I used to think strength was synonymous with indifference and so, in my early 20’s, I mastered the mask of indifference. Nothing got to me. Nothing ruffled my feathers. I was cool, calm and collected all the time. Even if I wasn’t ok, I had acting like I was down to a fine art. (Not even I knew I was acting, that was just “the way I was”) Sound familiar? I bet it does for a lot of you.
We’ve all been taught this to some degree. This lie. That to be strong, is to be tough. That we should be thick skinned and wiser than our worries, winning the battle over our weaknesses daily. We don’t cry, we don’t get hurt and we don’t get angry… we’re in control, we’re rational and we’re mature. Always.
Sounds like some sort of superhero. "The Unaffected".
Real strength is NOT pretending to be ok when you’re crying inside. It’s NOT stuffing down emotions in attempt to be resilient. It’s NOT avoiding facing your weaknesses because you believe you shouldn’t have them. It’s NOT pretending to be positive when really, you feel like your world is withering away. It’s NOT shunning vulnerability as though it were some vile disease. There are so many people deeply hurt from living a life believing that this is what strength is. Real strength is not trying to look strong. It’s not trying to do anything.
That wannabe strength has us be hard on the outside, but soft, soupy melted bowls of butter on the inside. We appear strong but are actually fragile and far more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Our goal is to not need the armour anymore! We lose the protection and instead build a pillar of support deep within our being.
The armour comes off and you’ll find:
Strength Isn’t Afraid of the Truth. You don’t pretend with other people and you don’t pretend with the face in the mirror. Even when the truth hurts, you know your power lies in finding the courage to be brutally honest with yourself.
Strength Acknowledges Weaknesses. You expect your humanness to show and know that your mistakes are your learning ground. You don’t need to hide it. You don’t need to be right. You don’t need to prove a point.
Strength is Soft – Paradoxically and perhaps the most beautiful off-spring of strength. You understand others. You forgive. Your compassion is palpable. You empathize. You know when to surrender. You’re comfortable being vulnerable.
Strength Wants to Get Stronger! You want to grow. You won’t just settle for complacency and mediocrity. You want to learn continually from all situations and experiences that life throws at you. Strength = Growth Mindset.
Strength Takes Responsibility. You know that you can’t embody strength and a victim mentality at the same time. You look at yourself. You don’t blame. If the same problem, relationship or worry keeps coming back into your life, you know that it’s because of you. You know it’s your job to do something about it.
Strength Knows it’s Worth. You value your opinion. You have needs. You communicate your needs. You value your input. You are not easily shaken. You value you. You recognize yourself as a unique individual with something to offer.
Strength is Balanced With Flexibility. You don’t mind being thrown off course. You can re-adjust. You keep going. You find a different way. You can embrace change.
This is a quality to strive for and grow in for every single one of us. When fake strength manifests as aggression and anger, (as it very often does) it hurts the entire world. When fake strength has it’s pride hurt or it’s weaknesses revealed, eruptions occur and they impact us both individually and collectively. All we need to do is watch the news for 30 seconds and it becomes very obvious that our world needs more softness, more compassion and more responsibility taken… the first place to begin is with ourselves.