4.2
February 9, 2020

Why We Don’t Always Need to be “Strong.”

Being strong and being resilient are two different things.

Strong is the ability to withstand great force. Not a bad skill. But resilient is the ability to spring back into shape after stretching or being compressed.

Our culture prizes strength: Be strong, girl. You got this.

We are taught to fight back tears and carry the burden—to take the force. To be strong means to withstand a load, but it doesn’t talk about what happens after the load is “absorbed.”

Strength doesn’t teach us how to rebound, rebuild, recover. It instead teaches us to hide the cracks in the foundation, to cover up the weaknesses that the stresses and strains begot.

What does it mean to take on stress and be able to recover? Where is it that we find a positive amount of stress, and where is it that we find our absolute limit for today?

In yoga, we often talk about going to the “edge,” but do we even need to go to the edge right now? Perhaps 30 percent is enough. Perhaps 50 percent is enough.

>> What does it look like to say “no,” or to be honest with yourself and others that if you were to take something more on, even just this once, you wouldn’t be able to bounce back?
>> What would it mean if you asked yourself or others for modifications so that you were still in that resilience zone?

Can we culturally focus on longevity and not just applaud the moment that someone carried the heaviest burden (and invisibly crumbled later, outside of Instagram)?

You may have read this and thought I was talking about the body. Read it again and consider that it applies to your mental capacities.

You may have read this and thought I was talking about your mind. Read it again and consider that it also applies to your physical capacities.

We need resilience in both body and mind. They go together, and the forces of one impact the other. Maybe not today, but somewhere down the line, your teacher is going to notice your body strain from a mental event. Likewise, somewhere down the line, your therapist is going to notice a mental strain from a body event.

The way to truly get “strong” is by stressing your mind and body just enough. Too far and it cracks. Not enough and you cannot grow or carry the burdens that you need to in order to be a capable and competent adult.

I’m not suggesting weakness or ineptitude. I’m suggesting we find our individual resilience zones. We can work on doing so daily through skill development and practises that help foster our expansion.

I’m suggesting that we all try to stop being so “strong.”

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author: Janis Isaman

Image: Alora Griffiths/Unsplash

Editor: Marisa Zocco