Do you ever feel so utterly tired of being strong that all you want to do is collapse under all the weight you are carrying and free yourself of everything?
This might look like dreaming of running away.
This might look like hiding under the covers.
This might look like dropping all the balls and leaving them scattered on the floor.
And it’s another reason why women have been languishing for years.
If you have been following along, I have been exploring the politics of languishing.
It started with our obsession with overworking and overdoing.
And our relentless pursuit of perfectionism and being perfect.
Followed by the root of everything … our desire to be Good Girls.
Now, I am diving into how our strength and desire to be stronger and stronger is exhausting us beyond belief.
Listen to this on the Brave Yes Show now or keep reading below!
When You’re Tired of Being Strong and You Have No Choice
In the several months before the pandemic hit, I was at my peak, physically. I had been going to the gym and doing hot yoga multiple times a week. I had fallen in love with Zumba. I was lifting weights.
I was strong.
But as I was building my physical strength after years — a decade, or more of absolute neglect of my body’s muscles and bones — I often felt weak. I felt not enough for being so out of shape.
There were many times when I needed to give myself a pep talk or two during some pretty intense asanas in yoga class.
I was pushing myself to do some poses my body didn’t like — or rather, that my mind told me I could not do.
You’ll look weak.
You’ll appear like a newbie.
And I didn’t dare look weak or lame in yoga class with all the other hot yogis, after two decades of practicing.
And so I did what any Good Girl Yogi would do.
Over and over, I told myself, I am strong as fuck. I am strong as fuck.
Those words got me through.
Over and over in that class — in my life — I began to utter those words. I even shared that mantra with my membership community at the time, who all loved the mantra so much that they adopted it, too.
But, like you, I am tired of being strong.
The truth is that being strong and feeling strong is a part of the power system that we are a part of as women and for those who identify as women.
None of us want to be the weak yogi in class or the one with the least amount of weight on their barbell.
None of us want to be too overwhelmed to crawl out of bed each day or unable to meet deadlines because we are overwhelmed by life.
And yet … here we are.
We are tired of being strong
We are tired of being strong.
Tired of holding it all together.
Tired of being the ones to shoulder the weight of the world.
Working with women on emotional and spiritual resilence has been the foundation of my work.
If ever there’s been a motto in my life, I am strong AF has been it.
Who wants to lay down at the trunk of a tree and rest for a good long time.
Or curl up in someone’s lap and have them cook her a meal or two.
Who wants to be taken care of … care for, nurtured, nourished.
Strong women are tired of being strong women.
And yet we hold this world together.
That’s a lot.
This was evident from the reaction of my Instagram post that I wrote for myself and shared with others.
And despite this feeling that we are too tired to be so strong all of the time, we push through, we hustle, we strive, we force, we control and we power through … all of which has added up to create a hurricane of exhaustion and languishing.
Suck it up.
Don’t run like a girl.
Don’t be a sheep or a snowflake.
Don’t worry so much.
Don’t be a scaredy cat.
When Being a Girl Means Weak and Weak is Bad
Our society’s infatuation with strength and mental toughness is everywhere — so much so that it often feels like some influencers are trying to manipulate humanity by urging us to try their strategies to be superhuman — to be able to fit in more and more and more each day and to be more productive and more efficient and more rich.
There is no shortage of articles on how to be mentally tough — none of which I actually thought were good by the way, as most are written by men who, as we know, carry a great amount of pressure to be emotionally tough themselves.
And, for most of us, being strong and acting tough is a trauma response.
It is for me.
I learned to be tough very early on. I was an only child of teenage parents. I ran the woods as a free spirit. I was tough the second I came out of the womb.
In fact, I have few memories of my father — who I have been estranged from for 40 years — and one of them was when I was crying after my bedtime because my one and only precious aunt had been in a motorcycle accident. I wanted to be at the hospital with her and my mom who had just left to see her. Rather than console me, he locked me in my bedroom and put a fan in front of the door. I remember crying and crying and banging on the door. He never did let me out.
Just be tough.
Be strong AF.
Suck it up.
The pressure and politics of being human forces us to be strong and to work toward being stronger and stronger.
Because being weak is not acceptable — even when we’re are tired of being strong.
I even find myself feeling conflicted about this in parenting my own daughters while questioning when they are being too sensitive, too tired, too weak, too unmotivated.
I’ve talked about this line between asking our children to be perfect vs. striving for excellence if we don’t want to raise children who are perfectionists or who feel not enough.
Well, here we are again with a similar conundrum. Do we want to raise strong, resilient kids or do we want to honor their moments of feeling weak and their emotions?
Of course, it’s a both/and scenario like most things required of us as parents and as human beings.
Every single one of my clients has expressed how in their own childhood they weren’t allowed to be weak or sensitive and how that has influenced their work ethic and their inability to soften and rest and allow themselves to be weak. They’ve shared with me that there was no space for crying. There was no space for emotions. There was certainly no space for being weak, for being soft, for being a feeler.
And they wished there had been.
While there is a shift happening in gender norms and expectations, there is still a huge emphasis for ALL of us to be strong.
Be stronger, in fact, seems to be the message. Handle more. Carry more. Do more.
