We often hear that strong-willed people, who react forcefully when displeased, are strong. However, strong-willed people are only calm and peaceful when everything goes according to their wishes. At any other time, they react explosively and their outbursts can be scary; maybe those who are afraid of them are the ones responsible for calling out-of-control people strong, because they always submit to their will. Headstrong people are considered strong mainly because they impose their will on others, usually through fear of their anger and their ability to create drama.
If we give it some thought, we’ll notice that strong-willed people can only prevail over the small decisions of daily life. They might be able to pick which restaurant everyone will go to, what movie they’ll watch or if the family is going to the beach that weekend, so on and so forth. But as for the really important stuff – health issues, the success or failure of their professional endeavors, studies or investments, natural tragedies such as floods, landslides and earthquakes and the death of loved ones – well, none of us has power over these issues.
This is what makes “strong-willed” people ridiculous: they scream and shout against events that we are helpless against. They react like spoiled children who can’t hear no for an answer. Does this mean they’re strong? Of course it doesn’t.
Wanting to control life and change and influence events we have no control over is not a sign of strength, neither is it a sign of good sense, reasonableness or appropriate use of one’s intelligence.
It would probably be great to be able to control the outcome of important events. But the truth is, we can’t. That generates insecurity, because unpleasant and painful things can happen at any moment. However, screaming our heads off won’t stop our kids from being run over by cars, our parents from dying, and our cities from floods or landslides.
The first sign of strength in a human being is resignation in the face of our lack of control over some crucial matters in life. Yes, because it means one has accepted reality. And this is not an easy thing to do, especially when truth makes us feel powerless and vulnerable.
The second and most important sign is when people realize life brings suffering and they must bear it; more yet – and this is the third sign – they’ll have to handle it with dignity and no drama.
There’s no use in being angry. Blaspheming against God won’t help, either. Being strong means accepting, dealing with and assimilating all kinds of pain and setbacks that life inevitably brings. It’s about not trying to take a shortcut at real life.
People who can’t tolerate frustration, pain and defeat are weak, not strong. They make a lot of noise, shout, are dramatic and even threaten violence. But that makes them noisy, not strong – these two words are not synonyms!
A strong person is the one who is bold enough to experiment new situations, because they understand that if they fail they’ll have the inner strength to recover.
Nobody can be sure that their efforts, whether in the emotional, professional or social arena, will be successful. This is why we all fear what’s new.
A weak person can’t be bold, because the mere idea of failure brings them unbearable pain. A strong one will be brave enough, because they know they can handle setbacks.
A strong person gets on a horse because they understand that if they fall off, they’ll be strong enough to pick themselves up. A weak person will find an excuse – usually, they’ll blame someone else – and won’t ride the horse. They’ll put up a front and posture, but they’re actually not brave at all. They’ll look for so many assurances beforehand that they won’t fall off the horse that, by the time they make a decision, the horse won’t be there anymore.
Strong are the ones who seem weak: they are quiet, discreet and don’t scream, but are bold. They defy expectations.
Tradução: Amanda Morris