“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales
In a world that moves so fast, and is so traumatised and dysregulated at times, it can be easy to forget about the beauty of gentleness.
If we’ve been taught to move at a pace that demands so much of us, won’t we get left behind if we choose to practice being more gentle?
I have definitely experienced the fear of being left behind by embracing my ‘slower’ qualities.
I found myself continually pulled in the direction of new-age manifestation and ‘making things happen’, but never understanding why this way of being frequently left me feeling burned out.
I eventually began to realise that the problem wasn’t me, it was my conditioning and inherited trauma patterns. I had simply never been shown the importance and value of gentleness by the role models in my life. Countless years in the corporate world surrounded by men also served to compound the message that a gentler approach to my work and relationships meant that nothing would ever ‘get done’.
It wasn’t until my nervous system forced me to surrender to burn-out that I began to open to the realisation that gentleness is each human being’s inherent and powerful nature.
If you’re ever unsure of this truth, take a walk outside and watch the birds, butterflies or honey bees. They don’t force flowers to open or scrap with one another to make nests. They are each just going about their daily routines, in gentle harmony with the rest of the natural world. They are diligent and methodical yes, but they are also beautifully gentle.
An invitation to practice gentleness with yourself
How often do you catch yourself being harsh towards yourself?
Whether it’s the way you talk to yourself internally…
…your ability to gracefully accept a compliment or praise…
…or the way you scrub your face at the end of the day.
Bring awareness to how you are with yourself, physically and emotionally, and then take a breath.
Can you slow down your thoughts?
Can you practice being more gentle with the way you apply products to your skin?
Can you spend a few moments breathing into your hands as you place them on your belly before you go to sleep?
These simple gestures of gentleness can open the door to being more gentle with yourself generally, awakening compassion, friendliness towards yourself, and most importantly, your own presence,
How gentleness can improve our relationships
A gentle approach can transform not only the way we treat ourselves, but can also profoundly alter our relationships.
This is most evident when it comes to conflict resolution.
I remember the first time I had to approach a former boss of mine about the way he spoke to me in high-stress meetings. I don’t think he was always conscious of it, but he had a tendency to dismiss my comments and talk over me when he was feeling overwhelmed.
I knew that despite his outward demeanour, he was actually a very sensitive person and the conversation needed to be approached carefully.
An older version of myself might have chosen to say something in front of the rest of our colleagues, deciding that his behaviour needed to be ‘called out’. Instead, I asked if I could speak to him in private. When I brought up the issue, I focused first on the fact that I wanted our working relationship to be built on openness and honesty, but next on how his comments had inadvertently left me feeling.
He was mortified, which obviously wasn’t my intention, however, that one conversation completely changed the rest of our working time together, and he respected me that much more for safely bringing the issue up in private.
A gentle approach when communicating with others, especially those who are very different from us, can serve both parties well. The instance with my boss created a new level of safety between us, and also taught him about how to treat me. From then on he knew that I appreciated privacy and a certain level of respect if something sensitive needed to be discussed.
Gentleness as a doorway to the healing the feminine
Our western world has taught many women, myself included, to perceive gentleness as weakness.
If we’re gentle, how is anything every going to get resolved, created or built?
And don’t we need to defend ourselves, especially in the current state of the world? Surely if we’re too gentle, we won’t appear to be standing up for who we really are?
It’s not that we have to completely lay down our masculine qualities, but practicing the art of being gentler with the way we move through the world can lead us to the deeper connection many of us feel like we’ve lost.
Many women yearn for a more satisfying relationship with themselves, their bodies, and even within their female friendships. They want to keep going, but are secretly wondering how to ‘be more feminine’ or at least more in touch with their feminine qualities. They are wondering how to open the door to this mysterious quality that some women they meet seem to ooze.
Gentleness is that doorway.
And it can start in simple ways as I mentioned above.
Reconnecting to soft touch, whether that be taking time to pet your cat or running your fingers over your skin.
Taking time to breathe for a few moments after you step in from a busy day.
Stopping for a few moments to notice the colour of the sky or the sound of a bird.
And most importantly, remembering to be just that little bit gentler with yourself and your thoughts.
Gentleness is a practice and one that takes time, but can have incredible affects when it comes to healing from trauma, abuse or neglect.
I hope some of the practices mentioned here serve you, and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve discovered the power of gentleness in your own life.