"I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me."
I read this in a blog years ago and it really resonated with me. This quote epitomises the fight I kept throughout my own journey. When it seems as though we cannot handle our own worlds, our challenging experiences and who we are; when we feel overwhelmed, lost and alone; when the fire of the world is simply too hot and we feel as though we're crumbling in its presence - that's when we need to fuel our fire within. And fuelling that inner fire, gives us the very best chance of surviving.
Discovering this fire shows us our own strength. It gives us something to fight with, the power to give our all, the belief that we have some chance in the face of challenges. It ignites in the form of passions, dreams, self-discovery, a perspective overhaul, changing thought processes, learning about life, learning how to cope and with each and every exploration within, the fire can only burn increasingly brighter.
When facing challenges with our mental health, it can feel like we're burning in our own fire, the fire around us has whirled its smoke within and it's as though it's this fire that we need to fight. But I believe this one is always separate to who we actually are inside. It's an external entity to the real fighter who will inevitably come out as the victor.
Our challenges do not define us, they never permeate the truth of who we are, so we need to keep them detached; this keeps us in a position to conquer them and survive their attempts to take over.
As with everything, we have a choice, in this case, it's which fire to fuel. We can label ourselves as whatever and let the smoke suffocate us or we can choose to fuel our own inner fighter and survive whatever struggle arises.
Shane Koyczan says in his poem 'Instructions for a bad day',
'Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed'
With anything, what we give focus to will grow, so here's how we can feed our own fire and starve the flames of our challenges.
When faced with adversity, our struggle only comes when we believe we cannot overcome it. To me, the oxygen of our own fire is in who we are. Discovering ourselves and the fundamentals of our personal identity gives us the strength of realising our capabilities, talents and personality traits that'll shine through as real power.
This one takes time and requires plenty of introspective exploration but bit by bit it comes together to show us what we're made of. When we're lost and our self esteem is on the floor, we have no idea how much fiery fuel we have dancing within us. Without knowing who we really are, we miss out on our fighting force. But if we give ourselves the chance to become our own best friend and support - no amount of fire around us can blaze through that.
Along the route of figuring out the wonderful mix of what makes us who we are, we stumble upon our beliefs, values and passions. And this is of utmost importance because passion is a force to be reckoned with. Realising what makes us tick allows us to pursue life in a different way. To be able to live in accordance with our values brings an immense freedom with it. To know what we believe in strengthens our minds and voices. To uncover our passions and dreams - that's where shit gets real. This is the stuff that seriously turns up the heat. This is what we need to nourish.
When we realise our own worth and what we care about, we get to finally see clearly what matters to us. For me, fueling my fire meant building it up to the point that I see my own place in the world and how much it means to me to have that place. It's a chance to see the bigger picture, with ourselves included in it. We get to feel our own value running through us. Purpose keeps our fire burning. When we identify that we actually have impact and influence - the fire around is us is going to need to call for back up.
Believing that we're fated to perish in the fire around us is a great way to make that happen. Feeling like we can't do this, we're not good enough, we'll never conquer this - that's all got to be extinguished. Negativity and diminishing our own self worth only feeds the fire of our challenges. Instead of succumbing to the role of victim, we can fuel our own fire by believing in our roles as victors, as triumphant and strong survivors.
NEGATIVE SELF TALK
Critisising our capabilities, harbouring our own fears and just generally being unkind to ourselves quite simply needs to stop. If we want to come out on top, we need to support ourselves in doing so. Treat yourself as a friend and extinguish the self-deprecating and destructive self talk.
GIVING UP ON HOPE
Hope is an incredible force that keeps us protected throughout any surrounding fires. Believing in better, trusting the process and keeping the flame of hope lit will see us through. Even if our hope is a mere spark at the moment, we need to work with it to let it thrive. Survivors do not give up.
The fire within is always there, ven if it's only gently smouldering; there is always light. This is ours to ignite and diligently fuel if we want to.
Yes, the inferno outside may rise and fall at different times, but if we keep our own burning bright, it'll never extinguish our fiery desire and capacity to thrive.