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Diahanne Rhiney's picture
Diahanne Rhiney
Inner strength: Myth or must-have?

THESE DAYS everyone from life coaches to motivational speakers seem to be talking about 'inner strength'. We live in a time of buzz words, back in the 80's it was all part of the sales and marketing trend; body language, how to influence people ('and make friends'), how to 'sell' yourself.

Speakers were usually successful white American businessmen. By the 1990's psychology had been fused into business and every office had posters of sunsets (remember the grey frames?) with quotes about imagination, motivation and the power of 'self affirmation'.

Nowadays, it is not unusual to see people of all ages reading self-help books. It is not unusual to meet a 25-year old who will tell you 'I'm a lifestyle coach'. Millions of people post motivational quotes on their Twitter pages everyday.

I enjoy this accessibility to positive thinking. Yet I sometimes fear we are getting too lost in the words to stop and really think about the meaning and practice.

As a psychologist, I like to strip away the poetry and focus on how we realistically, practically apply positivity to our daily lives. As my mother once turned and said to me after hearing a motivational quote 'well that sounds great, but what do you do with it?' I laughed, but I knew all too well what she was saying. Talk is talk: how do you actually implement it?

The concept of inner-strength is one that has been thrown around aplenty the past decade. The thing is, I believe it to be more than just a buzz word. I believe it to be a real attribute that needs to be learned, embodied and actualised for a full and happy life. In much the same way as a fitness fanatic goes to the gym and gains satisfaction from seeing his muscles grow, I believe we can feel healthier by honing our inner-strength muscles.

Our inner strength is the core of us. From this muscle, our decisions are made, our perceptions are created, our actions are formed. As a parent, a child, a manager, an employee, a partner and individual; knowing who you truly are 'at your core' is crucial.

I happen to know that if we work on strengthening our inner cores at a young age, we grow to make healthier decisions and react to life situations more confidently. You often hear adults saying 'if I'd known then what I know now...' That is because all too often we let our inner strength be shaped solely by life, rather than taking it upon ourselves to feed and nurture our own sense of self in preparation of life's challenges.

I am on the verge of launching a Domestic violence foundation that is borne from that belief. It's no secret that we are in the middle of a DV pandemic. Of the huge number of young girls aged between 15-23 affected by domestic violence (now approximately 1 in 4) over 50% are unaware that the abuse they endured was abnormal. I have spoken to hundreds of young people; many of them will tell you 'I thought it meant he loved me'.

Self-defence, refuges, prosecutions, are all reactions to behaviour. What if we could instil such a level of self-worth into teenagers that they readily identify unacceptable behaviour instantly?

I believe that establishing wholeness; that is, to understand your purpose, potential, your abilities (and your limitations), your weaknesses, your strengths and your standards for self is the most valuable route to living a contented life.

There are professionals, websites, books and all sorts of tools and mediums that will advise you on the importance of inner strength without truly teaching you the means to apply them. Let's start today. Right here and now I have two methods that you can try right away. More than this, come away and sit with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and discuss. Teach them how to move towards wholeness.

1. Begin to unravel, and know, your self-worth

The conviction that you are a person of value living in a world that makes sense, with purpose. Know that you are a worthwhile person who is worthy and deserving of respect. Many of us exist without giving much thought to what is worthwhile. Begin with your values, what brings you happiness. You may feel that it is important to be honest, and decide that is one of your values. If you embody by that value then you have authenticity. Each time you are honest with yourself and with others your know you are being true to your values and your sense of self-worth will deepen. Take a pen and paper (or your iPad!) and begin with a list. Build on it, add to it, then learn it and live by it. It doesn't have to read like poetry and nobody else has to see it; what matters is that you know.

2. As Sylvia Plath said, 'Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.'
Know exactly what you're goals are and why they are your goals. Don't be afraid to explore and be brutally real with yourself about what you want in life and why. It is vital to know and value your own direction (though life may guide, or push you, off the path at times), so that from it you can always steer true and return back.

Start today, and most of all pass on everything you learn and discover to the people around you. No matter how 'together' they may seem, we all need wholeness. It's a step in the right direction. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Follow Diahanne on Twitter: @diahanneuk and www.diahannerhiney.com

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