What being STRONG really means
- Tracey Hancock
What comes to mind for you when you hear the phrase "be strong"?
For many people, it means being tough and hard, and sucking up whatever is happening and getting on with life. But that’s not what being strong is about at all (well at least not in my book!).
Being strong is seeing something as it is and allowing how you feel to spill out.
When we try to push something aside, hold it down and ignore it, it doesn't go away. Imagine a ball that’s pushed under water. It might be out of sight but it hasn't disappeared, and it will pop up at some stage, usually with a splash! And that's exactly what happens when you ignore something and how you feel.
Serious illness, redundancy, the death of a loved one and separation are significant events, events that can cause great pain and if we choose to ignore them, we'll also suffer terribly. Often when we face a significant event, we create a story about what's happening. In the past when something happened in my life, I'd go to town creating a story with me as the lead 'baddie'. Not only would I blame myself, but I also wouldn't allow any space to express how I was feeling. That wasn't a great strategy for healing and moving forward well.
Now I focus on seeing the situation for what it is and allow how I feel to flow. I give myself the space I need and embrace the messiness that comes with whatever it is I'm facing. The tears of sadness, frustration, anger or loss, walking around in a daze, sitting staring at the grass or the sky or doing whatever it is that's needed. I allow it all.
Strong isn’t pretending everything is okay, sucking up whatever is going on and carrying on. It’s about stopping and really seeing what’s happening and allowing yourself to feel what there is to feel.
Here are the three steps that are now at the core of my strategy when I'm facing a significant event...
Step 1. Write down the facts, not the story you’ve created about the event. Here’s an example – fact: my position was made redundant vs. story: I’m useful, hopeless, no one thinks I can do my job well, I’ll never work again, I’m done, etc. See the difference between them, it's an important distinction.
Step 2. Put down on paper how you feel. Get it all out - write, draw or paint it. Allow how you feel to move through you - feel it, express it and remember that you are not your emotion, it's simply energy moving through you. I always find it useful to cry - it's an incredible release. And I'm not just talking about a little sniffle; I let the tears flood out!
Step 3. You know you best, commit to doing what will support you well. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Time by yourself, extra sleep, more time in nature, talking with a friend or a professional, like a coach, or whatever it is that you need. Do it.
Being strong is about allowing yourself to see a situation for what it is, to acknowledge and allow space for how you feel and to care for yourself. Yes there will be pain, and there's going to be some messiness, BUT it's worth it because by facing it you're allowing yourself to move forward well.
Know someone, someone you love and care for, who needs to hear this message too? Please share.
Tracey Hancock is a coach and mentor passionately committed to helping people live well. Drawing on her own life experience and the lessons she's learnt trying to be and do what she thought was expected of her, Tracey will gently guide you to reconnect with yourself, putting you and your health at the heart of everything you do in life and business. If you know it's time to be you and to live your REAL life, contact Tracey to learn more about the REALiving approach today.