When you think of being strong I’m willing to bet that your mind almost instantly thinks of being strong physically.
Western society, in particular has come to think of strength only as a physical measure almost ignoring mental, emotional, and spiritual strength as well as how to help others become stronger.
Western culture emphasizes and prioritizes individuals and independence and looks down on the importance of vulnerability and community.
This to me is an incomplete way to think about strength.
So What Exactly is “Strength”
Strength is so much more than a weight you lift and extends far beyond physical and aesthetic features.
It’s a lot more than being free of disease, illness, or injuries. Strength requires that you have a “reserve.” It requires that you have a surplus…or more than enough strength in your body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
Strength shows itself in your life when you’re full of energy, peace, and confidence.
Only when you’re strong inside and out will you be able to fully live your dreams, help others, and be truly content.
The Importance of Strength Reserves
Strength in your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional life gives you a reserve for emergencies or those “rainy-days.”
It’s that extra little tank that allows you to withstand those unexpected and unfortunate life events like the loss of a loved one, losing your job, becoming ill, or the end of a relationship. Having strength reserves help you get through just about anything that places a large demand on your emotions, or a surprising and stubborn sickness.
Seneca, the Roman philosopher and statesman (ca. 4 BC–AD 65) said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
If you’re not ready when opportunity comes knocking at your door, then it’s the same as if you never met with opportunity. You have to be prepared.
- Strength is the result of preparation.
- Strength prepares you to seize every opportunity life brings to you.
- Strength allows you to easily overcome life’s setbacks and challenges – emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical.
To be strong inside and out, you must be strong and healthy – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. That’s real strength. The kind you can count on…no matter what.
Integrated Health: Exploring The Four Links That Make You Strong
Dr. Eli Goldratt created the Theory of Constraints and shared it with the world in his book, “The Goal.”
His theory is that regardless of how well any “system” performs, it usually has a minimum of one constraint that compromises (weakens) the entire system’s performance.
Dr. Goldratt’s theory is where the world adopted the maxim that “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
Your “system” has four links or components:
- Mental Strength
- Emotional Strength
- Physical Strength
- Spiritual Strength
Each link either strengthens or weakens the others. Your health and strength are like a chain. Any weak link (emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental), weakens the entire chain…of your health and strength.
If, for instance, you’re weak emotionally, then your emotions can wreak havoc on your health, mental state, and spiritual life. Likewise, your physical health, when compromised, can also cause you to become emotionally depressed, frustrated, and weak.
On a personal level I remember the end of relationships with someone I loved affecting my physical health. I lacked motivation to get in a workout, to prepare healthy meals, and my energy for daily tasks was just not there – It felt like I had no reserves.
Think back to your most-recent illness, major or minor. Let’s say you had “the flu” (or even a head cold). If you’re like most of us, being “under the weather” forced you to quickly shift the majority of your focus to getting well…as soon as possible. And when you’re physically ill, there are countless activities that you can’t enjoy. During those times, it’s often difficult, if not impossible for you to focus on anything else, regardless of its importance or urgency.
Links Responsible for “Your Weight Loss Difficulty”
Your emotions, mental state, and spiritual life can each cause you health problems. This is why some people have such difficulty losing weight, or keeping it off.
Any serious athlete or person committed to fitness would agree that in order to train, stay fit, and do their best physically, that it’s important be strong mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are three examples of how some of “the best” infuse all 4 components of strength:
1. Many athletes bring their spirituality to training and competitions. Why else would so many “Thank God,” family, friends, or teammates or others connected to them, for their victories…at the end of a game?! It’s about giving back…and giving thanks. It’s spiritual. They recognize that the importance of serving a greater purpose than just themselves. That’s spirituality in a nut shell – The way you connect with the world and others in it.
2. The greatest Olympians, coaches, musicians, and artists all know the importance of “getting their head in the game.” It’s about focus. It’s mental. How many times have you heard the expression, “I was just in the zone?”
3. Coaches and trainers are constantly working with their clients, athletes, and professionals to help them “get past” their temporary setbacks, obstacles, or losses. It’s about banishing fear and restoring confidence. It’s emotional. How many times have you seen someone in tears after a victory or loss?
You’ve likely witnessed at least one of the examples above. And, if “the best” men and women “up their games,” spiritually, mentally, and emotionally…shouldn’t you?!
External stress, out of balance emotions, poorly directed focus, and spiritual malnourished can easily derail the most disciplined athlete, professional, man, or woman…even you.
Everything is connected your mind and body are one – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed, Use Synergy
Well, you might be thinking at this point, that “I was already struggling with perhaps one ‘link’ or dimension of your health/strength; there’s no way I can take on more.”
However, you can become strong in all of these areas – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. You can be strong, inside and out.
There is a synergy between each of areas.
