Where do you go when you want answers? Answers to such questions as what is right or wrong, how am I looking, how am I performing, what is good or bad, even what is moral versus immoral, am I on the right track, will God hate me if I do this or that? What if you could source answers from within? Must someone else validate our opinions? It is normal to feel comforted with external affirmations. We feel reassured when others confirm our own beliefs. But it need not be this way. If you want and if you are willing to work towards it, you can transcend others’ opinions and affirmations. And what does working towards it entail, you may ask? There are two things that will lead you to that exalted state, first, self-contemplation, and two, inner strength.
Self-contemplation is the art of understanding yourself better, it is knowing why and how you do whatever you do. We all have motivations behind our actions, most of the time that motivation lives in the subconscious. Self-contemplation helps you bring it to the forefront. In the words of Ralph Ellison:
All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself.
Who can know you better than you? You alone know your innermost thoughts, your actions, your intentions. The more you understand yourself, the closer you get to your primordial source of strength and divinity. No doubt it requires a certain degree of inner strength and that leads to the second attribute. Read on.
The sole purpose of my writings is to help you better understand yourself, transform yourself, be yourself. It is all about you that I am concerned with. What do you need to do in order to build that impeccable and undying inner strength? There are pages and pages of my own words I could write on it, hundreds of verses I could quote from various religious texts, instead, I am choosing to share with you a poem by the famous British writer and poet, Rudyard Kipling. The poem is aptly titled If.
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!
Living a mindful life, whenever you are gripped by anger, paranoia, insecurity, at that moment, if you can remind yourself of the promises you made to yourself, if you can focus on the code of conduct you have set for yourself, you are well on your way to be a superman (or superwoman) of your inner world. Without having to do hours and hours of meditation, without the support of some grand theory, without subjugation to any religious authority, you would gain exceptional freedom of thought. You will become independent. Independent of their opinions, affirmations, treatment, conduct.
Independent, it means you are only Dependent on what is In you. This is freedom.