Who decided that being "strong" means always looking like you have your sh*t together?
We need to talk about strength.
For whatever reason, someone, somewhere, decided that strength = never showing how you feel.
(brief pause while I swallow my rage)
Why have we universally accepted this definition of strength when it goes against our very nature of being human? AKA experiencing a full spectrum of emotions—happy, calm, sad, angry, stressed, hurt, lonely, grief, disgusted, embarrassed, love, joy, worry.......
Look, my job is to get you to feel your emotions. That's my #1 goal. And I'm really good at it. But this idea of being strong = only showing a calm, cool, and collected game face makes achieving that goal very difficult.
The number of times I've heard,
I have to be strong for my children.
I don't want to look weak.
I'm stronger than that.
when letting people know that they have every right to feel what they're feeling, is ridiculous. Honestly, the number is in the thousands.
I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YA: NO ONE IS CALM, COOL, & COLLECTED ALL THE TIME.
I want you to take a minute here and think of the strongest person on earth. I mean absolutely jacked, body builder, could-crush-you-between-their-fingers strong. Hold the image of that person in your mind.
Now, imagine that person is exercising in some way—maybe they're lifting weights, running, playing sports, etc—and you can see them sweating. Thick beads of sweat develop on their forehead. Do you have that visual? Pause here if you don't, and just take a minute to really create that picture in your mind.
Okay. Now that you have it, I'm gonna ask you: Does their sweat make you doubt their strength?
Of course not. Why would it? Sweating is a natural reaction when your body is exerting itself. You can still see this person's bulging muscles and obvious strength. You wouldn't suddenly try to take them on in a fight just because you see them sweat.
So why do we take the opposite mentality when it comes to our emotions?
When we are overwhelmed by work or school, or grieving the loss of someone, or struggling with relationship conflicts, or stressed by new found parenthood, or worried about the pandemic, or depressed from past trauma, or terrified when dealing with current trauma, or lonely because we just moved, or defeated by the state of things, OR LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENS IN OUR LIVES; why aren't we allowed to show it?
We have this idea that being vulnerable means being weak. And sure, when we are more open & honest with people in an attempt to connect and bond with them, we open ourselves up to the possibility of hurt or disappointment. AND, it is not a weakness. Brené Brown, my icon, once said,
Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.
Showing that I am sad does not make me weak; it makes me strong.
Showing that I am stressed does not make me weak; it makes me strong.
Showing that I am grieving does not make me weak; it makes me strong.
Showing that I am anxious does not make me weak; it makes me strong.
Showing that I am lonely does not make me weak; it makes me strong.
Showing that I am embarrassed does not make me weak; it makes me strong.