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What does it really mean to be strong?

July 8th, 2013

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I have often struggled with the concept of strength what does it really mean to be strong? aside from having strong muscles of course ;)

strong

For a long time I felt I wasn't strong enough, I felt I could be broken easily, I felt my emotions were so raw and deep that I could loose myself in them. After struggling with recurrent bouts of depression in my adult life, I came to the conclusion that I was indeed anything but strong, and I felt like a failure in that respect.

Moving to the US made things even more complicated for me, as the American culture really values strength, resilience, stoicism, undaunted optimism, etc. as great qualities. On the other hand showing vulnerability, neediness, pain, despair, etc. are not OK in this culture, at least that is the way I perceived it, inside and outside my own home. I felt like I could not show my vulnerability because I would not be respected, let alone understood, so I didn't.

But for the past few years, I have learned to embrace the side of me that feels vulnerable; I have accepted that sometimes I need help or a shoulder to cry on, and that is OK. I have realized that I am human! and it is OK to feel weak or needy or sad sometimes; hiding these feelings and pretending they are not there can only hurt us in the end, because all that energy gets trapped in our bodies and can cause many other problems including diseases and unnecessary anger.

I have realized that being strong has nothing to do with not feeling (or not showing) vulnerability, but rather with the capacity to feel it and accept it without judgment, to have the courage to ask for help and the bravery to let go of our pride.

No long ago, at a lecture by Dr. Ronald Siegel (one of my favorite authors), he explained the concept of the warrior in the Shambhala vision, which is very different from the concept of warrior we may have in the west. The Shambhala warrior is someone that is open and able to feel everything deeply, the pleasant and the unpleasant events of life and can withstand all challenges with acceptance and inner peace.

That is to me the meaning of real strength, not pretending, not hiding, not denying our vulnerability and our need for others, but rather embracing them with honor.

Sure we don't want to dwell on negative emotions, we need to let all those emotions flow without getting stuck on them (in our heads), but it is OK to feel them at times, we just need to let them be.

I would like to share with you a few small pieces of a wonderful excerpt from The Invitation by Oriah:

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,"Yes."

If you wish to read the entire excerpt, you can find it here: The Invitation

So today, I feel I am strong, I feel I have the courage to love, to fall, to loose, to start over and most of all, to allow myself to experience all of it and share it with others.

And I want to raise my children not only to accept their emotions and be comfortable with them, but also to accept it in others and be supportive and compassionate. It is sad to see that some people are so uncomfortable with showing emotions that they are unable to relate to those that do, they can't even show compassion and support to others because they have no idea how to handle their emotions, let alone other people's.

So be true, be real, be vulnerable, be what you need to be, and trust your strength, it is there!

Have a good week!

Related posts: Embracing your Vulnerability

Announcements:

Attract Your Soul mate Now A free online series on how to manifest amazing love in your life. Starts on July 10th. Register here

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