“Tough it out” — Do We Always Need to be “Strong”?

February 11, 2016


We often have a spirit of independence in our country, and of rugged individualism that says we should be able to face all over life challenges by ourselves. However sometimes we face things that are bigger than us and that others’ assistance. How many times have you heard someone tell old boy who’s crying, “boys don’t cry?” Have you ever heard it said by a coach, “tough it out?” Sometimes we are really too sick or injured to do the task in front of us. We can feel shame and guilt about letting other people down, and that often slows down  the healing process because we sit around feeling bad emotionally. Believe it or not this actually affects our immune system, our ability to heal, and other aspects of our physical healing.

I would like to propose that we go against the grain of society when we are down, or hurt, and instead adopt a more forgiving and compassionate attitude towards ourselves. It’s very easy to get impatient when you injure yourself and it’s very tempting to try to force ourselves to do what we normally do, even if it hurts us. This only prolongs our injury or illness, and makes it less likely that will get back on her feet in a timely fashion. If you struggle with small injuries, or even big injuries, I think allowing yourself time and space to seal is a more prudent and kind way to treat yourself in the long run.

You may be saying, but there are times when you have to lift yourself out of a pity party and get going for the sake of others. I understand that, and I think it is good to keep in mind your obligation to other people. I’m not advocating that you become irresponsible or thoughtless towards others. But neither does it make sense to try to live up to unrealistic expectations. Sometimes we assume that others will have high expectations of us, or we have unrecognized high expectations of ourselves. It’s important to recognize how those work against us as well as for. A lot of times it’s harder to be compassionate towards ourselves when we’re sick or injured, than it is towards others. I hope that you consider this if you are not feeling well, and that you show yourself the same love you would show a loved one if they were in the same position.