“Life will break you.
Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either,
for solitude will also break you with its yearning.
You have to love. You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to risk your heart.
You are here to be swallowed up.
And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed,
or left, or hurt, or death brushes near,
let yourself sit by an apple tree and
listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps,
wasting their sweetness.
Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
— Louise Erdrich
The need for strength surrounds us
Many years ago, I wrote and had produced a musical about King Arthur and Camelot called “Pendragon.” One of the greatest moments — for me — was when my song, “Where Do The Strong Go To Be Weak?” was performed. While the song was given the backdrop of a powerful leader suddenly realizing that he needed to show and share his powerlessness to be complete, it really was written for all of us.
I grew up around very potent and forceful and strong men and women. In fact, my grandmothers are two of the strongest people I have ever known.
My maternal grandmother was lovingly known as “The Little General.”
I have been a litigator for 30 years going up against some of the most obnoxious, ego-driven, and sociopathic attorneys in this country. You can imagine the personality I’ve had to display in order to beat them. You know, now that I write that, I confess that I have had some of the most obnoxious, ego-driven, and sociopathic clients, as well. You can imagine the personality I’ve had to display in order to serve them well.
To say that there has been a lot of testosterone flowing around me is an understatement.
Must we be strong every minute of every day?
Most of us grew up with sentiments like that expressed by General George S. Patton in his speech to the Third Army: “Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. . . . We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time.”
What happens, though, when there’s a pause in the daily battles? What happens when you need a respite? Does Patton’s “advancing under fire” tactic have to play itself out every minute of every day?
I think not.
It’s taken some time to learn, but I now know that being incredibly weak is a necessary part of being incredibly strong. In fact, being strong necessitates knowing and displaying and coming to love your weaknesses.
I am not asking you to become a doormat for others. I am asking you to let go of the safeness of looking strong all the time.
I am not asking you to become the puppet for others. I am asking you to let go of the sameness of looking strong all the time.
I am asking you to be vulnerable and reachable and human. And I’m asking you to be those things from a place of strength and knowledge and power.
Start practicing being weak and you’ll discover you’re not
Here are some ideas to practice being weak:
1. Get to know yourself first. This sounds quite trite today. Everyone tells you to “know yourself” and “to thine own self be true.” I suggest to you, though, that you’re afraid of showing weakness because you don’t really know your strengths. Once you know who and what you are and what you can do, you stop being self-defensive and combative and needing to prove yourself all of the time. It is in that moment of awakening to who you really are that you discover the true strengths of your weaknesses. And the fear and the need to defend suddenly melt away.
2. Create a habit of being exposed to others. Most of us have been taught to operate under the spell of others. We’ve been rewarded for not making waves, not being too transparent, and not going out on a limb. I’m asking you to shake off what you’ve been taught and followed for so long; to escape from being inhuman and start relating to others by first relating to yourself. If this whole concept makes you uncomfortable — GOOD. Practice one little thing each day that leaves you unprotected and unsafe. By the way, Step 2 does not mean you are to act like a victim. The world today is made up of crybabies and finger pointers. That is not what I am suggesting, at all. On the contrary, I am suggesting that the best things in your life will come to you when you keep your personal power and understand it in the context of your fears.
3. Create a network of people where you can go to be weak. How often are you able to show your authentic self to the world? Hell, how often do you show your authentic self to yourself? Start collecting people around you with whom you can share the genuine you. C.G. Jung wrote: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Find those people with whom you feel safe sharing your feelings, your experiences, and your desires. You have a unique style of living your life. I am asking you to create a group of friends around whom you have the strength to reveal what causes you pain. Soon, you will discover that your confidence in sharing the authentic you will move beyond this safe group and out into the world.
What do you think? Can you show your strength through your weakness? And are you willing to share your insights with me and others? If so, let’s continue the conversation by you subscribing at http://thinkingmagically.com or joining me on any of the major social media sites to take this discussion to an even deeper level.