Confusing Coping with Strength, Sadness as Weakness
When someone has experienced significant loss and doesn’t appear sad, it’s often said that they are “being really strong.” I get irked by that. People who experience loss and tearlessly power through it are coping. Let’s call it what it is. Coping. And that’s OK. Coping is good. Coping is necessary. Sometimes. But is it strength?
If someone experiences significant loss and is visibly in mourning, are they then weak? I don’t think so.
While non-feeling, as reflected in coping, has its place, it ultimately serves to disconnect us from ourselves and others. Only by connecting with our emotions can we connect with others in theirs.
Yes, the distressing emotions (anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, shame) are distressing. Sadness is painful. And feeling our feelings, while we are having them and expressing them in safe and appropriate ways, is a key aspect of being emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent.
How do you come to understand your sadness? How do you unpack your loss? How has your own sadness connected you with someone else?
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