I will be the first to say that I'm a thinker. Subsequently, at times I've been called an "over-thinker". I believe this attribute to be a strength and a flaw; a gift and a curse. This trait provokes me to break down things to their core, until I can see just the framework. It is through that simplifying of people and situations that I feel I am able to be understanding in my assessments and formulate the best way to process whatever I am being presented with.
This part of my makeup is also partnered with the fact that I feel very deeply. Whatever I am experiencing, I feel it to the fullest extent of the emotion. This can be amazing when I am happy, but this can also be awful when I am sad or angry. Still, I have come to recognize and accept that this is a part of what makes me who I am. I say this all to say that recently I began to break down an attribute we all clammer so desperately to perpetuate: strength.
I began to notice a common behavior amongst myself and some of my loved ones. It was this constant practice of being "on guard". I will be the first to say that it's 2015, we live in crazy, unpredictable times. With all the violence and lack of empathy we witness in the headlines daily, it is easy to understand why most of us feel like we have to be on the constant defense. We have to be "strong". Couple that with the fact that we live in a social media age, where the majority of us only share the "highlights" of our lives; no one wants to be hurting, scared, defeated, vulnerable, etc. It is as if there is something shameful in going through hardships. So we do everything in our power to avoid these feelings.
I have come to the realization that by avoiding hurt, you are avoiding LIFE.
Many will not want to hear this; but pain in life is inevitable. But so is joy. Yes, there is a lot of negativity in the world, but there is also a lot of joy. Everything has balance, there is no positive without a negative and vice versa. I am of the mindset that we are all connected, and that my life is not simply about me. I never know how what I may experience affects ripples of others surrounding me. I've began to notice in myself as well as others that we make a lot of "defensive" decisions. How many times have you expected something to be wrong so you can exit a situation? Perhaps expected is too negative; let's simply say if something were to go awry that we would not be surprised? This can be with jobs, friendships, relationships. We are so on the defense all the time, that we don't take a moment to actually enjoy what we have been given, to express gratitude for that present gift, to love it fully and be happy. This is a travesty to me.
I express all this not to say that life is perfect all the time. Yet I think accepting that perfection does not exist is vital in letting your armor down and beginning to be free. This is where my analyzing comes into play. I believe that what I see and experience on the surface is not always what something truly is. There is always a reason behind everything, and true compassion begs us to try to understand that reason. Not just compassionate to others, but compassionate with ourselves. To be kind and loving in the face of pain and anguish; to have the courage to see past those barriers and love some more. To not beat ourselves up over failures or mistakes, but rather accept them as a part of growing and learning as we evolve into our truest selves. In my eyes, creating that cycle of positivity is imperative to growing, evolving, and thriving in the very crazy world we live in today.
So when I think of true strength, I will always tie it back to the ability to be grateful, compassionate, and loving through it all. It is not always easy, but love is always the answer. It bonds us all and only from it can true strength be attained.