It feels good to be recognized for being strong. Because overcoming obstacles is hard. Especially when many of those obstacles are not something that most people even see as an obstacle – like making it from your bed to the couch.
Overcoming obstacles can reveal strength in us we never knew we had, shape us in ways that we never would have expected, and help us feel our power.
But it’s also exhausting. And there’s no question that as much as we love the people we’ve become through our life experiences, it would have been nice to get here without the pain.
I recently wrote that I never wanted to be called ‘resilient’ because that’s what they call you when something really bad happens and you manage to keep your head above water.
Instead I would wish that all of us experience what my advisor, developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, talked about as the conditions that foster optimal growth and development: the maximum of challenge and the maximum of support. That’s where we are pushed to grow because new challenges are before us. But we have the strength and resources (within ourselves, from those who care about us, and FROM OUR COMMUNITY) to meet those challenges.
As someone who is the parent of someone living with a chronic condition, one of the hardest things for me is trying to balance challenging him to do all he can while providing the support he needs to achieve what he wants.
I know one of the hardest things for him is knowing when to challenge himself and when he just needs to step back and regain his strength.
There’s another things that I’d like to say about this tiny four panel cartoon.
What does it say to someone when you say ‘I couldn’t live with the pain’? Or to a parent or caregiver: ‘I could never do what you do’? It’s not like we’re given a choice.