I come from a long line of stoics. I didn’t have the kind of childhood where if I fell, people were quick to rush in and tell me things were going to be okay. To kiss a boo-boo and make it better.
No, I was expected to get up. To get over it. To tough it out.
In some ways, I’m grateful for that. I can generally take care of myself — even during tough times. I default to thinking that my emotions are my own responsibility. And that nobody’s going to wave a magic wand and make me feel better.
But there’s a dark side here, too.
It’s easy for me to diminish my own pain. Not wanting to dwell on it. Not wanting to obsess about something to the point where I could self-victimize, I find my instinct when something bad happens is to try to let it roll off me — like water off the proverbial duck’s back.
Being able to survive tough situations is particularly helpful when I can’t escape them (at least not at the current time) for whatever reason. But this tendency also means that sometimes I don’t necessarily escape stressful situations. Even when I could. Instead, I just hang out in them, being subjected to meaningless stress. On its own, it’s hardly noticeable. It becomes subliminal emotional background noise that I tune out.
But then eventually something will happen where, for whatever reason, I briefly stop doing whatever that needlessly stressful thing was and discover… I feel better. Appreciably.
And every time that happens, I’m reminded of the same lesson: Just because you can put up with something, it doesn’t mean you should.
And if you’re a person who’s used to stoically toughing things out, there are likely a bunch of things that you absolutely shouldn’t be subjecting yourself to. Ones you’re not thinking of.