Strength. What is it?
Where do we find it? Where does it come from?
Strength is not power. Although strength brings power, it is not the same as power. Power is something on the outside. Strength is something on the inside.
I think strength comes from courage. Where do we find courage?
Ukraine is demonstrating the interrelationship of strength and courage. We’re not always successful, sometimes the power brought against us is too powerful. But we stand and fight each step of the way because we have courage which brings us strength.
Fear makes us draw back, we want to flee. Grief empties us, we collapse in and lose our motivation. Anger counters these weaker emotions. Anger makes us feel strong and powerful, we don’t feel afraid, we don’t feel grief – we feel only anger when anger is there.
But anger is not strength. Anger is only a shifting emotion of the moment. Strength is what remains when the anger leaves and the fear and grief return in the quiet time. Where does strength come from?
Many times strength is simply the will to endure until time moves this-time on.
When I was in the 4th grade, we were forced to memorize a poem. Everything about school to me begins with, “We were forced to…” I didn’t like school and I tried to disregard it as much as possible.
Of all the education I received K through 12, memorizing a poem in the 4th grade is the only information I received from them of value – If by Rudyard Kipling.
I learned their History and Science, their Math and English, to their testing satisfaction. I diagrammed their sentence structures and solved their quadratic equations. They forced me to do it, so I did it.
But when I think back on all the things they made me do from K to 12, memorizing If by Kipling is the only thing they forced me to do that has been of value.
We had to recite the poem in front of the class – public humiliation if we failed the memorization task. I did it, I memorized their poem. Over-and-over I repeated it to myself, memorizing each line to the next.
I ingrained each line into the fabric of my memory. They put it in me. This has been of value. Nigh on the only thing of value they gave me from my years spent with them was forcing me to memorize If by Rudyard Kipling in the 4th grade.
What is strength? Where does it come from, how do we find it?
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
What is Strength? As a young man, I’d go to the gym to work out. In lifting weights I’d build strength by commitment, simply putting in the time – even when I didn’t want to, especially when I didn’t want to. Just do it.
It’s not hard. You just have to do it. It doesn’t matter what we think. It doesn’t matter what we feel or want. The only thing that matters is what we do.
Like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, we find our character in our adversity and challenge, but it’s out there we find it. It was with us the entire time, the context just called our character forth from us.
You each fight your battles alone. That’s what the pathology wants you to believe. They lie about you. No one believes you. No one cares. No one is coming. You’re alone.
That’s the experience of that abused child so many years ago – alone – no on sees – no one cares – no one is coming.
It’s true, you are alone – but you’re not. That’s a lie. You’re not alone. We see. We know. We’re coming. This is a pathology of lies. It had you trapped. Not anymore.
You have your voice, you have your path. We are changing everything because everything needs to change. It’s both a systems failure as well as the negligent professional failures of the psychologists. We’re fixing both.
The pathogen triggers your fears. The pathogen surrounds you with lies to disorient you, you’re constantly having to prove reality. No you don’t. That’s a lie.
You just need the mental health people to do their job. The “forensic” psychologists are failing you, your children, and the court.
Strength. What is it? Where does it come from, how do we find it?
You’re right. Your reality is right. They are wrong. They are immensely ignorant and negligently incompetent. You’re right. They are wrong.
You know that. I know that. They are powerful. So are we, when we find our strength. Don’t surrender to the chaos it tries to create, don’t be reactive.
Don’t dance to the pathogen’s music of chaos de jour – find the longer lines that will be productive, that move to a purpose and goal.
I think strength comes from courage. Where does courage come from?
I dunno. Maybe ask a lion where courage comes from.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA PSY 18857