Do you feel that it is your duty to be strong, and never let your guard down? Perhaps you think that feelings are a weakness, and you should power through life on your own. You like to keep a safe distance from people, and maybe you feel your role is to be the protector.
In this third blog in my series on the Five Drivers and body language, I will take a look at the driver known as ‘Be Strong’. This is one that might be familiar to a lot of men, because it often goes hand in hand with gender stereotypes in western culture. Many women also relate to this driver of course, and any gender may find that they turn to this set of behaviours as a familiar way of getting through hard times, which can feel very helpful.
However, those of us stuck in letting this behaviour run our lives may struggle to connect with others, and bottle up emotions to the point where it becomes damaging. Depression can often occur as we hide so far into our shell. We don’t know how to talk to anyone about how we feel, and we are scared that if we do, we are being weak.
The Five Drivers
The Five Drivers are beliefs we hold about how we need to be, which influence a lot of our behaviour. By becoming more aware of our main driver, we can choose to make changes. If you haven’t read my previous blogs on the five drivers you can find them here, where I explain a bit more about what they do and why they are important. The five drivers are:
- Be Perfect
- Please People
- Be Strong
- Hurry Up
- Try Hard
The Body Language of Being Strong
The great thing is that we can use body language to determine which of the drivers we are being led by. This can help us to identify patterns that we haven’t properly understood, and so make meaningful changes in our lives. So what are the signals for ‘Be Strong?’
- Distancing. You might actually keep distant from people, such as avoiding physical touch. Often you can also hear this in your own words, where you distance yourself from your feelings. You might say “People do enjoy this”, instead of “I’m happy”. Perhaps you blame others by saying “You always make me angry” instead of “I am feeling upset about what happened”. Or speak very generally, saying “These situations can be very difficult”, instead of “I am finding this hard”.
- Closed posture. You often cross your arms in front of you, folding your arms as a barrier. You might cross your legs, or rest one ankle over the opposite knee, creating a square kind of visual. There is a general sense of being immobile and inflexible.
- Few Facial Expressions. Your facial expressions are often also few and far between, so your face appears less mobile. Again, this is conveying a lack of emotion, and an impression of being solid and fixed.
Permission to Feel
Once you have identified your body language you can use it to transform your reliance on Being Strong. Perhaps you have realised that you would like to open up a bit more? It can be so exhausting to have to feel that you must carry everything and everyone all the time, and often, your friends and family would really prefer that you didn’t!
When you keep your feelings at a distance you can become depressed and feel very lost. Learning to be more in touch with what you feel can sound terrifying, and even alien, but every human being has the same needs at their core, and you deserve to have your feelings heard as much as anyone. The world will not collapse if you begin to speak your needs. In fact, it will be grateful, and you will see others around you begin to welcome the chance to change as well.
It can be difficult to make changes on your own. Counselling is a supportive environment to look at what is going on for you and help you make changes for the future. Your counsellor can help you to identify why you might be driven by certain beliefs, and once you recognise them you can find ways together to move forward.