Being strong

During my 4,5 months of post-concussion, I have had plenty of time to reflect and getting to know myself better. One of the questions I’ve asked myself is whether I’m strong or not, and what it actually means to be strong.

I’ve always thought I was mentally strong, so when I fell, that’s what I told myself: “I’m strong. I can get through this.” And I believed it.

I was surprised when friends and colleagues seemed worried that I would feel down after the incident: after all I was strong. I did however, not expect to feel so calm and untouched by my life changing so rapidly from one day to another.

It was only after seeing my acupuncturist, who told me to release emotions and not to be afraid of tears, that I started thinking. A day or two after seeing my acupuncturist, I found myself crying at the GP’s office. As I was crying, I realised I wouldn’t normally cry when someone literally yelled at me, and thought I probably needed more rest. I noted though, that I had started to feel somewhat low after the treatment, and when I saw my acupuncturist again, I asked if crying good be a side effect of the treatment. She nodded and said it was probably old emotions since I didn’t know why I was crying.

This lead me to ponder. Had I released all the emotions I felt about my concussion? In the early days, when it hurt too much to cry, I wrote down my feelings and noted that it helped. After being told to not escape from my feelings, I noted that suddenly I felt a tad down. I wondered whether it could be a delayed reaction to my concussion.  And then, a thought hit me: what if “I’m strong” was a mask I was carrying? What if that wasn’t really me? And what if the delayed reaction came because I had been telling a myself a lie?

As I started to be more aware and release emotions, I started crying a tad. I noted that both my parents told me not to cry. I assume they were worried I would get worse (which at the time, they would be right). However, as a child I remember being told by my dad not to cry. So maybe, not crying and being strong was a mental construction of my own or something I had learnt. It rang true at every level of my being.

I remembered something my qi gong teacher told us:

“softness is stronger than hardness.”

I then came to the conclusion that for me being strong actually means to cry, laugh or show frustration and asking for help, and not withholding emotions or not being able to ask for help.

I know people who think it is a weakness to display tears. And I wonder, can human beings actually be strong or weak at all? Isn’t it all part of the same? Don’t you actually have to be weak to be strong?

Author: Elisabeth Kolstad

I am a kundalini yoga teacher and writer in Bergen, Norway.

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