Being Strong Isn't A Choice. Is It Your Only Option?
Many of us have been conditioned to believe, we must be strong to survive. There is strength in being vulnerable; a comfort in seeing that you are not alone, along with power in knowing when to reach out for help.
A common theme that I come across in my work as a psychotherapist, is a belief that as individuals we should “be strong” and hide our fears, pains and insecurities.
When we pretend to be different to who we really are, we are often denying our true self by wearing an invisible mask. The mask we wear is our attempt as individuals to control what we hope, others will view and think of us. Skilfully we camouflage our authentic self, with the hope of seeking the approval of others or to avoid being disapproved. There will be many reasons why individuals adopt the mantra “I have to be strong”, which can be linked to historical and personal survival. The legacy of strength has supported many to deal with the stresses of life and this strength can go beyond all understanding.
As a therapist I invite my clients to consider the relationship they have with themselves because it’s important we can embrace our vulnerabilities. Many individuals are concerned by how others may see or think of them. So, what do I mean by vulnerable? Being vulnerable doesn't elicit weakness but openness. It doesn’t mean fragile because as humans we all experience common vulnerable feelings such as insecurity, doubt and fear.
However, due to some of the influential and parental messages that are passed down from our families, cultures and backgrounds we can be misinformed that being strong is the only way to be and hide these common feelings from one another. Shortcomings and self-doubts are not unique to us as individuals and this myth can hinder our development. Being strong can be a help but it can also get in the way, because others may see us as withdrawn and uncaring. The reality is by taking care of others we maybe failing to take care of ourselves. As a therapist I encourage my clients to find their voice around their vulnerabilities; to consider what their mask looks like and in that process, they can begin to get to know their authentic self.