The Opposite of Strong is Weak

 
 

The shadow

Many people see me as a strong, confident, woman. And you know what, it’s true! I am strong. However, I resonate so deeply with strength, that I have a hard time with weakness (the shadow).

All of our strengths and parts of ourselves that we are proud of, have an opposite, or shadow. And typically, the more our ego (sense of self) associates with one, the more we reject the other.

Since I am strong, and relate to that identity, I really don’t enjoy feeling or seeming weak (my shadow).

I’m really uncomfortable sharing when I’m going through a hard time. And I am even less comfortable asking for support (working on it).

Avoiding Weakness

This is a primal instinct.

If we were all animals in the wild, or in serious danger, feeling or seeming weak would most likely end our existence. While fortunately that is not my reality, the instinct is still there.

To avoid seeming “weak”, many of us go it alone (whether that be an issue in relationship, at work, a medical abnormality, depression, sadness, trauma, etc.).

It is almost like we are proving to ourselves (and our ego), “see, I don’t need anyone. I got this!”

And while we may not always “need” people, it feels really good to receive support.

What we truly need

When we are going through a hard time and are lucky enough to have people in our lives ask, “what do you need?”, many of us respond, “I don’t know” or “nothing”.

Sometimes we really don’t know, and other times, we are too scared to ask for what we truly need:

Someone to hold space

Someone to come over

Someone to hold us

Someone to cook for us

Someone to care for us

Holding Space

About a year ago I was introduced to a new way of being there for someone called “holding space”. This is gaining a lot of popularity today, and for good reason!

When you hold space for someone, you bring your entire presence to them. You walk along with them without judgment, sharing their journey to an unknown destination. Yet you’re completely willing to end up wherever they need to go. You give your heart, let go of control, and offer unconditional support.
— Huffington Post

This concept was revolutionary for me, and I now practice holding space with friends and clients.

A big reason I don’t usually reach out for support is because people don’t usually hold space. No one teaches us this invaluable skill growing up.

Instead, we usually receive:

  • Judgement instead of love

  • Projections instead of presence

  • Pity instead of compassion

  • Advice instead of listening

  • No response instead of responding

Can any of you relate? I’ve been on the giving and receiving end.

Sharing when we’re down

Those of us whose ego’s resonate with STRENGTH over WEAKNESS most likely also carry the belief that sharing when we’re down makes us seem weak to others:

We don’t want to be the baby bird with their wing broken. We don’t want to be pitied because that goes against our ego which says we are strong! So we make up stories:

  • “They won’t want to hear about this”

  • “They have a lot going on already”

  • “I don’t want to bring them down with my stuff”

By making it about them, we are deeply neglecting ourselves.

But more often than not, these are just stories we tell ourselves to avoid feeling vulnerable and “weak” in front of others. Sure, we all have people in our lives that maybe are too busy, or do not want to listen, but hopefully we all have someone that does (even if it is a family member, therapist or coach).

Social media Crutch

Social media is amazing for a lot of things. However, I believe it is also crippling our ability to authentically share with people in our lives.

Instead of texting or calling individuals when we are going through a hard time (active share), us millenials, Gen X, Gen Y’ers (and beyond), post or story about whatever is going on and wait to receive support in the digital space (passive share).

And how many of those people who like or comment “feel better” or “sending you love” are going to send us a text, call us, or show up at our doors? A much smaller number if anyone.

This gives us all an easy way out:

  • The sharer - Can seem strong for sharing on social and not have to reach out for support

  • The responder - Can get away with a quick message instead of really being there

It may feel like we are really supported by the number of likes or comments, but is that what we are looking for? Sometimes YES, for bigger things, probably NO.

Here’s the truth

Anyone who loves, cares, and accepts us, would want to know if something is wrong so that they can give to us.

Relationships are all about giving and receiving - Think us strong warriors forget that sometimes. We like to give, but have a hard time receiving.

When we withhold information from those in our lives, we are preventing them from giving to us.

Sharing our stuff with people is SCARY, at least it usually is for me.

However, I’m believing a different view on strength and weakness:

  • It takes MORE strength to share what we are going through than to keep it inside.

  • It takes MORE strength to open up our hearts to others.  

  • It takes MORE strength to receive from others (regardless of what we receive)

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While I might look strong as I hold this standard “gun show” pose, beneath this sweater are some skinny arms that most people would consider “weak”.

We are each both strength and weakness (always) whether that is in our minds or bodies.

When we can accept our shadow and all sides of ourselves is when we progress on our journey towards of self-love.

So this is me - Strong and Weak and learning to love both sides

The longer I coach, the more I realize we are all looking to come home to ourselves, but in order to do that, we need to feel SEEN, SAFE, and SUPPORTED.

I am building a Tribe. A community for women where we HOLD SPACE. Where we honor and accept each other for sharing the real stuff. Where we celebrate each other and let that freak flag and inner child fly. I am also regularly going live in this group and teaching about stress & anxiety, and the journey towards highest self.

If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, we’d love to have you!

Becca Wiseman