Day 322 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I came across this lovely picture today and shared it on my Life with Tess Facebook page because I really liked it. As I pottered about doing some housework, I got to thinking about GENTLENESS as we hear so little about it today.

Why is it when anyone is having a hard time about something, people often say “Oh just suck it up why don’t you?! Or another one I have heard is this: “Why doesn’t he just ‘man up’ and get on with it?” It’s as if the person they are talking to (or about) is a ‘wus” and needs to toughen up and then they will be fine. I have found that it doesn’t work this way.

I will give you another example of  this. A friend phoned early today and was telling me about a member of her staff that she had trouble talking to regarding their work performance. Everything she had tried had not worked but she decided to try a different approach this week.

Instead of being so harsh, she tried a nice and gentle – yet direct – approach. You know the one: where your tone of voice is lovely but you are not pulling any punches either, type of approach! I know this one well because I used it for many years when dealing with the unemployed who did not want to work or were difficult. It very rarely failed me I am pleased to say.

So now my friend has used it and it does appear she is having some success. Do you see where I am going with this folks? There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness” is why this works.

It takes far more discipline to use this gentle tone of voice than it does to come on heavy with all guns blazing! Perhaps we may need to rethink our reactions to people who have issues? Perhaps we could move the person on from their continued “going on” by being kind and not harsh?

I’ll give you another example of this in my own life. As a lot of you will know I have been seeing a natural therapist to help me recover from a few health issues that are not serious … just annoying. Because these issues have been with me for a few years, I have given up mentioning them but it doesn’t mean that I do not suffer tiredness or  symptoms from them.

When I first saw my therapist Anjeleen, she did the usual thing that these people do: looked in my eyes and felt certain pulses. And then she gently took my hands, looked in my eyes and said softly: “you are a very emotional person Theresa. You appear to be a very tough, resilient person, but you are not so on the inside. You are very soft and you feel things deeply. It affects your health.”

Well my friends, tears welled up in my eyes. She had nailed me in one! I felt accepted, understood and loved all in one go. I left that meeting as if I was walking on clouds. I knew this ‘thing’ about myself but the fact that she knew it and thought I was just fine as I was, helped me enormously. Her gentleness gave me strength. It did not take anything away from me at all!

Yes … There is nothing stronger in the world than GENTLENESS …

You see friends, it is like this. I have spent many years of my life trying to overcome what I perceived as a weakness: my emotions. Growing up in a lively household with  five of us children born within the space of seven years and with me the youngest (another brother came much later) I had to learn to be tough in order to survive in that family.

Therefore a lot of my life has been about hiding the emotional side of myself so others wouldn’t perceive me as ‘weak.’ It is only as I have grown older that I have been able to believe that this emotional side of me is perfectly acceptable. In fact, my reply to Anjeleen (after I had wiped my tears) was: “Well Anjeleen, I AM a poet you know so what else would you expect?” We had a good chuckle about that one.

Another time when I was a bit down and I was talking to her during my visit, she put up her hand and gently pushed my fringe away from my eyes in a gesture of caring … like a mother might do to her child. I had never known such gentleness and it empowered me to get up and go on.

Another memory comes to me from a few years ago when my sister was upset – yet again – about a continual problem between us sisters and it was tempting to give it the “Suck it up routine,”, but as I listened on the phone to her hurt and angst, something within me said NO and I found myself saying gently: “Have I hurt you sweetie?” even though I felt I had done nothing wrong.

She burst into tears. Only then was there understanding … and LOVE. Yes, there is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness my friends. I only wish I could be relied upon to act this way on EVERY occasion.

In conclusion, I want to leave you with this message. When any of us feel tempted to come on strong, or to be harsh, perhaps we should be the one to “Suck it up” and use gentleness to convey love and understanding instead. And in the case of needing to be direct with a person, to use honest words that are couched in kindness and gentleness, instead of ones that are full of angst that hurts and destroys.

All this does is make US feel powerful at the risk of making the other feel weak. Remember:


Be kind even to yourself …

PS: A definition of Gentleness:

Gentleness” is the translation of the Greek word praótēs. According to Aristotle, praótēs is that virtue [which] stands between two extremes: uncontrolled and unjustified anger; and not becoming angry at all no matter what [evil] takes place around you.