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Exercising Our Psychological Strength
Articles
  by Roy Posner  



Overcoming Psychological Weakness

If we look back on our lives, and consider our most difficult moments, we will see that psychological weakness was often at the center of the problem. Consider for a moment several ways that we might express such weakness:

  • A business executive is afraid to stand up to an abusive partner.
  • A wife is afraid to speak up, fearing the wrath of her husband.
  • A parent has no control over his or her children.
  • A business owner does not make the effort to collect money due, fearful that he might lose the customer's future business.
  • An overbearing boss abuses a shrinking subordinate.
  • A child is unable to stand up to a bully in the playground

Our inability to exercise our psychological strength is one of the great human failings of life. It not only leads to ongoing difficulties, but can also lead to tragedy. For example, we know that the nations of Europe could not muster the strength to stand up to fascism when it was on the rise before World War II, leading to the death of over sixty million people. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, we see how the prince could not marshal the strength to act, even though he knew the identity of his father's killer. As a result, he, and those he loved, paid the ultimate price.

In a similar fashion, we too have paid the price along the way because of our inability to be strong. If we think back on our lives, we can probably recall at least one instance where we felt helpless, vulnerable, and powerless; or otherwise did not have the strength to meet life's circumstances and conditions. As a result, we suffered, and, sometimes, others suffered as well.

 
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Hopefully, we have learned from such experiences, and now exhibit the toughness, courage, and fortitude to stand up to life. If not, then we are likely to repeat the same mistakes, even if they express in new forms. For example, if in the past you did not have the strength to stand up to an abusive boss, today you will be under the thumb of an abusive spouse or relative.

One particularly interesting observation I have had along the way is that the very best of people -- i.e. those who are pleasant, considerate, generous, and self-giving -- are sometimes those who suffer the most. That is the case because they have never developed the necessary inner strength to cope with the pressures and vicissitudes of life. Though their kindness, sympathy, and benevolence have created conditions for fulfillment and success, their psychological weakness has created openings for difficulty, pain, and suffering.

Perhaps you have watched an old gangster film where the mother of a criminal cowers before her son and his violent behavior. On the one hand, we watch in sympathy as the loving parent showers him with love and affection, while, on the other, we recoil at her inability to stand up to her child's ruthless behavior. In this way, we see that even selflessness, self-givingness, and unconditional love cannot stand up to meanness, cruelty, and brutality when inner strength and toughness are missing. Recall that even Jesus Christ himself -- who represented ultimate Goodness and offered the world unconditional Love -- lacked the strength and power to overcome those who sought to destroy him.

Fortunately, that does not have to be our fate, for each of us have the capacity to overcome psychological weakness and replace it with inner strength. If we understand the variety of ways we have expressed our helplessness, powerlessness, and vulnerability in the past, and then take steps to reverse ourselves in the present, we will attract positive conditions from life. Consider this true incident:

A software company in California arranged with an agency to build a prototype program for a third, much larger company. The firm worked for months on the model, but foolishly never agreed to compensation, fearing that by raising the issue, they would jeopardize losing their long-term involvement in the project. After much hand wringing, the owner finally mustered the strength to discuss compensation with the agent. When he did so, not only did he resolve the future status of the project, but an excruciating six-month neck pain suddenly disappeared!


Standing up to a Partner

Over the years, I have been privy to a number of instances of "life response" that came as a result of shifting from psychological weakness to strength. These crossed a wide spectrum of human activity -- from the sports world, to the world of politics and business.

For example, a friend of ours who runs a $17 million chain of retail stores had a partner who was difficult, outspoken, and crude. Though our friend was conscientious and good willed, he lacked inner toughness. One day he realized that what he himself lacked, the partner had in spades -- strength. And so he began to examine his attitudes, and then made the commitment to overcome his weakness. In fact, the very first action he took was to stand up to his partner! Not only did the partner immediately stop his offensive behavior, but he began to cower before our once-weak friend! In addition, a flood of good news began occurring in the company!



Decision of Strength Attracts Love in 'The Apartment'

When we move from psychological weakness to strength, we tend to attract sudden good fortune. Sometimes the response from life comes from the most unlikely places -- including the sudden arrival of a romantic partner. Here is one example from the world of film that reflects this phenomenon.

