A unified will is the key to power. When all parts of ourselves are aligned and on board we can decisively move in the direction of our goals. Getting to that place of inner clarity though is no small feat. Internal conflicts are among our toughest battles.
We all live with multiple priorities and conflicting values. Usually we are very aware of the “appropriate” part of our will that wants what seems best—to lose weight, for example. But there is another part of us, motivated by forces more hidden, that wants to eat cookies and doughnuts. It’s fascinating that we genuinely want both. We want to lose weight. And we want to eat sweets. We want what is “good,” and we want what is “bad.”
What we don’t want is the frustration of trying to reconcile those two opposing forces within. As a result of the conflict we get mired in the doldrums, stuck in our efforts.
The doldrums are an apt metaphor here. The technical name for the doldrums is the Intertropical Convergence Zone. It’s an area near the equator where opposing winds converge, ironically creating a monotonous windless zone. Calm periods in the zone could strand ships for days or weeks when wind was the only power source.
It is much the same with our internal conflicts. We start feeling dependent on something external such as an external event, person, or circumstance to power our ship and get us moving. If only this person would change then I could change too! If only work wasn’t so stressful, I would eat fewer cupcakes! If only my business partner would show up a little differently, I could get so much done!
Wanting an external solution to an internal conflict is just a distraction at best. At worst we are thrown completely off course, not arriving in Greece as planned, rather approaching the shores of an uninhabited island filled with mosquitoes.
The problem is not the ship, our traveling companions, the weather, or the stock market. The problem is the internal crosswinds keeping us from wholeheartedness. Wholeheartedness is the shore of our own integrity, the part of us that can hold all the paradox and yet fully commit to a way forward.
Holding the internal conflicts, the yes and the no, the want and the don’t want, the like and the don’t like provides a strange internal power. The ability to hold the sticky sensation of wanting vastly different things increases our capacity to meet life on its own terms, not as a victim of fate (external forces), but as a co-creator with genuine choice. This increased capacity to hold all of life, to feel everything and yet stay the chosen course, is power.
How do we get a unified will? One of the best and least known ways of unifying our will is to combine radical acceptance with genuine celebration and delight. For our weight loss example, it might sound something like this:
I really want and need to lose weight. I truly and genuinely love how I feel when I’m lighter. And wow, I really want pasta and cookies and muffins right now! Ugh, I hate this feeling. I hate feeling deprived and frustrated. I just want what I want! I want to lose weight and I want to eat cookies!
Wow, I guess there is a part of me that really enjoys not losing weight. It makes me feel free to eat whatever I want without worrying about it. I like that sensation too!
I am so vast and epic on the inside I can enjoy all of this. I enjoy the freedom of weight loss and I enjoy the freedom of overeating! I can even enjoy the frustration of all this energy inside me. I am so very human and so very alive. Wow!
All parts of me belong. It’s all beautiful and human and so very real to feel all of this. So, what action do I want to take now?
I think I want to lose weight and choose not to eat sweets. I know I will want cupcakes and cookies and that’s ok. I am willing to want them, but not have them. I am willing to feel the sensation of wanting something I can’t have because there is something else I want even more. Yes, I want to lose weight, but more than anything else I want to know my own power as a creator of my own life. I have lots of choices. I’m going to choose this weight loss path and let go of my other options. The part of me that wants cupcakes is rolling her eyes. Oh, she is so cute!
(Can you feel the release of energy and sense of power just reading that?!)
The only thing the diverse parts of us genuinely want is to belong. They want to feel empowered too. Every part can be met with radical acceptance, no judgment, and a seat at the table. It doesn’t mean that each part has equal weight, it simply means each part is heard and valued. This is radical acceptance.
The masterful next step though is an actual celebration of the parts which want what seems unacceptable and “bad.” There is always latent energy tucked inside the “bad” just waiting to be released as fuel for our lives. One way to access that energy is to celebrate it and truly enjoy how very vast you are on the inside. You are so vast you can hold all the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, indifferent, scary, wise, and wounded parts with absolute bliss for being present to your own life. For being the human that you are and having very human experiences.
Radical acceptance + celebration (ability to hold all sensation) = wholeheartedness = unified will = power!
This formula can be applied to any area of life where you feel stuck, powerless, resentful, or victimized. Soren Kierkegaard famously wrote: “purity of heart is to will only one thing.” When you accept and celebrate all your parts and are willing to hold the sensations, you can then choose your path with clarity and confidence. Instead of being at odds with yourself, you are now fueled by the internal power of all the energy within.