the energy that you made available
to the destructive part of you.
Taking it back will allow it to go where it belongs: Building your life!
Winning the war
Each time you retrieve energy so it can resume its original constructive purposes,
it’s a victory.
Your winning campaign is made of one small victory after another.
It’s the march of the pawns.
This is how you build psychological strength and take control of your life back
from the side of you that has been defeating you.
To fight and win this war, you must challenge yourself.
You do that by asking yourself a really good question:
Why would I give my energies to the side of me that’s out to defeat me?
Go ahead–ask yourself this question every day.
The more you challenge yourself, the less likely you are to side against yourself.
Because it reveals how absurd it is to side with your own worst enemy.
It makes a whole lot more sense to side with your own best friend!
That’s how you build your strength.
Do you see a place where you can win your first victory?
I hope you will write and tell me.