June 6, 2012

Do You Have the Strength for Happiness?

Photo: MSGT Jon Nicolussi, U.S. Air Force

Hey, you can drop that 1500-pound weight from your shoulders!

Take off the boxing gloves, the mask, the impossible horse crap that doesn’t belong to you.

Most of the time the word “strength” is misconstrued.

When I hear someone tell me they possess strength, I find it is often related to what they present to the world.

They believe it is shown in how they tell someone off; they may believe they don’t choose to be the burro that everyone places their luggage on, carrying the weight of the entire world on their back.

Um yeah…it’s a choice.

Sometimes I hear the words, “Bring it on, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!” Or, “I am always the strong one!”

The thing is, all this so-called strength is weighing them down, sucking their happiness out into the ozone and giving heaps of stress leading to a not so “strong” road ahead.

Being strong, as in “wearing armor,” means you have built walls.

It’s a facade.

When you dismantle the wall, what is behind door number three?

Many in our society place value in the a*s-kicking of others, building our walls or armor—“I am so tough!”—creating all sorts of drama to show strength just so no one has to deal with what is behind that curtain.

If you take a peek behind the curtain, what lurks in there? Truth, authenticity, insecurity, love, everything and nothing?

Strength, as spelled out here, is really a separation in yourself, it’s not cohesive or whole.

Many of my clients had this remarkable strength, and at one point so did I. Living in being the “strong one” meant suffering from high levels of anxiety, perfectionism, depression, stress, fear and trying to keep it all in balance while perhaps pushing help away.

No one can figure out why they feel so weak, when they are being so strong.

This type of strength requires approval from a measuring stick with no end. It is a reward system with no reward; it is vague and has no absolute authority. In other words, you get no brownie points or get of jail free cards for being strong. There’s no one to greet you at the finish line for strength; there is no reward or fulfillment.

photo: Amgine

A person can keep on proving their mettle and never feel good.

A few missing elements from this “type” of strength are words such as: connection, peace, belonging, vulnerability, courage, and feeling good enough or worthy.

Now real strength is what leads to real happiness.

Each day I put awareness on where I build walls around myself and against others. I look at their foundation and shake it up!

After recognizing the “real” feelings that created the wall, I expose my vulnerability and speak my truth to whomever may listen. Strength builds connection, not superiority or inferiority; it allows me to relax and embrace happiness—I feel like I belong.

Strength in being my most authentic self no matter what it may cost in appearances to others is priceless. I know of nothing more that brings a sense of wholeness. Strength is reaching out and specifically stating what you need from others. Clarity and empowerment are gained from doing this.

Strength is honesty, pain, happiness, love—feeling all of our emotions—visiting what breathes behind the carefully placed armor and constructed walls.

Strength says “no” when you mean “no,” and “yes” when you mean “yes.”

Strength is recognizing you are enough and worthy because you’re doing what suits you from your heart and soul. Want to finger paint all day Saturday and not run errands? Do it! Want to start a fan club for happiness? Begin it now. Start living life on your terms. That is true strength.

There is no need to draw a line in the sand or tell other people where to go. You just go where you want, others can join you or choose their own road.

Freedom is true strength.

Take a stand for yourself by being true to your heart, not your mind and the stories it tells that you “should” act in any capacity. There will always be the “what if’s, the shoulds and the have to’s.”

And what happens if you don’t do the items on the “should list”?

Your world changes.

photo: Joe Chill 2

I watch it happen with my clients all the time. They stop a “should” in its tracks. They break a pattern of auto-pilot and become engaged in their life by not being the burro, superman, a knight in armor, the tent-holder or any other show of “strength,” which is meant for applause by an invisible entity. They go behind the wall and come out and play.

You can be supportive, but you don’t ever have to take on someone else’s crap, especially if they aren’t taking it on themselves. Compassion is a beautiful thing, being a sacrificial lamb ain’t so pretty.

So, if you would like, forget what society portrays as “strength,” where happiness is a new Louis Vuitton bag or a Maserati. Strength is in vogue when it is from your most vulnerable, authentic, connected place inside of you….and its most special gift is the happiness it brings inside of you.


Editor: Brianna Bemel

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