You Are Not Strong Enough. Yet.

You Are Not Strong Enough. Yet.

By Heidi Priebe

Jose A.Thompson

During a time that I fondly refer to as ‘the worst summer of my life,’ something my friends loved to say to me was, ‘You are strong enough to handle this.’

It was an incredibly well-intentioned phrase.

Historically, I’d prided myself on my strength. On my emotional resilience. On my ability to barrel on and through, despite any obstacles in my way.

Historically, the phrase checked out. Presently, it did not.

The truth about that summer was that as much as I liked to believe that I had the emotional reserves to get through it, I didn’t.

I was being presented with a series of challenges that I’d never been up against before. And I had no way of handling them. Using my existing skill set to overcome the emotions I was facing would be the equivalent of trying to paint a masterpiece with a hammer. The materials didn’t translate.

I was strong, but not in this department. I was accomplished, in an entirely different realm. I felt like a befuddled history professor attempting to lecture on astrophysics. I was not in my regular playing field. And in the field I was standing in, I was weak.

The thing about emotional strength is that it’s not always entirely transferrable.

Sometimes it’s present in one area, absent in another. In a lot of ways, it mirrors our physical abilities. We’re often aware of our body’s limitations, but much less aware of our mind’s.

After all – you do not walk into a weight room and pick up the heaviest weight on the shelf. Not if you haven’t been training to lift it. Definitely not if this is your first time trying to pump iron.

Doing so would end up in injury. Injury would push your progress backwards and force you to repair muscles that weren’t damaged before you got started.

It turns out, emotional resilience works this way as well.

We have to start out with smaller with weights – both real and mental.

We have to be willing to do a little each day to get stronger – not to powerlift our whole life in a singular fit of outstanding force. Doing so would be likely to crush us. It would break more muscles than it would build.

And the same goes for the big changes in our lives.

We can’t expect to surmount things like trauma or divorce or death in a single, swift movement that conquers it once and for all. We have to let ourselves build strength as we go.

We have to recognize our own incapabilities. We have to see them as opportunities for growth. And we have to let that growth happen purposefully, slowly. Over time.

We have to train our minds with purpose and intention. We have to give ourselves rest days and recovery time. We have to be as mindful of our own emotional limitations in order to push past them healthily and fully.

You can’t run a marathon on empty. And there will be times in your life where you will be forced to run emotional marathons.

So what I’m saying is, it might be time to take a step back from the ongoing mantra of ‘I am strong and totally untouchable.’ Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes you aren’t strong enough. Sometimes you don’t have the coping mechanisms built up. Sometimes you’re weak.

And that’s okay. You have to start somewhere.

So start where you are.

Start challenging yourself in small ways. Take a giant step one day and a tiny one the next. Have days where progress feels abundant and inspiring and days where it feels tired and out of reach. Have days where you lament over your weakness and ineptitude and days where you celebrate your strength.

Your heart is just a muscle, after all. It needs exercise and discipline to grow.

Because the truth is, no matter how much resilience you’ve built up over the years, it sometimes still will not be enough. You’re sometimes still going to need guidance. Or a reality check. Or a training plan.

There will be times in your life where you aren’t strong enough to handle what’s in front of you – and that’s okay. Not all strength is inherent. Some is built.

And the most resilient people understand that. They don’t balk at their inadequacies, or their shortcomings or flaws.

They meet themselves exactly where they are. They know that sometimes, they simply aren’t strong enough.

But that doesn’t mean they never will be.

It just means that it’s time to start changing. It’s time to start preparing for the soreness, the agony, the discipline and the challenge of making oneself become stronger.

It doesn’t happen overnight. But it happens.

And eventually, those weights – the ones that once seemed impossible to pick up – become light enough to hoist onto our capable shoulders, and carry on.

Heidi Priebe

Author: Heidi Priebe

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Founder. Person.