Seeing the best in life's challenges

A Balance of Personal Strength

I am thinking about what it means to be a strong person.

I am not talking about physical strength.

We talk about someone having a strong will. We talk about people having strong beliefs. People can be strong when they are resilient. Someone can have a very strong faith. We all know people who are solid. The rocks.

Maybe we think of strong people as those who have lots of opinions and don’t hesitate being vocal about them. We think of people who are self-advocates and go-getters, people who make things happen. They say “I know what you should do…” They do what they need to do to get what they want. Don’t stand in their way! They are in charge. They are direct and ask for what they want (from you). They are the chiefs that surround themselves with staff. Let’s call this Outer Strength.

OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic here, but you get the idea.

I am one of the strongest people I know. I hold ideas and beliefs that I have thought about and researched and tested and experienced. While I am open to new information, I have spent so much intellectual time on the ideas I hold to be true, that it is hard to change my perspective. It only changes with serious internal consideration. But unless someone knows me really well, they don’t see me as strong.   Let’s just say I have Inner Strength.

Think about people that you know. Which kind of strong are they?

What’s different about me is that I don’t impose my ideas or beliefs on others. I don’t talk a lot about them unless I am asked. I don’t try to convince others that my truth should be their truth. I love to share what I think to promote discussion, but I don’t feel like I need to convert anybody. I don’t ask anyone else to do something for me, unless there is a balance.

I will work hard to get what I want. But I won’t do it at someone else’s expense. It’s what feels right to me.

I have spent an awful lot of time around the more typical strong person. They usually don’t “get” me, and I think I can be very frustrating to them. I don’t make any sense, because I am operating under a completely different paradigm. I am not weak. They attempt to use their powerful approach to convince me or direct me, and I nicely say no, thank you, because I already have my own agenda. I am happy for them to have their opinion, so I don’t fight them.

Outer Strength that attempts to control others is not respectful. It takes a lot of Inner Strength not to get swallowed up sometimes.

So what would it look like if we all found a personal balance of Inner and Outer Strength without the need to impose our way on others?

There is nothing wrong with using a direct approach and asking for what you want. There is no problem with clearly stating an opinion that you have. There is nothing wrong with advocating for a position you believe in. There is nothing wrong with going after what you want.

But there is also nothing wrong with saying no. There is nothing wrong with plainly disagreeing. There is nothing wrong with opposing views. You can always choose not to participate.

I have learned that I don’t need to get angry when someone asks for what they want. They are free to ask for anything…….and I am just as free to say yes or no without getting an angry response.

Now imagine two people who each have balanced Inner and Outer Strength (or at least are working on it). They might not always agree, they might not choose to do the same things, but they are clear in communicating and they allow each other to be different. They learn the art of compromise. They don’t always have to get their way. They don’t tend to be telling each other what to do. They do, however, share perspectives and learn to understand each other.

What if everyone operated this way?