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Holding Hands Up High



Conventional definitions of “mentally strong” have included words such as tenacious, unfaltering, iron-willed, commanding, powerful, fearless, and other words that consistently emphasize the sentiment of unshakable strength. Being mentally strong has thus far also meant not “wasting time” feeling sorry for yourself, not dwelling on the past, not giving up your power, always keeping your emotions in check, and as whole, being consistently tough and able to withstand the adversities that are thrown at you in life. Anything less would be seen as not mentally strong.


We challenge such one-dimensional superhero standards that make people perceive themselves as less than strong, or worse, as fragile, wimpy, and weak, if they experience vulnerability, fear, and despair in times of challenge. There is a need to recognize the complex and inter-connected human dimensions that are inherent in the term “mentally strong” and that it is neither realistic nor necessary to always be in control, fearless, and tough in the handling of life’s challenges.


More realistically and especially in times of challenge, the definition of mentally strong would include:

Being able to recognize that you are struggling and may need help when you are having difficulty holding it together.

Accepting that it is ok to not be ok at times, being kind to yourself especially when things are tough, and paying attention to the moments that you do feel ok.

Summoning up the courage to seek the support needed to deal with your mental health issues or get through the difficult time in your life.

Giving yourself permission to feel sorry for yourself if that is needed for you to process your feelings, achieve closure, and be able to move forward.

Willingness to be vulnerable and in a state of discomfort in order to grow.

Understanding that it is not realistic to always be unfaltering, uncompromising, powerful, fearless, and tough in the handling of the challenges.

Accepting and be able to work with the fact that you may not be able to control some parts of your environment, life, or interactions with others.

Acknowledging that you are battling an illness, feeling vulnerable, or need and seek help does not define you as mentally weak. It defines you as human.

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