I have been hearing the statement "Why am I so weak?" and other variations such as "I don't want to be weak", or "I am not usually a weak person". In this article I would like to address the problematic thinking behind these statements. Firstly I would like to commend anyone with courage enough to admit their deepest vulnerability to anyone. Unfortunately a statement such as this admits to a problematic sense of self that will almost certainly lead to difficult emotional states lasting longer than they should. The main issue here is a lack of flexibility in thinking style. I often see clients when an intersection of stressors occurs. A death in the family, as well as an illness, in the middle of a home renovation. The experience of all these issues at once is unique in your life and therefore your emotional reaction is going to be unique. In this case, you can read "unique" as "scary".
This leads me to one of my key phrases that you would hear in a session with myself, "Sometimes your brain decides for you when you've had enough". Someone who identifies as the "strong" person often relies on their determination and rational mind to push themselves through difficult times. This will often work. Until it doesn't. The shock of no longer being able to choose whether to be resilient can be so anxiety producing for the "strong" person that they will be all the more terrified. This anxiety will create a self-perpetuating cycle that traps the person in this "weak" state.
Every person goes through very difficult times. Emotional intelligence in these situations includes the capacity to accept in the difficult emotions, to give yourself time to process what you are going through and most importantly to take time off or slow down. I can already hear some of you saying, "but I don't have the luxury of slowing down". Unfortunately, there will be a time when your brain decides for you when you slow down, and that can include the signs of depression or anxiety. Take control and slow yourself down now, or have your brain run out of steam and take that control away from you.
This is where Self-Compassion is important. Understanding that you are unable to cope with everything going wrong at once and being able to ask for help, or take some time off is the necessary first step. I wonder if you are strong enough to be able to tell accept that you are at the end of your tether. Admitting your own limits is possibly the most courageous thing you can do. It removes your sense of pride as the priority in your life and begins to include your needs as a human being.
I will expand on this concept of self-compassion and how to let it into your life in my next article.