For example, when you strengthen your body, by engaging in regular physical activities (exercise, etc.), you automatically enhance your mind’s ability to focus, your positive emotions, and your spiritual well-being.
Keep reading and you’ll find out at least one or two ways for you to strengthen yourself, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. You’ll discover how to begin the life-enhancing journey to being strong, inside and out.
Component #1 – Mental Strength, Your Thoughts
Your mind is brilliant, complex, and extremely powerful.
It can imagine, analyze, and create.
Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines ‘mind’ as “the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills perceives, judges, etc.”
To simplify, let’s consider your mind and mental strength, as your thinking (thoughts)…your ability to focus….including the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind.
One of the overriding messages for you to take away is that all four of your “links” are connected…and that your entire being (chain) is only as strong as your weakest link. This holds true with your mind as well.
If you’re emotionally distraught, then your thoughts (mind) will likely be nothing more than an ocean of negative images, fears, and worries.
Physically, if you’re ill, your mind and thoughts will be constantly preoccupied with your physical state, worrying about whether you’re going to live or die, or simply perhaps how much longer you’re going to be sick.
And spiritually, your mind can be totally distracted because you have a deep and unquenchable thirst to live your life for a greater purpose or at a higher level…yet in your gut, you know that you’re not fulfilling that purpose or living at that level.
The Intuitive Mind
As stated earlier, you have a subconscious mind.
This is the part of your mind that is perhaps more commonly manifested in your intuition or gut feelings. However, if you’re not strong, inside and out, then you’ll ignore your intuition.
Too many people have come to think of intuition as if though it’s something mystical or nonsensical. When, in fact, most people’s intuition comes from the deeper (more intelligent) regions of the mind… to provide you with pithy and poignant insights, revelations, and answers.
Unfortunately, if you’re not strong inside and out, then you might give excess value to your conscious mind (logic and reason), while ignoring your super-intelligent subconscious mind (intuition).
Genius Intuition In Your Subconscious
Many of the world’s greatest geniuses have created some of the most phenomenal and life-changing technologies (and inventions) from their intuition, dreams, and other subconscious insights.
And while you might not be interesting in being the creator of the next revolutionary “big thing,” you can use your intuition to create a strong, meaningful, and fun life for you and those that matter to you. Therefore, it’s important that when you consider your mind, you consider your entire mind – both the reasoning/logical aspect of your mind, and also your subconscious/intuitive mind.
Component #2 – Emotional Strength, Your Feelings
Emotions are essentially a state of consciousness that manifests themselves in the form of physiological states or feelings. That’s a mouthful!
OK, another way to think about emotions is as “reactions” to some sort of real or imagined event, opportunity, threat, person, or object.
All emotions are capable of serving your greatest good. Unfortunately, most people haven’t learned to master their emotions. In fact, most people believe that their emotions are outside of their control. And as a result, most people think of emotions as being bad.
Not Bad, But Within Your Control
It’s important for you to know that emotions aren’t bad…and you can indeed manage and control all of your emotions.
Though, as with all things, mastering your emotions takes some time and some practice. And later in this article, you’ll discover a few suggestions for you to keep your emotions in check…and how to alleviate those undesirable emotions…so that you’re both a healthier and stronger person. But, for now, let’s explore emotions a bit further.
Fear and Love Based Emotions
It has been said that emotions are essentially of two kinds, love-based or fear-based.
Love-based emotions include:
- And many others
Fear-based emotions include:
- And many others
Regardless of whether an emotion is love-based or fear-based; each emotion that you experience results in a chemical reaction in your body and mind.
Most emotional states don’t last very long. Non-stop emotional reactions, especially fear-based, are not terribly harmful to the body, mind, or spirit. When you remain in a prolonged state of fear-based emotion, the physiological changes and chemical reactions begin wreaking havoc on your whole being (all four links). Such is unhealthy and weakening on all levels – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Prolonged stress is a common example of an emotion that literally ruins lives. That’s why stress management has been around for some time…although not enough people embrace it.
To further complicate emotional matters, we live in a society today that exerts pressure on us to ignore or suppress many of our basic human emotions…because they are not politically correct. As a result, instead of managing their emotions in a positive way, many people suppress their feelings with a variety of harmful activities and substances, including:
- Alcohol and tobacco.
- Unhealthy and excessive amounts of food.
- Pharmaceutical drugs.
- Recreational on street drugs.
- And many other vices.
That’s the short list. There are hundreds of negative ways that millions of people suppress their emotions. There are certainly better ways to address, respect, and deal with our emotions.
And, by choosing positive, edifying, and productive emotional outlets like conversation and communication, exercise, art, music, dance, or other personal forms of self-expression that speak to you, you will strengthen your entire being – emotions, body, mind, and spirit.
The conclusion of “How you can build strength inside and out: Mental and Emotional Strength will be released next Sunday. Keep an eye out in your inbox.