The Power of Softness

“Make Liberals Cry Again.” The intention was to bully me and those like me. But there was something else that it triggered inside of me. I’ve been sitting with it for weeks trying to get to the root of what that message truly means.

A friend of mine was on a rant about this younger generation being “soft”. “They’re soft,” he kept saying in a loud, fearful, disgusted tone. “This younger generation is soft!” I was reminded of the hard outer shell he has built upon himself, and I thought of the armor I have gradually been trying to melt over the years. That’s what has been bothering me about this message. It’s the insistence that there is something wrong with being soft.

Our culture has an issue with softness while, at the same time, it worships it. We learn we can’t be soft to survive, so we crave it outside ourselves. We buy cozy blankets and get massages to help us relax. We like soft edges on mugs to hold our morning caffeine hammers. We work out and compete and then do yoga to help us relax. We are so worked up and armored up that we can’t sleep, so we buy sleeping pills to bring us to the point of softness where we can actually let go.

My ex-husband mirrored my transformation from a soft, sweet, sleepy person into an armored, edgy professional when I drank my coffee. He said my personality completely changed. I suspect that the root of my on-again, off-again relationship with coffee is rooted in this dynamic. As I’ve evolved, I’ve wanted to embrace my softness. My fear of being soft encrusted me with a hard shell that wasn’t serving me. My morning joe was the signal that it was time to armor up. “The world cannot be trusted,” it lied. “Better get your game on.”

I no longer believe that strength comes from being hard. As we get older and wiser, we get softer. It’s the ones that don’t soften that became bitter, angry caricatures of themselves. Hardness separates us in relationship. Inflexibility destroys our joints and muscles making us weak. Rigid thinking destroys creativity. Creativity is born from fluidity. Emotions have to flow – yes, even tears – or we wall ourselves off from ourselves and others. Our strength comes directly from our softness.

I’m learning to be compassionate with myself. I’m drinking tea instead of coffee. I’m learning to question the inner critic that tells me I better “man up” to be successful. I’m listening to the voice that tells me when I need to rest. I’m embracing my feminine energy. All of my life I thought softer, feminine traits were a sign of weakness. But I’ve learned that crying and loving and being sensitive to others is my strength. That’s the muscle I’m flexing now. So, go ahead, make me cry. It only makes me stronger.

8 Comments on “The Power of Softness

  1. It’s interesting how a lot of us have reached this conclusion in midlife. We’ve been the ‘try to do it all’ generation and this has often meant that we have neglected our feminine energy. Now is the time to reclaim it. 🙏

  2. I can so identify. The dynamic in my family growing up was not supportive and protective, rather it was people feeling free to run roughshod over each other, to attack each other constantly. When I was just a toddler my brother and sister were having a fist fight and I was in the room. My mom came looking for me and found me in the fireplace where I had crawled to get away from it. I eventually learned to be tough but I also came to accept abusive behavior as the norm. Fortunately, I didn’t want life to be the same for my kids so I was supportive and easier on them and encouraged them to support each other (a mode of behavior with them that angered my ex-husband). But my ex-husband was forever in attack mode (verbally, not physically). When I left him and married John, it was like going from running through bullets being shot at me every day to the feeling of wandering through a bucolic countryside. Ahh! I feel like I’m the person I was meant to be. It’s safe to crawl out of the fireplace.

    • I am so happy for you. That’s one reason I love being single. I feel safe and not scared all the time. It’s hard to give it up.

  3. Really enjoyed this post. There’s so much going on underneath the behavior you’ve described in people; I can hardly begin to comment on it.

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