Making myself stronger

Monday January 18, 2021

[To view a video version of this blog post please click here: https://youtu.be/irGeXJYEWDA]

I wanted to talk today about the giant gulf between “should” and “could”.

One is mostly disempowering; one is sometimes empowering.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

I disagree.

I believe that each problem (“That which does not kills us...”) faced up to and challenged, “…makes us stronger.”

Let me repeat a personal story that some of you have heard.

I was bullied as a child, as many of you know. On my way back from my Secondary School, every single day, a group of boys, older and further up in the school, had money enough to own bicycles – giving them a sense of freedom. They used to cycle like wild Indians around me, spitting on me, and kicking me in the happy sacks.

You can imagine how much I looked forward to the journey home from school each day.

What “should” have happened (in the Perfect World) was that, as if by magic, Mr Miyagi “should” have jumped down beside me to teach me Karate. After training, I would have been ready to dispatch them all, teaching a life lesson!

I did have a rescuer, a heroine, my Mother. I finally confessed my terror to her, and she took action. A very glamorous woman, she donned a headscarf and dark glasses, like a Movie Star, and walking our golden Labrador, Kerry, she watched from afar.

When the felons struck, she moved like lightning, and struck them down… at least with her tongue. Their parents got some “feedback” too.

The problem was removed… except it wasn’t. It was a pivotal moment in my life because I learned to stay a coward rather than be courageous. Both cowardice and courage can flow from an identical place of feeling terrified, but the outcomes are drastically different.

The Karate Kid learned to stand up for himself – and others.

Until we learn to stand up to the bullies, we will always remain subject to fear.

We will not become stronger.

I believe that not standing up to the bullies led to a massively critical, bitter spirit, and a view that the world ‘should’ be different. I still look at behaviours and situations in the world that I do not think ‘should’ be that way and judge those involved.

There’s an alternative I’m exploring: “could.” Now, I’m beginning to acknowledge that things “should” not be a certain way, but I ask myself, “What could I do about this?” If the answer is, “Nothing,” I seek to give it no more attention. If there is something I “could” do, I seek to do it. This is standing up to the problem, it’s empowering, and it makes me stronger (even when I don’t succeed!) It’s the act of facing the fear and having a go anyway. It is courage.

From “should” to “could” makes a world of difference. There is a gulf between “should” and “could” and a courageous decision to take action is the bridge.

A Moodscope member.

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