How to Have Inner Strength and Courage


How can one overcome an inferiority complex?How can one develop strength in oneself and courage?I read in an article by SK that seeking the good opinion of others is one of the great delusions.How can one overcome this tendency?

—Chandan, India


Dear Chandan,

Your question is a timely one and is something many people experience throughout many lives. Developing inner strength and courage is a lesson for us all. Spiritually in this lesson is the remembrance of who and what we truly are.

Living in thoughts or habits of weakness, or lacking concentration or perseverance is what makes many people miserable in this world. This is what Paramhansa Yogananda lived and taught. In calmness, and in our inner communion with God lies the source of all our power.

In a beautiful book of Yogananda’s writings and words, How to Have Courage, Calmness, and Confidence, he is quoted, “You are paralyzing yourself by thoughts of fear. Success and perfection of mind and body are man’s inherent qualities, because he is made in God’s image.”

By embracing our true self, we can banish false thoughts and feelings of our lesser nature like weakness, insignificance or faint-heartedness. “In order to be able to claim his birthright, however, he must first rid himself of the deluision of his own limitations.”

Become aware of any sense of inferiority and consciously banish it from yourself. Identify instead with what you really are and you can be transformed. Meditate upon courage and the qualities you wish to manifest and they will be strengthened within you.

If others speak one way or another of you, ask yourself this: what does it matter anyway? You know who and what you are. By speaking ill of you, others ultimately put themselves down and encourage you to seek joy and freedom deeper in your own self. By showering praise upon you, they merely affirm the Spirit that shines through your Being. Give the credit, therefore, to Him.

And finally, some practical ways to develop these innate qualities that we all possess are to mix with those of greater strength and awareness themselves. Avoid the company or influence of fear, anxiety, or weakness in any form. Another great teaching of Yogananda is that our environment truly can be greater than even our own will.

Also, practice courage and resolve consciously in all that you do. Even in the smallest ways, stay true to your word and follow through with what is right in your heart. Trample worries and anxieties with your firm resolve to be strong in yourself and adhere to the highest within you.

In these ways will you find that although we all may suffer from feelings of fear, worry, or ignorance at times, we are all really like diamonds shining in the radiance of the sun. Brightly charged with Divine qualities like courage, strength and confidence we may sometimes identify with the seeming darkness of our surroundings or a temporary veil of lesser awareness. But time and time again, the great Saints and Masters of the ages remind us in countless ways – and we remind ourselves, and each other – that we are all children of the one Father, who watches over us, protects us, and infuses us with his consciousness eternally.

The more we open ourselves to that highest awareness are we able to then affirm and live the qualities of steadfast courage and inner strength on the spiritual path and throughout our lives. God bless you.