Don’t Believe Anything That Makes You Weak

It always amazes me how a few short words from one person can make such a big impression. Indians (from India), have a reputation for being spiritually wise people. That’s not to say that there aren’t spiritually wise people everywhere and from all races and religions.

A young woman, a Indian student in Italy, wrote this comment for me recently :

“The Fate vs Free-Will is a very tough debate that’s almost always on in my head, I almost always felt as if being mediocre was my fate. Then someone told me ‘Never believe anything that makes you weak.’ After that it’s been much easier to believe that taking charge of my own destiny might actually overwrite what’s already been ‘fated’!!”

Surya Bhattacharya –

Thank you Surya, you are a very wise woman indeed 🙂 Personally I’m not a fate’ist, for similar reasons to those my friend has so eloquently surmised above.


New challenges always seem to greet us when we’re least expecting it. We get comfortable in a comfort zone, then a family member gets ill or one loses one’s job, and so on and so on ad infinitum. Problems and challenges happen, that’s life.

What’s the real issue ? Generally it’s a time when we have to draw on our inner emotional strength in order to pass through the eye of the storm. Sure we can look for our props, the people around us who take care of us, love us, protect us etc.

But my experience is that ultimately one needs to learn to be become strength self-sufficient, or as best as one can. Why ? Sometimes we need to be strong for others, and strong for ourselves at the same time. And more obviously sometimes we are alone without the help of allies, friends and family. Whoever said “it’s lonely at the top”, is partly what they meant.

So what separates then men from the boys and the women from the girls in this respect ? Emotional strength, simply put. Some might call it strength of character, some might call it lucky genetics or whatever. Physical strength (and beauty) is a minuscule factor with most of these challenges. I could sum this up in one sentence – “Is that what a man looks like ?” – Fight Club. Physical strength (and beauty) could even be a hindrance, why ?, because those who are or seem to be strong are more likely to be challenged on it. That gets “old” extremely fast.

Alpha-men and alpha-women for me don’t look like what I see on TV, pretty face, gleaming muscles. Why ? Because those things are relatively meaningless when it comes to the strength to endure, persist and refuse to fall over when the shit hits the fan. Nelson Mandela – did he have a six-pack, bulging biceps, no, I don’t think so – but emotional strength he had a-plenty. What does make the difference is in what we think (and therefore feel). Alpha-men and women in my eyes are ordinary folks, who face the hard times with same spirit and gusto they do for the easy times. Some of these people “make it” and become in the eyes of society extraordinary people. But don’t forget they are still made of the same stuff as the rest of us. They aren’t superior to us or deserve any more respect than anyone else.

The real secret is in what those people think to themselves, and how they interpret what’s occurring. Is it a continual extrapolation into their impending doom and destruction ? Or do they see challenges as opportunities, see change as inevitable and something to try to harness to their advantage ? It’s a rhetorical question as I’m sure you understood.

Within that “the extrapolation of doom” can be useful, draws on prior experience and can prevent one from making the same mistakes over  and over. So a mechanism to be paid attention to, but not to be allowed to become totally dominant. Otherwise we’d make a couple of mistakes or have a couple of problems and then never try *anything* again. Perhaps leading to learnt helplessness, apathy and a negative-fate’ist point of view. A victim of one’s own imagination rather than the wielder of one’s own imagination. So care and caution should be exercised not to use this creative imaginative process to one’s own harm.

Flip side – there is a creative imaginative process I’m calling “the extrapolation of success”. It’s the positive side of the same coin, the creative imaginative positivity-negativity paradox. Again this can be a powerful tool to make us feel better, motivated, and inspired, add whatever positive words you like. But again care and caution using this process is called for. Why ? The expression is “living in cloud-cuckoo land” is well known and widely used. For those not familiar, it means living in a dream not in reality. Others may see it as arrogance or extreme pride – So you could be under attack for your positive thinking !!!

