“Strong” vs “Powerful”

By Atiyeh Baradaran
     I grew up always wanting to be the one that was “strong”, from a very young age.
“I can handle it”. “I’ve got this all on my own”. “I am not scared of anything”. “I don’t cry when I fall off my bike”.
𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲?
     Dr. Gabor Maté talks about how we grow up being really strong, precisely because we were not 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 to be Powerful.
This happens for many of us as little children. There was no space in our environment to learn about our power by being in our vulnerable emotions (ie: sadness or anger) in a healthy way. There was either no space in the busy/stressful/painful life of adults; or not the right awareness in the caregivers of the importance of holding those emotions … OR in many cases, it was simply not Safe to be in those emotions- some of us got the message we would be punished, made fun of, unloved, abandoned, or even… hurt… if we gave way to our emotions. Or it might have been, like in my case, that there was simply way too much happening in the life of our parents themselves. There were no more resources to hold space for those children’s emotions.
     What I have learned is that: when we allow ourselves and learn to be “powerful”, we no more have to try to be “strong”. We learn to allow things to happen. When we have to be “Strong”, it means we cannot let things happen; we feel that we have to take charge of them. We have to control everything.
And this pattern carries out throughout our life. We try to control our situations and our emotions. And we become very good at it at times that we forget we are doing it. We push back the tears when they want to flow. We swallow the anger when we need to express it. We override the grief by working more or planning more, when it really needs to Be Held.
     Although this control can give us the illusion of strength in eyes of others, it is exhausting to upkeep. In the long run, it’s very unhealthy for our system. We are invited to slowly learn to release the attachment to that Strength, and within that gain our Power!
Power means that we know that as life events happen, we have the capacity to handle and live them. We don’t have to control them. When sadness arises, for example, we allow ourselves to be sad. We don’t shy away from it. We allow ourselves to sit with our emotions and no matter how heavy or deep, we can be with them, and move through them! I work with this recognition of this capacity within ourselves in my sessions with people.
With the safety to move into those places where we learned to push our emotions back, we gently learn to open up the path for our authentic expression to find a way. In our sessions, the primary intention is always to create a Safe space for people to allow themselves to move beyond the walls of “strong”, beyond the story… beyond the fear… and into the waves of the true emotions that have been locked up and hidden inside for years. All while being held in safety with my full presence accompanying. And from there, we keep holding… Together, we hold the child within in the ways they always needed to Be Held.
And we explore all those places where trauma, disconnection from the self, and loss of “power” might have been stored.
There is so much to be learned from those places, about ourselves and our patterns and behaviours in our present life.
I truly believe that with the presence of love, and clear reflection and support, one can find their own way of stepping into their deep, true Power.

I am Atiyeh Baradaran.

I’m a counsellor with a psychology degree from SFU, BC Canada, and a certified Compassionate Inquiry Practitioner, trained & personally mentored by Dr Gabor Mate.  I am also a Certified Yoga Teacher, dancer, singer & a mindfulness and meditation practitioner, with a deep awareness of the mind, body, heart connection and the importance of somatic healing.  I was born and raised in Iran, and have lived over half of my life in Canada, during this time I have traveled and lived for extended times in many parts of the world, gathering knowledge and teachings from different cultures, Indigenous groups and ceremonial ways, which with given permission I use in my practices, to support the healing of my clients when needed. I speak 3 different languages fluently, Farsi – My Mother Tongue, English and Spanish, and I can work with you within the comfort of your language.