Being 'strong'

Strong… a word we bandy around so often, we all seem to want to be seen as viewed by others as strong. So what attributes do we need to demonstrate to be considered strong?  

I’ve lost count of how many of my clients have told me that behaviours such as crying and asking for help/support are a sign of weakness. They feel that in some way they are letting others, and indeed themselves down – they tell me they feel weak. More often than not this leads to pretending that everything is OK. They may be able to fool others, for a while at least, and possibly themselves but deep down they know they’re not OK yet choose to maintain that façade. 

As a society we generally adhere to the belief that honesty is good and being dishonest is bad. If we find out that someone has been lying to us we generally don’t feel good and lying to others generally does not feel good yet so often we choose to keep up the pretence we are coping because we feel we should be strong. Is this not being dishonest? Are we not lying by omission; hiding the fact that we are not coping and that we could do with some support? People have often told me it takes courage to be honest in this respect. Surely courage is a sign of strength therefore would telling the truth about our ability to cope and/or our emotional wellbeing not be the strong thing to do? 

If we value honesty, how it might be for us to be honest in this arena and stop pretending to ourselves and/or others that everything is fine. Admitting our vulnerability might feel like a scary step into unknown territory; indeed clients who have taken this step recalled concerns such as what might people think of them? How would others react? What possible difference could it make? The first two questions would obviously be specific to individuals but in regard to that last question, the overwhelming feedback is that it gave a tremendous feeling of relief and opened up a whole world of opportunities previously unseen and they are so glad they did it. How might it be for you?

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Written by Carrie Munday - MBACP (Registered Member)

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