Gentleness? society say's, 'How can Gentleness reduce stress?, Thats not what will get me far in life, I want endurance and strength!'
Well the good news is you can have it all, you can have endurance and strength AND be gentle and humble, the key thing is to use your gentleness as your strength.
I used to think that being a gentle and kind person, I needed to put up with everything, I would take other peoples attitudes, be nice even though I was treated unkindly or how unhappy I was inside. Then I went through the stage of learning how to respond as a gentle person to hostile situations, this didn't always work out too well, I thought I needed to mirror their response and be abrasive, I guess until you have experienced the opposite of gentleness you will not fully appreciate the power it holds within you.
Now however, I know that gentleness is a strength of mine and I have full respect and love for this quality, I have learnt how to respond with gentleness to external influences.
Gentleness is a choice, I choose to be gentle, even though some characteristics are intertwined with my personality, I can either choose to embrace this quality or push it away and replace it with unkindness and belligerence. I choose kindness! But this doesnt mean I am a pushover or take anybody's crap - Heck no!
Lets have a look firstly at 'Gentleness'
Gentleness embraces peace, calm and consistency of character, it is not angry or volatile with the world. It is a strong hand with a soft touch, kind, considerate and compassionate.
Gentleness is a strength and I believe everyone (well mostly everyone) has this quality at their core. Being authentically gentle you are not looking to have power over anyone or anything, you are just being you, at your best, at your most helpful, supportive, kind and compassionate.
Being gentle certainly helped me within both my careers as a counsellor and in my corporate sales roles, it is a great strength to have when working with people or social situations.
So how can this strength help with stress?
One of the main links (there are other links) to stress is found to be anger, have you noticed a lot of anger around you? such as road rage, workplace strops, violence etc. Anger can lead to aggression......stress and aggression feed off of each other and this does not equate to a happy life, if you are prone to stress then this will likely increase angry behaviour.
I need to say at this point that a level of stress is healthy for us, its what helps us pay attention to detail and what gets us out of bed in the morning, this type of stress is normal and it doesnt lead to anger or distress. Distress and anger is when the stress is too much and no longer becomes a motivator.
There is generally a feeling behind the fuelling of stress and anger and often they are feelings of overwhelm, helplessness, fear, being disrespected etc. It is very important to look at the feelings behind the stress and that way you can better understand the reasoning behind this reaction.
Its easy to be harsh and mean, belittling and manipulative, angry and bitter, it takes strength and endurance to be kind, compassionate and gentle.
So how can we develop strength founded in gentleness?
Here are 3 ways you can make a start today.
1) Be Aware of Your Feelings.
We do not always like to confront how we are feeling so we either push those feelings down into the abyss only for them to manifest in different ways or we sugar coat them and pretend life is all rosy.
But the gentle person acknowledges the truth of what is being felt. If you are sad then feel the sadness, if you are angry then feel the anger. Pretending these feelings and emotions are not there are denying your truth, they are neither right or wrong feelings but they are true to how you are feeling right now. Be gentle with yourself for having them and write down what you notice when you are feeling this way, are there signs in your body, are there triggers?
Being aware of your feelings and acknowledging them in a gentle and kind way can be the first step to change.
Gentle people observe the world, they observe themselves, other people, their environments and reflecting on these and their responses is an important part of learning and growing. The more knowledge the more understanding, therefore the more control you will have.
2) Giving yourself Permission to Care.
Allow yourself to care for YOU! Your health and wellness are important, caring for your own well-being helps you with feelings of stress, being gentle with yourself, acknowledging that you have value and its okay to make yourself a priority. If you fail to practice self-care you run the risk of overwhelm and all of the other feelings that feed and contribute to stress.
It is NOT selfish to make yourself a priority, it is treating yourself with gentleness. You will find that when you are happier within yourself, gentleness will shine like a beacon to yourself and others.
3) Embrace Choice.
Gentle people embrace their ability of choice rather than their reaction.
There is an area that falls inbetween the stimulus and response.....and that is choice. You can either choose to react to stress or identify the intention behind it and respond from a gentle space.
Gentleness has insight to be able to know and decide what the implications of the reaction will be. You can tap into your patience, your ability to forgive, your inner love and not allow the ego to push you or to react in a defensive manner and rule you. It means you can tap into the area of your potential, your limitless potential, this is the area that will stop you from holding yourself back in success and your self sabotaging limiting beliefs and thought processes telling you that you need to react this way as it is the only way you've ever reacted.
Life doesnt have to be stressful or hard, but it will be if you choose for it to be.
Its time for change - be gentle.
Being gentle is a muscle that you have to strengthen, just like confidence it is a process, a practice but once you've endured and toned that muscle you will appreciate the depth of your own awareness and strength of gentleness.
Now its over to you: Do you see gentleness as a strength?
Here are a few quick tips for managing stress:
- Get creative
- Yoga, deep breathing, relaxation
Enjoy your stress free day - let me know how you get on in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.