Becoming The Strongest Version of Yourself is all about evolution.
For evolution to take place, something has to be left behind.
For you and I to grow stronger, we have to practice courage in leaving behind older, weaker (or no longer resourceful) versions of ourselves.
This process of (ego) self destruction is essential in order for us to be reborn as a newly integrated self; or a stronger version of ourselves.
This blog post is a “mirror post”, as it is mirroring my most recently posted YouTube video (below).
It is my intention with these mirror posts to provide you with clarification, further perspective and resources related to the YouTube video.
Just like how the muscles grows stronger by the deliberate breakdown of tissue in order that the muscle may be repaired and prepared for greater loads, so too must our character (thoughts, habits, psychology, soul) be broken down in order that we are more prepared to handle the increasing pressures of leading an abundant and generative life.
We must literally die to who we are, in order that we may be reborn / risen as a stronger version of ourselves.
In the video I relate how this process of character breakdown has been describe as “Katabasis” in the following passage from Iron John by Robert Bly.
So either we are conscious of a needing to experience Katabasis, and willingly take steps to humble ourselves in order to allow the initiatory process to take hold; or we are unconsciously driven mad until, usually a catastrophe occurs and… we wake up from our slumber (or ignore-ace).
In my life I have experienced both.
On one hand I am highly aware of the movement and voice within my body, mind and soul. I am sensitive and attuned to the “feeling” of myself and experiences. In most circumstances I allow myself to be guided by these “heart and gut” intuitions.
But I am also heard-headed.
If my ego (our interface with the world of matter) is resistant to my soul’s hearkening, I seem to reenact a pattern of physical injury. Thus, forcing me to take deliberate action against my former self, so that room may be created for the gestation, growth and rise of a newer, more resourceful, version of myself (or ego construct).
Jungian psychoanalysis call this achievement “integration”.
This is where we let go, and allow conscious awareness to be shed upon what’s lurking in the shadows. Down in this “shadowy place” we can begin to look at things we may have not been willing to explore for perhaps decades.
Joseph Campbell describes this process of confronting our shadows, so they may be resolved and integrated in our being, as “eating your shadows”. We reclaim our power by this process of self love, honesty and integration. [click here for a video where I talk about eating your shadows]
No part of you shall be left behind.
In mythology this is symbolized by the burning and rising of the Phoenix.
In Christianity this is symbolized by the death and resurrection of Christ.
In the science of Biology, this can be seen in cell division or mitosis.
Human beings are “open systems” designed to not only withstand increasing entropy (stress), but through it we may experience a “spontaneous Self reorganization into an entirely new order”– according to late physicist Ilya Prigogine.
Here is a video series title Katabasis [click here] I created while taking deliberate downward action directly after tearing my biceps for the second time.
“Every Wound Is A Womb”
In the video I also share the resourceful re-framing concept of an injury (to body or soul), given by Robert Bly in Iron John.
We can choose to see our injury as an opening where we can be penetrated (like a vagina) and a new self conception can grow from within (like a womb); thus allowing you to be reborn as a stronger and more integrated version of yourself.[This process requires a feminine energy approach of yielding, allowing and softening to the process. Click here for a video where I talk about integrating feminine energy]
My experience with and self reflections on this process can be seen in my 2010 blog post [click here to read post], as well as in my first self published ebook The Manifesto Of Strength [click here to download], which relates my relationship to my ever evolving Self.
What we are trying to understand is…. breakdown and build up, or death and resurrection is not only 100% natural, it is also an essential part of becoming all that you are meant to be.
The idea of this process first came to my while reading the worlds of Abdul Bah’a (A Central Figure in The Bahai Faith), many years before YouTube. For example these words describing the nature of “test and difficulties” in our lives:
The last line is my favorite, “The same test comes again in greater degree, until it is how that a former weakness has become a strength, and the power to over come has been established.”
We don’t merely learn how to accept and cope with our weaknesses (sinfulness), it is actually intended for the former weakness… to become a strength!
It is through our injuries and inadequacies that we discover our true power.
Here is another writing where Abdul Bah’a relates our character and soul’s evolution to the purification of gold.
“The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes . . . The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties… Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows”. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41.)
The worlds of Abdul Bah’a and my experience with The Baha’i Faith are evident in many of my most popular “Life Mastery” YouTube videos, including this powerful speech I gave some time in 2014.
One of my truths left in the shadow for many years has been my attraction and adherence to The Bahai Faith. If you don’t know that I am Bahai, its probably because I chose not to speak about it, and in some ways distance myself from it during most of my recent formative years (ages 25-35). But while down, in the low and watery places, I have been able to rekindle my connection to what I believe is a healing message, an opportunity to unify all of mankind, the elimination of prejudice in all its insidious forms.
I will talk more about the Bahai Faith perhaps at a later time, but if you are genuinely interested please apply to join my private Facebook Group “The Light Of Unity” for related conversation. All are welcome, all I ask is please be respectful of the opinions, beliefs, ideas and choices of others within the group.
Finally, in the mirrored video I also aim to offer perspective on who and what Elliott Hulse has become through this experience and process.
Amongst the many new things I’ve discovered in the last 12-24 months is what it truly takes for me to be a leader, lover, father and friend; which can be summed up in the following statement by Lao Tzu:
This sentiment is embodied in a newly-felt humility that has given Yo Elliott permission to not be the only bright shining star in the sky.
This sentiment means knowing that although Elliott built Strength Camp from the ground up; Elliott became a professional strongman; Elliott became YouTube famous; Elliott etc, etc, etc….
Elliott’s best work is found in empowering others.
In giving other people room to shine.
In giving others the power to succeed.
In giving others all of the love, wisdom, attention and support they need to get the job done, be strongest version of themselves and say…. “we did it ourselves”.
I pray that you become all that you know that you can be, and as you expand, evolve and grow stronger… you can pay it forward and empower those in your world.
Keep shining your light.