Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times by Pierro Ferrucci

The task of self-mastery is arduous, but noble and fruitful.

pierro fThe book ‘Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times’ by Pierro Ferrucci, philosopher and psychotherapist, is a deeply considered and pragmatic book. It’s grounded in both the authors experience and learnings’ as a therapist and supported by neuroscience research. Each chapter places a spotlight on the traits necessary to the cultivation of our “Will”, which is like the marrow in the bones of one’s life. Willpower is described as our capacity to endure, persevere and not give up in the face of adversity. Ferrucci says our “Will” is a “survival tool.”  It may be tested in different settings throughout our lives…a job search, a relationship, travelling alone, making decisions that alter the course of our lives. It is a certainty that we will all face situations whereby we have a choice to either cultivate or undermine our “Will”. Different traits are highlighted in each chapter…Resilience, Mastery, Autonomy, and each chapter is introduced with a fable or myth, that captures the heart of each particular trait. Engaging the old wisdom of these stories, Ferrucci goes on to highlight the essence and necessity of these traits in a psychologically healthy and happy life.
Each chagandipter ends with practical activities to deepen our experience of that particular trait. For example in the chapter Autonomy, Ferrucci discusses the importance of self-determination and exposes the danger of delegating responsibility to others for decisions about our lives. The particular activity at the end of the Autonomy chapter requires us to list what we like and value, what our strengths are where we want to invest our energy. In doing this we are encouraged to make conscious that which we may be unaware of and to proactively call forward and strengthen the trait. Like the fables we are encouraged to ‘own’ our choices and live vibrant lives in alignment with our values. We are asked to deliberately nurture these traits.

The will is for everybody…if we don’t have it we can generate it.

The author highlights the challenges we face in an overstimulated society where superficiality is often revered in the media. The danger of being seduced by this superficial path is that we forget to value and foster traits necessary to live a thoughtful and meaningful life.

If we are missing out on the essential quality of courage, every aspect of our life suffers.

His discussion on the power of attention was interesting. Often ‘attention’ is highlighted in relation toward developing or cultivating a trait. Ferrucci does too, but he also states how powerful it is to withdraw attention. The power of ignoring. This can help deprive repetitive and negative thoughts and impulses.  To ignore is to take the ‘life’ from them, thereby reducing our suffering.
‘Willpower-How to find Strength in Critical Times’ is an important and accessible book. Its poetically written so in no way dry or ‘scientific.’ I found it to be an intelligent, deeply useful and authentic book.



Courage and the Car Accelerator

Driving on the motorway, years ago, my frustrated brother asked if I always drove “Like this.” “Like what?” I asked. “Well, you press the accelerator and we speed up and then you lift your foot off and we slow down…over and over.” Unaware of this pattern I laughed, partly because the moment required it and mostly because it was (and can be) my approach to life. Courageously moving into the world and then withdrawing into an inlet; risk adverse, protective and immobile. My driving style had inadvertently captured both my potential and said in good humour, my pathology.

What in your life reflects your courageousness? Make a list. And where in your life are you fearful, risk adverse and low in the courage stakes? It’s good to know this about yourself.

Courage is a truly beautiful, noble and essential human trait. It creates positive change within us and inspires others. Courage, or the lack of it, activates two different parts of the brain, so it’s wise to practise and learn the art of courage for wellbeing and personal growth. Like all things, courage sits on a spectrum- we don’t need to jump into burning buildings but we can take small steps. To do nothing, can be to atrophy this noble trait.


So, if you’re prone at times, like me, to being risk adverse and not acting on your own behalf, here’s some things we might do to nurture courage.

Breath, not that shallow fearful breath in our upper body, but breathing with intention into the belly. An abundant type of breath that says ‘I can do this.’

-Practise gradual courage. Small steps. If the metaphor is a marathon, start with walking and then 20 minute runs three times a week.

Support yourself-We are our own harshest critics. Tell yourself you’re doing well, you can do it, it’s going to be ok or even great. Over and over.

Recall times when you were courageous. This is powerful. Find a memory and recall it. Feel it in your body. Feel the strength in your legs, spine, and voice. Use that feeling to propel you into the next act of courage rather than into aversion and avoiding.

Ask for support-nobody said you had to do this alone.

We get better at things by doing them. So, if your foot is steady on the accelerator, well done. If your style is start, stop-well done too because you know it and can do something about it if you desire. If your foot hasn’t quite made it to the accelerator, you instinctively know where it is and how it works. Be courageous. You can do it.

by Ana