“My father was a very strong man. It was his way or the highway.”
“My mother is a very strong person. She is the matriarch of the family and controls everyone. I never see her cry.”
These descriptions of strength do not fall under my definition of ‘strong.’
Strength and Weakness
Strength is reaching a place in your growth where you have the courage to feel and lovingly manage your painful core feelings of sorrow, loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, grief and helplessness over others—rather than avoiding them with various addictions and controlling behavior.
Weakness is when you are too afraid to feel and learn from your feelings, so you avoid them with substance and process addictions, and with controlling behavior toward others to get them to take responsibility for your feelings. Given these definitions, the above statements made by my clients about their parents are describing weakness, not strength.
Strong people are able to cry—to be moved by things and to cry as a way to release the energy of that strong emotion. Unfortunately, many people were programmed as children to not cry, since their parents didn’t know how to handle painful feelings – their own and their children’s. Many people were even teased, at home or at school, for crying, further programming them to avoid tears.