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