And yet, women, for a long time, have been the definition of weakness.
As a result, we have been trying to prove our strength. We are working more, earning more, juggling more and trying to look perfect while we do it all.
To the point of overworking and overdoing.
To the point of perfectionism.
To the point of being Good Girls.
In a Pew Research survey that asked people to use words to describe men and women, the evidence is clear that gender stereotypes affect how we see women — and, as a result, how we see ourselves.
The primary word used to describe women was beautiful. Other words used to describe women more than men? Kind, responsible (ie: good girls), caring and compassionate.
Words used for men: leadership, powerful, ambitious, and strong. In fact, Americans are much more likely to use the word “powerful” in a positive way to describe men (67% positive) than women (92% negative).”
In fact, strength was commonly used for men and was not for women.
So there you go, ladies.
You don’t need to be so strong.
No one’s expecting you to be.
And yet, most women are the strongest people I know.
Permission to Embrace Being Strong AND Soft
When we feel overwhelmed or in over our heads in a project or in our lives, the last thing we want to do is ask for help — or even suggest that we need help.
This is what it means to be strong AF.
We don’t want to be weak. We don’t want to have to ask for help or rely on others.
We absolutely don’t want to hold all of this weight of the world, we don’t want to carry all of the load, we don’t want to feel like we have to keep it all together.
We don’t want the pressure to earn a higher income, get more likes on social media, network with more and more people, attend all the social and political and community events being held, keep a perfect house, raise perfect children, and on and on and on.
We want to be.
We want to feel joy.
We want to feel alive.
We want meaning, and purpose, and passion.
We want to make an impact and be creative for the sake of just being creative and serving others.
The thing is, though, we are caught up in a system where we are trying desperately to maintain our status. We are clinging tightly so we don’t fall down.
And we are clinging tightly trying to get to the top.
And all we ever really do is feel exhausted from the trying.
What if we just surrendered and allowed ourselves to be weak, to fail, to fall, to mess up, to drop the balls, to not be so fucking liked so much?
Being strong is something we shove down like bad tasting medicine. We just do it because that’s what we do. We have no choice. We are afraid of what’s on the other side.
The thing is, though, when we reach out for help it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It’s a way to empower ourselves and free our inner world up for more light, more joy, more freedom.
For a long time, I let my own pillars of strength falter and crumble because I didn’t reach out.
But resentment and loneliness grows in isolation.
And when I am weak, I make the whole system for women weaker.
Finding a Balance of Strong and Soft
When I work with a woman who is ready to unearth her courage, authenticity and life’s purpose, we always work on building and cultivating what I call unshakeable resilience.
And to do that, we work on her energy balance.
My Energy Boost Pillars involve a technique that helps you balance your feminine and masculine energies. We do this through helping you figure out where you find flow and understanding what brings you energy and what zaps your energy.
We do this by helping you be strong AND soft.
This comes from a place of feminine energy, a place of stepping into your inner power and creating a sense of agency around your needs, your feelings, your emotions, your desires.
And, part of it is also being honest about your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities, your challenges.
For truly strong women who are holding it all together this is HARD work.
My Instagram post about being strong that resonated with so many was a sign that we’re all tired of being strong for everyone else — and that we must find another way to power up and power through without feeling like we can’t be soft or ask for help.
We must start focusing on thriving not just surviving and that means we have to be willing to cultivate our strong and soft superpowers.
We won’t want to do hard things — And Yet We Must
I can be heard over and over saying to my clients that there are a lot of things we do not want to do that we must do.
And that does require a bit of strength to power through.
But it never has to feel so hard and so miserable that we become resentful or lose our sense of self.
When you are feeling exhausted and want to stop being so strong, but you have to power through anyway, here are 3 pieces of wisdom I can offer you.
THRIVE AND FLOURISH IN PLACE
We are all doing the parts of adulting that isn’t fun. The kind of things like working jobs we may not love or living with people who torment us — like teenagers. Caring for aging parents or volunteering for gigs that need us. The gift in powering through is that we can do with grace and joy. I work with a lot of women who don’t like where there lives are right now and they want to make a change .. and until that change can happen, we must learn to thrive in place. Sometimes my clients learn to thrive in place SO well that that change they wanted is no longer needed.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORT
The number one thing you need to know is that you never have to do hard things alone. You may feel like it. You may believe it. But reaching out and reaching up for support, for help, for connection, for relief and respite is VITAL. Look at your strong woman load and see what you can offload and ask for help. Look at your strong woman energy and see where you can use emotional or spiritual support and seek out someone who is going to help fill you up.
LEARN TO EMBRACE AND CELEBRATE REST
Our addition to over-doing and over-working is directly connected to our pressure to remain strong and be strong. Learn to rest and rest often. Learn to know when your body needs to power through and when your body needs you to give it a break. Relief can come in many forms of rest. Learn to honor what brings you true recovery and healing.
HEY STRONG WOMAN –> I would love to hear from you. Are you a strong woman who needs support? Who needs to find new ways of creating soul alignment? Reach out to me for a FREE 1:1 Discovery Coaching Call. I will share resources and ideas to move you through your journey to more ease, more courage and more power.