Conclusion – For me it’s simple wisdom that’s easy to understand, which isn’t complicated by layers of bull-shit. Straightforward wisdom for ordinary people. So – “don’t believe anything that makes you weak” or “never believe anything that makes you weak” as my friend Surya said.

Note – It’s up to the individual to learn how to use their internal processes. It can be hinted to by others, but it’s only through the individual’s own awareness and practice that he or she will learn.

🙂 And … For with readers with an extremely short attention span …

For bottom feeders (summary readers)

Be strong mentally and emotionally – change your thinking if you don’t feel you are. Creative imaginative, positive and negative processes can be used helpfully or harmfully. The strong I believe use these processes to aid themselves in being emotionally and mentally fitter and stronger. Hence – “don’t believe anything that makes you weak”

The spiritually wise will pop up from time to time, to remind us of the obvious … so hopefully we don’t continue to f*** it up for ever !

Resources & Sources

Photo of Surya Bhattacharya (c) Surya Bhattacharya
All other photos from morgueFile – thanks morgueFile

Notes for commenters:

Comments are invited. BUT you are reminded that this is a public blog and you are also reminded to think before you press the “post comment” button. 

Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, non-argumentative, constructive and related, or they will be moderated. If you feel you can’t comply, press the “unfollow” button and/or refrain from commenting.

I read ALL comments but can’t always reply. I will comment if I think there’s something that I can add to what you’ve said. I do delete without notice comments that don’t follow rules above. For persistent offenders I will ignore you permanently and/or report you.

Most decent people already know how to behave respectfully. Thank you for your co-operation on the above.

Warm regards, Don Charisma

74 thoughts on “Don’t Believe Anything That Makes You Weak

  1. Hey! I was so pleasantly surprised and flattered and honoured to find this. It took me a while to respond…
    Just before you posted this, my mother was diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer, and within mere hours my life turned from uneventfully (and wonderfully) dull to I don’t even know what. Our family is, obviously, going through a tough time, and I have to keep repeating this quote to myself and to everyone around so we can keep positive and keep fighting. Believe me, it’s helping.
    I didn’t want to kill the mood here, but I felt I needed to share this. This situation is a test to this belief. And so far… Things are good.

    1. You are welcome … I find often I get wisdom when I’m least expecting it, and your words just stuck in my head for some reason – so must be wise !

      You couldn’t kill the mood hun, so don’t worry … and obviously my deepest sympathies to your mother, you and your family.

      It’s good to stay positive and strong, but don’t forget there is always an emotional process we need to go through, especially during very trying times. Strength takes many forms. But I’m sure a lady as wise as you knows this already !

      I don’t really know what else to say, other than please do keep in touch as and when you’re able 🙂

      Warm regards

      Don Charisma

  2. Wanted to thank you for following my blog, but thank you for yours. You are great! Does that make me weak? does it matter? I don’t mind…. see you some more.

  3. …”The spiritually wise will pop up from time to time, to remind us of the obvious … so hopefully we don’t continue to f*** it up for ever !”……Oh, I hope so Don! Thanks

  4. This is an interesting post. I actually read it twice. (Yes I skimmed the first time!) Thank you for sharing these ideas. I think that we can find inspiration in many people. Nelson Mandela was certainly someone to emulate in terms of quiet strength and perseverance.

    1. Hey Chris, thanks, and yes I skim too, it’s a case of time being quite precious most of the time … People like NElson Mandela do inspire us and show us what’s possible … cheers DC

  5. Strength is a choice a person has to make. I was abused as a child and I remember very clearly something my Dad told me once. He had dragged my sister and I out of our bedrooms to watch him beat our mother. He told us that we had to see it because “this is the way real life is.” I could have cowered and accepted his words as my fate, but I’m writing to you from a peaceful home. Even more than that, I’ve forgiven him and today he is a peaceful man who has gotten help for his addictions.

    1. I don’t know your family, or any of the factors, so not my place to comment on the past. Only to say that most of us have experienced brutality, and many of those will have experienced being on the receiving end.

