Redefining Strength

Strong: able to withstand great force or pressure.

I have a vivid memory from my childhood, as a ran around the wet tile surrounding a pool during a family friend’s gathering. As you can imagine the inevitable happened, I fell flat on my ass. I cried out in attempt to seek a parent’s comfort. My Father responded, in a light hearted voice “you’re fine.” I recall a sort of bewildered feeling, not fully understanding his reaction. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood he was teaching me to be STRONG. No reason to fuss or complain, pick yourself up and keep moving. I grew to love this idea, in fact I prided myself on not complaining when I was hurt, taking emotional and physical pain head on and fighting the hell out of it. This came up frequently with health, have a cold? Grab some tissues and go to work. Have a headache? You don’t need medicine, you can fight through it. Have excruciating pain after eating for several weeks? Don’t make it a big deal. I barely mustered up to confidence to admit something was wrong and push the Doctor to do an endoscopy. I felt immense guilt until I saw the result that justified my action.

It was at this point that I changed my idea of “being strong.” There’s something very valuable in the lesson by Father tried to teach me. More often than not you will find yourself on the ground and you must find the courage to get up again and again. But in part, I misunderstood this lesson and misused it.

Fast forwards about 8 months post the painful GI symptoms, I found myself crying over the realization that I have neglected my body so much. I was too busy being “strong” that I forgot about self-love. I have been going through life acting as if my body was this thing following me around, with an importance of a coaster. All the instances it had been talking to me, showing me things, shouting for my attention, I literally ignored it. It was not until recently that I realized, truly realized, what “your body is a temple” means. Our body is what allows us to be here, to communicate with others, to eat, to travel, to eat more, to be sexual, to love.

Now I’m astounded by the unbelievable capabilities of my body and how it functions so that I can be here and enjoy life. I’m even in the healthcare field because I am fascinated with the body and mind, and it’s incredible mechanisms. It just wasn’t enough to look inward and appreciate the true value of my own body.

Every ache we experience, stomach ache, headache, back ache, etc. is our body communicating with us that something is going on. It’s saying hey, there’s something currently in your life that is disrupting your body: your environment, your diet, your mental state, your job, your exercise, or lack of, something is not serving you. So I ask that you reconnect with your body, it is the most important relationship you will have, because when it is functioning well, you are functioning well. I truly believe that when our body manifest a chronic illness or goes into a level of discomfort you can’t help but to pay attention, it is not the start of the illness, but the climax. It has been there all along. By no means am I trying to say that it is your fault that you deal with illness, or that it is all my fault that I am dealing with my illnesses right now, there are too many things beyond our control to say that it is all in our power. But what I am trying to say is that we do have a huge role in our health and we can be a part of the healing process.

Don’t feel that you are being selfish, because in actuality you are GIVING your time, attention, love, and nourishment to the reason you exist. So consider redefining what strength means to you, and rekindle your relationship with your body.

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