..It’s everywhere, everyone is preaching about the perils of staying strong in the face of adversaries…On the internet, in real life, and pretty much at every corner, people are teaching you how to remain strong despite of anything that may be happening with your life. Although it looks nice on the surface, trying to be strong all the time is not such a great idea; in fact, it might actually be detrimental to your psychological well-being…
I know, that may sound a little counter-intuitive, but please bear with me for a second and I’ll explain. We humans, always tend to believe that the best way to overcome difficulties and pain is to stay strong, toughen up, and prevent yourself from feeling weak or vulnerable. This seems to make a lot of sense if you think about it. However, it’s crucial to actually learn the difference between being strong when you have to, and being strong all the time.
To illustrate my point, I’ll quote a beautiful Japanese proverb that stuck with me for quite a while. At first, like everyone else, it didn’t make much sense to me. But, when I entertained that thought for a good while, it started to crystallize and become obvious that humans are not meant to always be strong.
The Japanese proverb says:
“The bamboo that bends, is better than the oak that resists”
At first, you might wonder: Why on earth could the bending bamboo be actually better than the oak that resists? After all, resistance is thought of as a positive trait that enables us to move forward with our lives despite the obstacles. But here what the quote actually means:
Few people understand the difference between strength and resilience
Think of it for a second, Strength obviously refers to the trait of being strong, tough, thick-skinned and well-equipped to deal with the pains of life. On the other hand, resilience, which is a highly underestimated trait, means that it’s not important to remain strong all the time. But, it is important to let yourself be weak, and then rise back even stronger from your weaknesses.
To put in another way: The tree that resists the wind and refuses to move or adapt with its external environment, ends up being blown out by it. Meanwhile, the other tree that learned to move, adapt, be flexible, and dance with the music of the universe, is the one that survives even the mightiest storms.
The word ‘bends’ here refers to, in a metaphorical sense, a different number of things. It could mean letting yourself from time to time be weak, be vulnerable, and before all, be human. When you let yourself be weak, you’re not giving up, nor losing the battle, what you are doing is, giving yourself the time it needs to recover, heal, and recharge.
When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, thereby exposing your raw, unfiltered self, you’re essentially programming your mind and soul to a whole new level of self-love and self-acceptance. By recognizing and accepting the fact that you’re a vulnerable human being, you’re actually strengthening the very core of your soul, and enabling it to be much better equipped with handling any future problems or difficulties.
The word can also refer to other things, such as ‘flexibility’. The ones, who refuse to be flexible and adaptive, often lose especially in the long-term. Resistance to change and clinging to one’s safe comfort zone is surely to spare you some trouble and pain in the very short term, nevertheless setting you up for much bigger trouble and pain in the long-term.
On the other hand, people who teach themselves how to adapt, and be flexible in the face of any possible difficulties, might feel a little pain during the process. But, most importantly, they certainly set themselves up for a much bigger strength and inner-peace in the long-term.
The point here is, being strong all the time is not recommended, and it might actually be detrimental to your well-being and inner-peace. People who force themselves to remain strong and act way stronger than they actually are, are putting themselves out for a huge risk of pain and suffering.
It’s because denying one’s vulnerabilities and ignoring one’s weaknesses while simultaneously trying to believe and act as if you’re much stronger than reality, puts you under a tremendous amount of psychological pressure that is harming your mental health and well-being at every moment.
What you should do instead, is to learn and memorize the difference between strength and resilience. It’s imperative to reprogram your mind to be resilient rather than ultimately strong. This way, you’re first accepting your vulnerabilities and weaknesses hence equipping yourself with the much needed confidence and self-love that enable you to directly face and overcome your weaknesses.
The second thing is, teaching yourself to be resilient is learning that if you fall once, twice, or even a thousand times, it does not ever mean that you have fallen for good. What it actually means is that you’re resilient enough to get up back even stronger every time you go down, and arming yourself with the crucial belief that during your weakest, you should never lose hope or think that you’re pretty much done.
Instead, whenever you fall down, feel weak, or get beaten up by life’s pressures and pains, you ultimately know and believe you can and will go back up stronger after giving your mind and soul the rest and care they need, and also recharging your emotional and psychological batteries that inevitably get drained with time.
By ISMAIL M TAHER
Ismail is an novelist, blogger and entrepreneur from Cairo, Egypt. Since a very young age, Ismail has been described as an introverted old-soul who is passionate about arts, philosophy, travel, business and most importantly, leaving an impact in life. At the age of 18, Ismail wrote and published his first mental health novel ‘Cherophobia’, and later the same year he switched majors from medicine to study something he’s deeply passionate about, business. Ismail created this blog to help everyone on their pursuit of happiness, fulfillment and inner peace. He is currently residing in Egypt, with big goals of traveling the entire globe. Beside this blog, he’s currently working on both fiction and nonfiction books. You can learn more about him and/or get in touch using the ‘About’ section of the website.