Bear Witness to Your Own Triumph

Recognizing the reality of our private, hidden victories gives us a more real self-perception, and builds self-security.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

It’s easy to feel like a failure. It’s a sane reaction to an insane world where enough is never enough, at least by external metrics of our cynical society.

The credit and recognition we get is never commensurate with the effort we give. This is in part because most of our effort is unseen. We fight a thousand battles inside our own minds and souls every day.

No one can ever really know what we go through. There are mighty battles inside that cannot be properly communicated to others, and therefore never recognized by anyone but ourselves. We wrestle with inner demons, and often we win; we get out of comfortable beds, we go to work, we comport ourselves despite wanting to scream and rage and the injustice of it all, etc. If we don’t take time to notice how often we win those inner battles, though, we’ll be stuck thinking we’re failing despite having so many daily victories.

It feels good to see and know the truth about ourselves. It takes real effort and focus, though; it isn’t enough to just have an idea that we’re working hard, we have to actually sit and direct our mind’s eye inward, to look at what we’ve done, and witness it for what it is. Awareness does not always happen automatically, especially when we’re taught to devalue our internal senses while yielding to those imposed on us by society.

This habit of taking note of how hidden victories can, over time, build us up, make us feel more secure and less afraid. This inner recognition helps to build a core of self anchored firmly in reality. The person who knows exactly who they are is fearless. From this stable platform we can more easily strike out boldly into a world that so rarely gives us credit.

This is especially vital when we’re going through tough times. Sometimes fighting for our lives doesn’t look like much from the outside. We look like losers, sometimes, because no one can see the courage being shown inside. A great victory may be deciding to not drink every second of the day despite wanting to desperately for every second of the day, a kind of marathon of willpower that might not look like much of anything to someone else, but which we can recognize as an incredible triumph of will and character if we make the effort to see it.

Sometimes the hidden courage we show is simply to stick around through pain sufficient to extinguish the joy of living. No one will throw us a parade for that, but with a clear and practiced inner eye we can validate our own victory against death.

It is wise, too, to let this inner vision remind us of the hidden battles being fought by everyone around us. Our own inner recognition can inform a deeper recognition of others. This makes us ever more compassionate and patient, since we know there is so much we cannot see in a person. We become less stupid and less easy to deceive by the exteriors of people. It is easier to perceive the inner workings of someone — and therefore to love them that much more — when we are aware of their complex inner existence having spent so much time witnessing our own.

Being a witness to our own inner truimph makes being a person a richer and more enjoyable experience. Without it we risk believing the limited and skewed narrative of ourselves we see reflected by how our society treats us. There is tremendous freedom and joy in seeing the truth of our inner courage, if only we make the time to be aware of it.