You Don’t Have to Be So Strong

By Neghar Fonooni
Neghar Fonooni
Neghar Fonooni
November 21, 2016 Updated: November 27, 2016

I cried at my chiropractor’s office. This isn’t really out of the ordinary for me, considering I’m both a highly sensitive person and completely open to crying anywhere. Regardless, these tears were prolific.

For the last three months, I’ve been dealing with the fallout of my acute sacroiliac joint (SI) flareup, regularly seeing a chiropractor, a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, and a massage therapist for treatment. In a lot of ways, managing and treating this pain has become a full-time job. And while the pain has dulled, and my function has somewhat returned, I’m not fully functional by any means.

(Sinelnikov Alexey/Shutterstock)
(Sinelnikov Alexey/Shutterstock)

I’ve had a lot of ups and down through this process, and while I’ve mostly been patient and learned to dance with my ego, there’s certainly a part of me that’s emotionally overwhelmed.

This morning, after an adjustment, my chiropractor began to posit why my healing hadn’t happened as rapidly as I might like. He’s both incredibly zen-like and highly educated, so I listened with an open cup. 

“You’re gripping,” he said to me.

I was resisting, not consciously, but on a deeper level.

He went on to explain that while I was seeking all the right treatments and doing everything I was “supposed” to do, my body was essentially rejecting the treatment. 

I don’t know how my chiropractor knew exactly what I needed to hear that morning.

On an energetic level, I was operating at an extremely heightened state, leaving my body with no choice but to guard itself.

There are a multitude of factors to unpack when it comes to the mind-body connection, so to keep things simple, let’s consider this: Can your physical body really heal if your emotional body continues to throw grenades at it? 

“You don’t always have to be strong,” my chiropractor said to me as I was about to walk out of the office. And that was it. 

That was all the permission I needed to let my guard down. There was a sudden flood of emotion in my voice as I explained to him that this has been the most emotionally challenging year of my life—that I felt as if I was “on” more than I’m not, and that I felt as if even my “zen” time was forced and rushed.

(Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
(Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

I feel a lot of pressure (probably from myself) to be strong and stable—to handle my stuff, so to speak. If you’re a regular here, you know that I’m completely comfortable with vulnerability and that I strive to live authentically, but the truth is that it’s still very difficult for me to ask for help. It’s still a challenge to risk being seen as “weak,” both in the gym and out.

I’ve been working on this a lot over the past year, and in the process, I’ve discovered a narrative that involves the belief that I need to be strong in order to survive—and that I have to do it all on my own.

Strength and resilience of all varieties are touchstones of the work I’m doing in the world; strength is absolutely a crucial component of survival. But is true resilience being strong all the time? I don’t believe so. I believe that strength is a skill and that not all skills are meant to be utilized 100 percent of the time. 

Does this mean that we eschew a strong foundation? Of course not. It just means that we give ourselves permission not to be “on” all the time. We give ourselves permission to cry, to fall, to ask for support, to receive. 

I don’t know how my chiropractor knew exactly what I needed to hear that morning. As healers, we often see things from a different perspective, and I’m just grateful he saw me from his. Regardless, this experience affected me on a profound level, and I sincerely hope it will do the same for you. 

You don’t always have to be strong—not physically, not emotionally. 

You have a strong foundation, and that foundation will sustain you during tough times. It takes a lot of trust to accept that, but if you can manifest that kind of trust, that foundation of strength will support you. It will allow you to turn your emotional dial down and operate at a lower—perhaps more effective—frequency. 

The foundation you’ve created will support you. Your tribe will support you. The universe will support you.

Neghar Fonooni is a fitness and lifestyle coach, an entrepreneur, and the founder of the Eat, Lift, & Be Happy program,