We have already shed a light on the relationship between so-called drivers as proposed by the theory of Transactional Analysis and the imperatives we find in Introvision in a prior blog post. In this article, we want to focus specifically on the driver “Be strong.”
This driver may be slightly more common in men than in women due to the fact that the gendered stereotype that “real man” must not show any weakness is still surprisingly persistent. But there are also plenty of women who do not have inner permission to ask for help, to take it slow, or to take a break once in a while.
A side effect associated with this driver is the tendency to be detached from one’s feelings, because they are perceived as a weakness which makes us vulnerable. People who have been persistently taught by their parents to “be strong” have learned and exercised to endure as much as possible and to show no feelings. In the process they have lost the ability to pay attention to their body signals, because emotions and physical sensations are closely linked. This is something a person who features the “be strong” driver must not allow.
Since people who sport the “be strong” driver have constantly trained to ignore their physical signals, they tend to play down or full out disregard even obvious symptoms of exhaustion and stress. This inability to perceive one’s own body signals, however, can be dangerous because of the risk of becoming so excessively overloaded that serious health damage can be the result.
“Be strong” specimen are also usually perceived as incredibly strong and resilient by others, which is why they tend to get loaded with even more work or responsibilities than they already shoulder anyway. What’s more, they won’t even refuse the offer – since they are used to being immensely resourceful. This may work out for a time – until they suffer a breakdown, to their own surprise and that of others.
Since they do not possess the inner permission to ask for help, they will fight their way through life alone and with clenched teeth for as long as possible. The imperatives we mostly find in these individuals are accordingly: “I must not show any weakness,” or, “I must not ask for help,” or, going even further, “I must avoid to be helpless under any circumstances!” Especially people with the “be strong ” driver find the idea of being helpless and at someone else’s mercy particularly frightening.
A client who epitomized this driver had to learn the hard way that his power was not made for eternity after all. He could hardly believe it since he was so being used to manage everything – and then some – up until then. That went fairly well – until it went wrong and he showed all the symptoms of a full-blown burnout. But even at that point he couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that he might have to rely on the help of others, but proceeded to plan his comeback with military precision.
In the course of our coaching sessions (which he only participated in because the company insisted) he refused to allow for the notion that he could not make his tinnitus (a souvenir symptom of his burnout) disappear through a sheer act of will power. Once he finally came to realize that stress symptoms like tinnitus cannot be eliminated from the outside, but rather require a different mode of operation he turned to practicing Introvision – again, in the fervent manner intrinsic to his attitude.
Tinnitus is caused by stress. It has been shown that in dealing with tinnitus the symptoms often become worse when the afflicted party is actively trying to fight them. The more impatient you get in wanting to get rid of the tinnitus, the more stubborn it prevails. Tinnitus patients know that this constant ear noise can drive you to the brink of madness and therefore often try even harder to put an end to it through any feasible intervention from the outside.
Quite to the contrary, however, much better results are obtained once they try and admit the sound. If they are willing to listen to the noise inside instead of going against it, they may experience a fading of the sound, perhaps even completely losing it. In any case there’s a good chance that it no longer represents such a major interference.
To deliver oneself without resistance can be a major challenge for people who feature the “be strong” driver. If your attitude is to take on everything that comes your way by yourself, it’s hard to do nothing, to just let things happen for once, to step back and just observe. And it was indeed an amazing experience for this client to consciously perceive for the first time how much was happening within him. He was even more surprised by the realization of how relaxing it can be not having to struggle for a change, but rather to deliver himself to whatever was happening.
This client made the experience that IntrovisionCoaching not only helped him to cope with his tinnitus, but that he developed some basic inner serenity in the process as well. He came to know an unprecedented level of relaxation by not having to struggle all the time. And he came to realize that this mode of going along with what is happening is not the same as “indulging in his weakness and suffer and whine,” as he had feared at the beginning of the coaching. To perceive consciously without interfering does not mean that you let yourself go, but rather designates a form of inner strength that does not depend on fighting and struggles.