• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Be Strong?

Updated: Oct 24


With my daughter, showing off our "Discover the Strength Within Me" t-shirts!

In the Empowerment Self Defense universe, we focus so much on discovering our strength and learning to believe that in spite of hearing so many messages to the contrary, we are, in fact, incredibly strong.


And we help those in our communities do the same.


Connecting to our own strength and seeing the strength in others is why so many of us fall in love with ESD.


And yet, in my Facebook group, Women Setting Healthy Boundaries, there’s a conversation going about how much there is to dislike about the phrase, “be strong.”


Hmm.


I get it. The phrase can be condescending (the “be” implies that somebody is not already strong) and dismissive. It can make a person feel alone. It can make a person feel like they’re being asked to be something they feel (emphasis on the word “feel”) incapable of being.


And it doesn't offer support. (Here’s a phrase that can.)


So what’s the difference between telling somebody to “be strong” and all of the preaching we do about strength in ESD classes?


So what’s the difference between telling somebody to “be strong” and all of the preaching we do about strength in ESD classes?

First of all, in ESD classes, we don’t ask women to “be” anything. We let them explore their strength, and a lot of other things, for themselves. And go from there.

Boards broken by graduates of the El HaLev instructor program

Secondly, we don’t define strength as not having hard times and not asking for help.


Honestly, I’m not sure how we define it.


But we do make it clear to those we work with that it’s okay not to be okay, and we go out of our way to make sure they understand the importance of the principle of “TELL.”


Feeling pain is part of being human, and we are not meant to navigate life without support from those around us.


Maybe being strong is understanding that our strength never truly leaves us, even when it feels like it has? Maybe it’s about understanding that asking for help is, in fact, a sign of strength?


Maybe we should just give our students the freedom to define it for themselves.


In any case, no matter how we define it, I’m pretty sure strength isn’t the result of a command.


In any case, no matter how we define it, I’m pretty sure strength isn’t the result of a command. Strength, the way we see it in ESD, comes from within.

Strength, the way we see it in ESD, comes from within.


How do you feel about the phrase “be strong?” How do you define strength?

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