We all face adversity in one way or another. Some may have tougher obstacles than others, but regardless of the differences, we all share a universal human connection in the fact that we all must face challenges.
However, it's how we handle those challenges that determines how we move forward through the rest of our lives, says Piero Ferrucci, psychotherapist and author of Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times.
"Our will affects how we relate to others, what ideas we cultivate, what steps we take in our lives ... We need to make sure it's working well, otherwise we're in trouble," he tells The Huffington Post. "We need to build up this inner strength, because without it we may fall victim to circumstances. We risk having our lives run by other people or by chance."
Inner will, or the strength we have within ourselves to push us to new boundaries, is like a muscle that can be developed -- all it takes is a few small exercises, Ferrucci says. Below, find five tips on how to build up your inner strength.
Create a sacred space within yourself.
A strong inner will allows you to deflect many stressful situations so you can make rational decisions, Ferrucci explains. Part of doing that is taking some time to find your center.
"You hear about the importance of finding a sacred space at home, but we also must learn to find a sacred sanctuary in ourselves," he says. "We make better decisions when we're more centered. One way we can do that is learning to breathe. I know it sounds obvious, but it's the simplest thing you can do [to feel balanced]." Ferrucci also suggests meditating or just immersing yourself in silence for a few moments in order to clear your head.
Open yourself up to challenging situations.
By putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we're automatically building up our resilience against the unfamiliar, Ferrucci says. "We should always be finding situations [in] which we can put our strength to good use," he explains. "Take a risk or do something that goes against your habits."
These acts of strength can be anything from making a difficult phone call to trying a new exercise. The point, Ferrucci says, is to do something you otherwise would've naturally postponed because you felt uncomfortable. "Think of a small act of courage you can make and then do it," he suggests. "Taking risks is a way to renew ourselves, break new ground and ultimately expand [our inner strength]."
Recall a time you've been strong in the past.
Did you stand up for yourself in an argument? Did you spearhead an important project at work? Were you a rock for a friend in need? Chances are you've practiced inner strength in multiple aspects of your life, you just need help remembering them in order to cultivate the power to do it again.
"Even people who feel weak and anxious are usually able to find times in which they felt strong," Ferrucci says. "They used their inner power in a certain situation maybe even to their own surprise, and when they remember that, their attitude changes. A lot of us already have inner strength, we just forget that we have it."
Reflect on your good qualities.
We all have insecurities, but it's our good habits that make us stronger without even knowing it, Ferrucci says. Are you a supportive father? A fiercely loyal friend? Do you have a knack for directions? Those are all good qualities. "Make a list of all the things you like and you feel are well-developed about yourself," Ferrucci suggests. "If we don't think about those strengths, we forget about what makes us tough in the first place."
Take a break from distractions.
The benefits to unplugging are seemingly endless, and, according to Ferrucci, a more mindful use of our devices can also help us build inner strength. By unplugging, he explains, we're taking a break from a "low-level addiction" we've developed to our phones. Every time we stray away from our urge to be connected just a little bit longer, we're sharpening our will. "Often our will is weak or absent because we're too distracted," he says. "I'm certainly not against technology, but we can postpone it. We can use that time to breathe and separate ourselves from our messages."
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.