In the 1960s film 'The Apartment,' C. C. Baxter is a lonely office drone working for an insurance company in New York City. As it turns, four different company managers take turns commandeering his apartment for the purpose of engaging in extramarital liaisons. Unhappy with the situation, but unwilling to challenge them directly, Baxter juggles their conflicting demands while hoping to catch the eye of fetching elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik. Meanwhile his neighbors, a medical doctor and his wife, assume Baxter is a "good time Charlie" who gets a different woman drunk every night. Baxter accepts their criticism rather than reveal the truth.

One day, he meets with personnel director Mr. Sheldrake, who has gotten wind of this situation. However, rather than denounce it, he asks Baxter for the key so he can be the fifth user of his apartment! As a result, Baxter gets a promotion with his own office. Sometime later, Baxter realizes that Sheldrake is carrying on with Fran, the woman he loves, using his apartment to continue their affair.  He also knows that Fran is being used by Sheldrake, for he will never divorce his wife and marry her, which is a pattern he has followed with a number of previous female victims.

One day, Fran takes an overdose of pills at Baxter's apartment after a rendezvous with Sheldrake, who she realizes will never commit to her. As a result, Baxter frantically seeks out the doctor living next door, and the two of them resuscitate Fran. Even after she is returned to full health, Fran still cannot give up her love for Sheldrake. Feeling humiliated, Baxter now realizes that winning over Fran is a hopeless case.

By the author of this article, Roy Posner
 
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After this near suicide, Sheldrake callously asks Baxter for the key to his apartment so he can once again meet with Fran. However, this time -- despite now having been raised to a high-level position -- Baxter asserts himself by refusing. Even though he knows he will be fired, he exercises his strength and walks out on Sheldrake and, therefore, his job. A while later, he offers to pay the doctor for the services rendered for saving Fran, which is a small but powerful act of generosity. Finally, Baxter decides to give up his own apartment that has been royally abused.

Resigned to celebrate New Year's Eve by himself, Baxter opens a bottle of champagne, but then hears a knock on the door. It is Fran, who tells him that she has left Sheldrake, though she holds back from revealing that she learned that Baxter had stood up to him and left the company. Baxter then invites her in, and they play cards together as they have done in the past, resuming their friendship. Baxter then confesses his love for her, and Fran in her own way reciprocates those feelings.

What is the inner message here? It is this: because Baxter overcame his usual weakness and stood strong against his hypocritical and abusive boss, life responded with the sudden appearance of Fran from out of nowhere, igniting their romance, and fulfilling his deepest aspiration in life.

In life, we are often confronted by crossroad decisions that will test our level of psychological strength. When we make the right choice, we can suddenly attract sudden good fortune from the most unexpected areas of our life. In Baxter's case, he chose strength over weakness, attracted the woman of his dreams.

Example Expressions of Psychological Weakness

  • Lacks strength

  • Lacks fortitude

  • Lacks toughness

  • Lacks courage

  • Lacks resiliency

  • Lacks conviction

  • Lacks will & determination

  • Feels helpless, powerless

  • Is in a weak position

  • Has no sense of control

  • Is overly deferential

  • Is easily swayed

  • Is dependent on others

  • Doesn't know what to do

  • Is incapable of acting

  • Is indecisive

  • Is shrinking, cowering

  • Is fearful

  • Is timid, shy

  • Lacks self-esteem

  • Lacks focus, direction

  • Cannot deal with problems

  • Has no power

  • Is uninformed, gullible, naive

  • Accepts abuse

  • Has no energy

  • Shirks responsibility

  • Procrastinates


Self Analysis

Think about several areas of your life where you have been psychologically weak. Then come up with a plan to overcome that behavior in specific instances or circumstance in your life.  If you make a sincere effort, you are bound to elicit powerful positive response from your surroundings
 

 For additional Growth Online thoughts on the power of psychological strength, click here.


RELATED TOPICS:

  • To learn about the miraculous phenomenon of "life response," click here.

  • To learn about the importance of making the tough decisions, click here

  • To learn about the importance of making the right cross-road decisions, click here


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