Conviction Comes Out of Chaos. You Need To Plan for Both.
“In our timidity and our shoddy opportunism, we are always stirred when a man appears on the horizon willing to stake his all on a conviction.”
― Clyde Kilby
Conviction is a wonderful state of mind. It feels confident, yet humble. The mind whistles as it walks lightly with the warmth of the sun keeping it company. Have you had these moments? When the feeling of conviction underpins your actions? In these moments, the body relaxes. The mind pauses its anxious chatter and nervous jabs. We feel at ease. And our actions seem effortless.
Christina Guidotti has captured the state of mind very well when she says,
“Conviction is what gives belief its stamina — like an unstoppable life force. It’s when our belief is so strong and we are fixed on our vision — even when there is no evidence that the vision will become a reality — that we are inspired to take action towards our desired destination. When you have conviction you don’t really mind what others think — you argue less and suffer less stress — you don’t have to prove yourself. When we don’t have conviction we lack energy and stamina and are often less productive and fulfilled.”
So how does one gain conviction?
- By inviting chaos.
Conviction is born out of chaos. They go together. Conviction is gained wisdom after a period of deep doubt and despair. The level of hardship that people like Victor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi had to bear in their lives is what gave birth to their convictions towards living a free meaningful life.
These giants did not look for the easy way out. Maybe life marked them for greatness but doing so made them suffer deep pain and hardship along the way. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost anyhow.” The ability to bear the chaos is one of the key ingredients of conviction that is often overlooked. You just have to accept that chaos is a natural precursor to progress. It has its place; like manure has its place in the life of the rose.
2. By persistence of belief and action.
Persistent action drains the novelty of the belief and turns it into your nature.
You have to persist in working on the beliefs and testing and experimenting with yourself as you move along. You have to keep improving your aim as you move towards the goal. Training the mind and body to persist and improving yourself an inch more than you did yesterday is an essential incubator of a deep conviction. Daily. Even when there is doubt. Especially when there is doubt. It’s a sign of desire trying to germinate.
“Keep at it. Persistence does pay dividends. But there is a catch; you gotta believe it before manifestation will validate conviction as [your] truth. And sacrifice is a required path to fulfillment.”
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”
3. By allowing doubt to flourish, flounder, and then disappear.
Doubt is a necessary weed to accept in your garden. It is always present in the soil. Instead of ignoring it, allow it to rise and grow in the ground. This way it exposes itself. It allows you to see what the doubts are and see where they come from. Doubt is a wonderful way to test what you really believe in. You can then cut them down with your persistence and faith. Conviction is a very personal and private thing. It is unique to you. It will rarely come into your life as a gift. You have to plow for it in your own soil. The more you plow the weed and replace it with the plants and trees you want, the less the weed will interfere, and eventually, it will disappear.
“For so many years I lived in constant terror of myself. Doubt had married my fear and moved into my mind, where it built castles and ruled kingdoms and reigned over me, bowing my will to its whispers until I was little more than an acquiescing peon, too terrified to disobey, too terrified to disagree. I had been shackled, a prisoner in my own mind.
But finally, finally, I have learned to break free.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me
4. By being absorbed in creation instead of comparison.
We spent far too long frozen by comparison. We look at what someone else has done and either admire their skill or criticize it and believe we can do better. We should stop that habit and devote all our energy to creating the thing we wish to bring into the world. The creating mind has a silent self.
Your ego loses its hold on your mind. You can now focus all your attention on crafting, learning, and honing for its own sake of getting satisfaction. For example, If every time you made love to your partner you were concerned about how you compared to last time or her other previous lovers, I can assure you the act will leave both of you longing for a different lover.
5. Make fear, your worst enemy, your best friend.
“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Once you accept that the worst enemy of conviction is fear you have to learn to make it your closest ally. You have to learn to watch it as it rises in your mind. Then learn to watch it pass. Know that fear is just your ego alerting you to the dangers inherent in uncertainty. It’s just doing its job like a radar does for its captain to alert him of the dangers ahead. Don’t get attached to it. It is not you. But allow it to show you what you fear. That awareness will give you immense strength to know how to deal with the hurdle in your path.
Conviction is a graduation present from the school of Chaos. It will test you but the reward will be a deep sense of calm as you play the game of life.