      Certainly, a person has a choice in their actions. Within that a lot of people aren’t aware enough to know that they do have a choice. Is that their fault ? That’s a difficult question, I don’t feel qualified to answer.

      I can only say from my own experience that it takes a lot of self-honesty to get to having a conscious choice about everything I do. So perhaps I’d extend my definition of emotional strength to include self-honesty.

      Warm regards


  6. I need to write this in BIG letters and take it everywhere with me: Don’t Believe Anything That Makes You Weak…So powerful!!

      1. :)…I don’t think I have enough skin. Maybe a big banner. Now that would be a good creative project!

  7. This is a fantastic post. I believe to a certain extent, we create our own destiny. We can create magic and happiness for ourselves. We can live in the fairytale in reality, by making it happen. If you want a horse drawn carriage, you can hire one. If you want to live in a castle, you can build one. If you want to be a princess, you can dress, act, and think like one. Our destiny is in our own hands.

  8. Wonderfully written my friend.
    I believe that who we are now is a product of being forged in the fires of life. We learn and we grow.
    Personally I have been told I am strong. It appears some times as if I am the only one that can see that.
    Becoming the person you can be comes from a combination of life experiences and from how you deal with those experiences. 🙂

      1. Okay, maybe I got the wrong analogy… that’s right …”Women are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to see just how strong they can be”. lol

  9. For myself, inner strength is best demonstrated when we recognize our weakness. Of course, I’m a Bible believer, so when the Apostle Paul wrote, “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10) I take it to heart.
    My mom passed away recently after a 6-year struggle against lymphoma. During this time, I realized I need grace in order to make it from moment to moment without breaking apart (this gift from God is the thing Paul referred to in the aforementioned reference).
    My experiential wisdom: don’t pretend you’re strong when your weakness is the very tool God may use to strengthen another.

  10. I think this is one of my favorite posts I’ve read from you, not being a fatalist myself. Also, for those going through a hard time, it’s good to point out emotional strength doesn’t always mean being a “positive thinker”. As the Cloud-cuckoolanders would have us believe. My husband and I respectively are dealing with physical and mental health challenges. Sometimes emotional strength means acknowledging you’re going through a rough time, or you feel sad or angry or exhausted or whatever, and accepting that and carrying on anyway. Sometimes emotional strength is knowing when to take a time out for self-care. Or sometimes it’s knowing when to put yourself aside for a moment because someone close to you needs the support a little more just then.

    1. LOL when I’m not growling I’m pretty OK 🙂

      Thanks Jenny, that’s very much how I feel about it. Challenges are common for most people, and happy to see you’re facing yours with maturity and common sense. You’re lucky if you are, and have good people around you, a lot of people don’t.

      I’d say individual situations require individual thought. Sometimes we need to push beyond out limits and other times we need to stay well within them. Positive thinking isn’t all about assuming that the outcome will be rosy, for me it’s about looking at the whole picture and looking for the positives and how I can exploit them to enhance my or my loved ones life. Being realistically positive, not cloud-cuckooland postive 🙂

      And yup, time out for self-care almost wrote a post on that one instead, I work far too hard and face a lot of challenges myself!

      Seems like you are on a good path Jenny, and I hope that you’ll succeed at the challenges you and your husband face 🙂

      Warm regards


  11. Inner strength can be so elusive but the journey is worth it! Thank you for a great post. Love your photography. And thank you for following my own blog. Namaste.

