…makes us stronger.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this aphorism. There is no question it can seem discounting of the real difficulties we face in life and trivialize them with a touch of condescension; but, there is in fact powerful truth integrated into this familiar saying.
There is a universal law, the Law of Opposition, which says two things: “That which we oppose, we strengthen, and whatever is opposing us can also strengthen us” (Halaway, 2017, p. 12). Universal laws are unchangeable and work whether we know about them or not. Knowing about them allows to act from a place of power rather than to be acted upon.
The Law of Opposition resonates as truth to me, because my life experiences have undeniably proven it time and again. I have learned that when I oppose something or resist it, I am indeed left drained. It is truth that when we put our energy into opposing something, it actually strengthens the very thing we are opposing and weakens us. Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up against things that are damaging or toxic, but when we push against them, we are actually not going to get the results we are hoping for. It is more about standing in our own truth and strength, without giving all of our energy to opposition or resistance. Energy is expended through our focus, our time, and our effort. We are far better served by focusing our energy on how we can change, let go, and grow in a way to bring light into dark places. The way we bring light into dark places is by focusing our efforts on expanding the light, not by opposing the dark.
The second part of the Law of Opposition has been the most profound for me over the past few years. As I experienced difficult things on my life-journey, people and experiences that felt like they were doing everything in their power to destroy me—oppose me and my growth—I felt weak and hopeless on more than one occasion. I compare this to the times at the gym when I’m increasing weights during my lifting practice. When I lift the heavier weights I feel weak, and thoughts of, “you can’t do this,” get louder in my mind. Ironically though, this is where and how I’m gaining my strength. It is indeed true that those things that are opposing us can be the very things that help strengthen us…if we choose. In our book, Victim to Victor, one particular photograph and caption story entitled “Holding” represents just this:
“I progressed against all odds, because of my own strength and because you actually provided the resistance I needed for this growth. I became in spite of you, and in some ways because of you.”
These words are based on experience. They are our truth. And they align with the key truth found in the Law of Opposition: whatever is opposing us can also strengthen us.
So bring it on…
We can choose to take the opposition and use it to find our strength, our voice, and our purpose. We can choose to focus our energy on our growth, not on resistance. We accept and we act. We become…
Much thanks to one of my dear mentors, Dale Halaway, for all he has taught me in relation to this and for the invaluable truths found in his book referenced in this post:
Halaway, D. (2017). Being called to change. Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press.