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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When Being Strong is Weak and Being Weak is Strong and Somewheres in Between.

I grew up with an 'old school' dad who passed on or expressed 'old school' ways and ways to his kids.  Now I will only speak as a guy, but from what I 'learned' boys were expected to 'deal' with adversity and utilizing what we call behavioral health--counseling or psychiatry--was showing or admitting weakness.  Now I don't fault him as he grew up in a society or world that blessed that view.  With time and distance from my childhood and his immediate influence, I have a more nuanced view.  For example, I don't think counselors or psychiatrists by definition are quacks--his words--but instead that some are generally effective, some are generally ineffective and some are helpful for some clients, but not others.  But, I digress.  I moved from my dad's old school contempt for behavioral health into a perspective in which utilizing behavioral health can be a sign of strength.  That is to say, not being too proud to admit you or your child have a problem which a behavior/medical professional can help you with.  To me that's strength.  

The goal of this blog post is recognize when purported strengths are actually weaknesses and vice versa.  In many cases a purported strength is actually a strength and purported weakness is actually a weakness, so I will address that too.  



Strength is weakness (examples)
  • Doing something on your own, when help is both offered, available and even desirable.
    • Initially, it may be desirable to do something on your own just to show you can do it or get past a block--such as writing a paper or story.  This can give you and others confidence in your ability.
    • It can become a weakness if you continue to reject help because you can do it yourself.  For example, when you have willing and available help for moving and refuse it in order to show you don't need help.
  • Someone does you wrong and you treat them badly and/or reject them completely.
    • Obviously you don't hand them out a friendship award for mistreating you.
    • Often it is necessary to display consequences for the mistreatment to indicate its not acceptable.
    • Excessive payback can make you look small, not strong.
    • Excessive frigidness or hostility, instead of displaying strength, can actually show a weakness.
      • Inability to respond properly due to unchecked emotions.
      • Too much of a focus on making sure to show how strong you are--such as how you don't NEED the other person--can actually be an attempt to hide or compensate for a wounded pride.
  • Virtue signaling - that is publicly and blatantly everyone know that you ARE on the right side of an issue.
    • Can be portrayed as strength--that is you are willing to take a public stand on an issue.
    • Often times it shows a blatant 'need' or desire to be accepted.  That is hoping to be praised for virtuousness.  In other words, it is a weakness that you are relying on or craving public approval.
Weakness is strength (examples)
  • Breaking down and seeking help, when circumstances dictate.
    • Going to the doctor rather than stubbornly hoping to wait out being sick.
    • Going to a grief counselor/group when you've had a profound death in the family.
    • It shows that you are stronger than your pride or discomfort at asking or accepting help.
  • Turning the other cheek, when you easily could punish someone else.
    • It shows that you will not let someone else's mistreatment of you get the best of or rule you.
    • It shows that you a the bigger person.  That is you put what is best over getting back at another.  Aka you are stronger than your pride or emotions.
    • Often times there will be another time or circumstance to 'respond' to the mistreatment.
  • Not saying anything in response to a situation, circumstance or story.
    • You don't need the approval you believe you can generate by getting on the 'right side' of the issue.  Your esteem is more deeply rooted.
    • You are wise or strong enough to see that sometimes outwardly responding serves no useful purpose and potentially can inflame a situation.
    • Holding your tongue rather than caving to pressure to respond (and 'show you care').  You are smart and strong enough to realize that your actions will be a better portrayal of your character than throwaway or forced responses.
    • There will usually be another opportunity and way to respond at a later point.
Strength is strength (examples)
  • Risking your health and safety to help another out in a life and death situation.  That is overcoming the fear of consequences to you.
  • A projection of military might to discourage other nations from threatening yourself or your allies.
Weakness is weakness (examples)
  • Continually let someone bully you without saying anything or otherwise standing up for yourself.  It's one thing to turn the other cheek, but it's another to just make yourself out to be a huge and continued target.
  • Going to the other extreme and getting 'hurt' over every little perceived injustice or offense.

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Life will provide you ample opportunities to show your strength of will, judgment and/or character.  Not every circumstance is meant to be an opportunity to display your 'strength' (or weakness).  The most important thing is to seek wisdom and guidance (including from your Higher Power) on how to handle each circumstances.  In the meantime, it is important to be grounded and base your responses more on what is appropriate and less on how they will help you.  I believe in life if your actions or behavior are based on what is right vs. what is convenient, in the long run, you will keep your own respect and more often then not win that of others.