  12. Great post. Even though I have a short attention span, I did read the entire post, and it is a message I will remember the next time I’m focusing on what weakens me. I love that I now have a new way to describe myself—a bottom feeder. LOL Thanks for the synopsis for those of us who have a short attention span which also includes forgetting things rather quickly. 😀

    1. LOL, just a little dig at people who just read the summary, perhaps with the aim that they read the entire post … seems to have worked 🙂

      Within that I think you should read what you want to … i often speed read, it saves me time to concentrate on what’s truely important vs what’s not …

      And thanks APril 🙂

      Warm regards


  13. Don: Excellent reflection on finding inner strength — and the best part is that the world is full of inspiration. You just have to be aware of what is around you and be open to it. Also, thank you for your steady support of Bookshelf for the intellectually curious. Always appreciate hearing from loyal readers. Cheers. Alex

  14. I really like this message. I’m so glad that I found your blog through Elaine! Life experience has definitely shown me that overcoming difficult situations makes you stronger– and wiser. You more easily overlook little things, that might have tripped you up in the past, and concentrate more on the big picture, and, most importantly, on doing the right thing–even if it’s the more difficult choice.

  15. Regarding the free will I read a very nice metaphor. Think about your life as a house. You have certain limitations, there are things that are de-terminated and things you can do or even must to do to keep up the good shape of your living environment. That is fate.

    In the same time, we have the free will to act. We can decide about certain things, we can do and cannot to others. The important thing is that, fate as such does not contradict with free will.

    When we think about life, we have to put aside our pedantry. There are no strict borders, things merge and sublimate into each other just as thoughts, emotions and will.

    We have to be strong mentally, emotionally and in our will. I guess.:)

    1. For me fate is one perspective or paradigm and free-will is another. They are just different ways of looking at things. For me free-will puts me in control, which I’d rather be a cause than an effect, so I’m happier that way.

  16. [Never believe anything that makes you weak.] Perfect. There’s a few things I need to stop believing. Have you ever see Second Hand Lions? They had another view on the concept. One of the uncles in the film said to the young man struggling with his perspective and whether or not something was true, “Some things are worth believing whether or not they are true.” I heartily recommend that film if you haven’t seen it.

    1. Not seen it, but sounds like it will go on my want to watch list … And agreed some things are worth believing whether true or not ! … after all what’s true for me isn’t true for the next man, so truth is ultimately subjective and personal … so I believe what I want to, and aim to believe things that will enrich and enhance my life … other’s may say that the things I believe “aren’t true”, could I care ? not that much …

  17. Splendid. The sad realisation for me? Some people do not even have the internal struggles of seeking out emotional intelligence, truth and wisdom. Eish

  18. Great post my Charisma 🙂 I believe that people have to find their own inner strength, you can’t borrow it or fake it (well, not for long anyway!) you have to tap in and find your own and nurture it and share it when and if you choose, but also safe guard it at times…

    1. First time I’ve been called my Charisma, but I quite like it, thanks 🙂

      Agree mostly, however I believe faking it until you make it may just be learning how to use one’s inner strength. So I don’t subscribe to the theory that faking it till you make it is a bad thing … however people who are “Just faking it”, probably not doing themselves any favours 🙂

      And yes, virtue is for the good of my loved ones and friends … enemies and foes it is not for them.

  19. This is a really great and interesting post Don.
    Experience by living learn us a lot, if we are willing to see…..
    We learn to trust ourselves and to see, we are the only ones, that ever can change our lives and realities.
    Surya’s words are absoulut worth to take inside for learning too. Could lead us to more positive experiences.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Really like this post for lots of reasons, Don. For me, the strength, wisdom and encouragement comes from my God. I can’t do it on my own; it’s never a matter of will or determination. I rely on the fact that He is always faithful, always loving, and always filled with grace toward me. As a result, I’ve come to rely on His opinion of me over the opinion of others; it’s much more consistent, steadfast and reliable.

    1. Hey Susan, thank you for your kind words. A Theology PHD/Barman in London once told me I’m a “humanist”. I looked it up on wikipedia, and probably is there or there abouts. I generally prefer to stay out of the political side of politics and religion. I believe people can find enlightenment via virtually any religion …

      I reckon you’re pretty much spot on, for me this would be something like finding one’s own inner strength, inner strength being god – I am not god, that I very much know, but he does exist inside me 🙂

      Warm regards


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