So we’ve had these quotes up on our wall for about two years now. Though I did not purchase them, I thought they were encouraging and would serve as great visual reminders on the wall. Today, while re-reading over one of them, my Critical Cap came on. I didn’t notice this right away, since I normally am pretty critical of most things (it’s an automatic response that I’m working on). Here is the first quote:
I read it and I realized this definition did not sit well with me. It sounded very dark, with strong verbs and adjectives with negative connotations (at least to me) like “dark”, “banish”, “wrestle”, “demons”. I couldn’t help but respond rhetorically “This is not inspiring. It’s telling me to do everything that is simply a response of ignorance and elimination! Instead of accepting my pain and dark parts of myself, this definition wants me to banish and wrestle them.” Yes, this definition of strength asks us to banish the darks parts through illumination, but one does not simply just illuminate and forgive. Before we can forgive, we must accept. I mean, I know it’s a wall decoration, but this is also a definition of a word that often characterizes many people and their responses to tough situations. I have always thought of myself as a strong person, but never imagined it would involve fighting and banishing, and using pain as fuel.
One of the main teachings of Thich Naht Hanh is that in order to deal with tough situations mindfully, we must take the past of least suffering, which is actually through acceptance rather than resistance. In other words, strength cannot be defined as how hard you can push away or fight through your pain and suffering, but how much of it you’re willing to accept the pain, let it in, and be at peace with its existence. By accepting things or situations that have hurt us, only then can we move to the stage of forgiveness (actually one could argue there are many phases), so that we can then determine our strength. Though this quote will probably stay on our wall (it belonged to my boyfriend), I am okay with this because now I have actually defined my own terms for what strength actually means.
I then read the other quote on the wall next to the Strength definition. I think this sums up a way to live mindfully pretty well.
How do you define Strength? Do you agree or disagree with the definition in the quote, or with mine? What times have challenged you and how have you dealt with them? Who or what has helped you remain strong?
I found this picture when scrolling through my phone today. I forgot I took it but instantly remembered why I did once I re-discovered it. I love asiatic lilies and seeing them reminds me of their smell and how beautiful they are. Something that definitely provides me strength in tough times is being reminded how beautiful natural life really is, like this lily.
Happy Monday y’all!