Being True To Your Emotions Is A Sign Of Strength.



The New Year often involves people making resolutions regarding their emotional wellbeing – some of which they may already be finding hard. It is important to think about some of the challenges we set ourselves regarding our emotions, especially when it comes to how we express them. What I am going to particularly focus on is the pledge to be ‘strong; and ‘tough’.

These are words which in an emotional sense often mean holding back reaction; making a real effort to fade away from feeling and forming a façade instead. Many people pledge to ‘be strong’ in a way they think means avoiding showing emotion, not crying etc. But there is a real difference in presenting yourself as ‘strong’ and actually feeling ‘strength’. This strength comes from awareness of our own emotions and hence openness can be a good quality to take forward into The New Year…

Ultimately, I want to draw attention to this cultural ideal of being ‘strong’ and ‘tough’ – and emphasize that it isn’t perhaps as big as it thinks it is. It could be seen as a big problem more than anything else. After all, words like ‘strong’ are subjective – they mean different/changing things to different people – hence there is no clear end goal. In turn, people may keep adapting their behaviour to suit other people’s views of being ‘strong’, whilst feeling more distant from themselves.

It may be frightening though at the same time liberating to think that he ultimate strength lies within – because our emotions are the most intense things we are going to feel and hence it matters how we deal with them.

Keeping in mind: Don’t play at being ‘strong’, be yourself

  • It’s okay to have a ‘bad’ day – when people made pledges to ‘be strong’ this appears paired with the presumption that to have a ‘bad’ day is a sign of weakness; when this is in fact the opposite. Being able to recognise that you aren’t feeling as emotionally stable or finding things difficult is a sign of maturity – plus putting you in a position where you can start to address it! Whilst putting on a front of being strong can push the issue further ‘back’, by accepting that everyone has ‘bad’ days you are being accommodating to others as well as yourself. If you having a bad day, this does not mean that your efforts of positivity have been wasted either. In fact, it is this ability to recognise that some days are worse than others which proves the range in your emotion and that you CAN get out of the tougher times
  • Expressing upset rather than holding regret – A common pledge of people seeking to be ‘strong’ is that they will not break down, cry or show strong emotion – which seems quite contradictory in itself! Firstly, I try to think of it like this instead - ‘strong’ isn’t something shown, it is something owned; personal to our own capacities. Secondly, the route to gain this is through honesty – being true to others and ourselves. A number of people I have encountered in tears have attempted to apologise after – when in fact it is showing true emotion which is trust-forming and admirable exercise. Hence why it is referred to as ‘being moved to tears’ – an active process. To bite back emotion, even if it’s negative, creates a simmering passivity healthy to no one. Remember, being emotional in front of another person can be the ultimate marker of honesty – so is this exactly a bad thing?
  • Even just lifting your eyes to read is strength in itself – the aspiration to be ‘strong’ often comes with inflated ideals of what this involves; for example taking on too many tasks, attempting to be there for as many others as possible, but not really there ourselves. This appears a theme of trying to live up to the social identity of ‘strong’; it compromises our identity rather than realising it. Instead, there is no shame in beginning with the little things and realising that at the first level, your own experience is a strength. You don’t have to host big events or put yourself in the public eye in order to be strong. Strength is realising that ‘strong’ lies in our own abilities - our capacity to engage with the world.


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