Over the last two weeks, I have spent more time on my back than on my feet. I cannot recall a flu that has hit so hard and lasted so long. While there were the usual aches and pains, nothing has been more persistent and debilitating than the constant state of fatigue and weakness.
There is a helplessness that goes with such weakness. You have no strength for much of anything — to stand, to walk, to eat, to read, to watch, to work, to talk. You are useless to your children and if you’re fortunate – like I am – you have an incredibly strong partner to do the work of two parents. While appreciated, witnessing the strength of others actually makes you feel weaker.
In our society, it is hard to imagine a trait that we look down upon more in ourselves and in others, than weakness. No one likes to feel weak or see weakness.
We perceive weakness as the opposite of strength. And we often see both as something within our control. We chose to be strong or weak.
But what is really happening when we feel weak?
In the case of the flu, a virus is introduced into our system. This infection is, in and of itself, a bad thing. However, many of the symptoms including fatigue and weakness are actually caused by your body fighting this infection. The energy required to destroy influenza cells actually depletes your ability to do much else.
How ironic that what we perceive as weakness is actually a mask for a system acting out of strength?
This applies not only to the flu but also to what may be happening when people are struggling with a whole number of ailments that some see as weakness – from poverty to unemployment to depression.
The next time you are feeling weak or tempted to judge others for their perceived weakness, look beyond what meets the eye. Instead imagine the fight going on behind the scenes in an effort to get better.