Updated: Jul 14
In a world that often values strength as loud, forceful, and unyielding, there is a hidden power in embracing softness. This power lies in navigating life's challenges with grace, resilience, and inner strength.
Finding strength in softness is not about weakness or passivity but rather about harnessing the power of vulnerability, empathy, and gentleness. It is about understanding that true strength comes from the capacity to adapt, remain calm amidst chaos, and approach difficulties with an open heart and a clear mind.
In this fast-paced and often overwhelming world, learning to embrace softness can be a transformative journey, enabling us to cultivate deeper connections, foster personal growth, and find peace amidst the storm.
Last year I authored an article titled "The Power of Gentleness: How to Find Peace and Tranquility in a Crazy World," and now we will go deeper into that topic by exploring the art of finding strength in softness and discovering how it can empower us to conquer life's challenges with grace.
Understanding the concept of "finding strength in softness."
Finding strength in softness is a concept that defies societal expectations and norms. It challenges the notion that strength is synonymous with aggression, dominance, or control. Instead, it invites us to explore an alternative path—one that emphasizes compassion, vulnerability, and emotional resilience. Softness does not imply weakness but rather a different kind of strength—one rooted in self-awareness and the ability to confront our emotions and experiences head-on.
We must first recognize and challenge the deeply ingrained cultural narratives that equate vulnerability with weakness to find strength in softness. This requires a shift in mindset and a willingness to embrace the discomfort that vulnerability often brings. By acknowledging our vulnerabilities and allowing ourselves to be seen, we open ourselves up to the possibility of growth and connection. Softness is not about hiding our true selves but about having the courage to show up authentically, even in the face of adversity.
Embracing softness also means cultivating self-compassion and acceptance. It involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding rather than harsh self-judgment. The softness allows us to acknowledge our flaws and imperfections without judgment, recognizing that they are integral to our human experience. When we embrace self-compassion, we create a nurturing environment within ourselves that can provide the support and resilience needed to navigate life's challenges.
The power of vulnerability in navigating life's challenges
Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness, but it is a tremendous source of strength. For some, the thought of vulnerability conjures up visions of uncontrollable weeping or the idea that they will lose control if they feel their vulnerability.
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to the possibility of deeper connections, personal growth, and emotional resilience. We can truly connect with others through vulnerability, as it allows for genuine and authentic relationships to blossom.
Being vulnerable requires us to continue to lower our defences and let others see us as we truly are. It means being honest about our fears, insecurities, and struggles. While this can be uncomfortable and scary, we can forge deep connections with others who can provide support and understanding in these moments of vulnerability. By sharing our vulnerabilities, we create a safe space for others to do the same, fostering community and empathy.
Vulnerability also allows us to learn and grow from our experiences. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to the possibility of making mistakes and experiencing failures. However, through these experiences, we gain valuable insights and develop resilience. By embracing vulnerability, we become more adaptable and better equipped to navigate life's challenges gracefully.
For most, the expression of true vulnerability will not happen overnight. It takes time to develop, cultivate and nurture. To learn vulnerability, we must learn to soften.
Embracing self-compassion and acceptance
So many of us operate with the perception that the world demands perfection and achievement from us. It can be challenging to cultivate self-compassion and acceptance with the perspective. However, these qualities are essential for finding strength in softness. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, even when we make mistakes or face setbacks. It means acknowledging our humanity and embracing our imperfections.
Practicing self-compassion requires us to challenge the inner critic and replace self-judgment with self-acceptance. It involves recognizing that we deserve love and compassion, regardless of our perceived flaws or failures. When we embrace self-compassion, we create a foundation of resilience that allows us to weather life's storms with grace.
Acceptance is another crucial aspect of finding strength in softness. It involves accepting ourselves as we are, with all our strengths and weaknesses. Acceptance does not mean resignation or complacency; it is about acknowledging and embracing our present reality without judgment. When we accept ourselves, we free ourselves from the burden of self-doubt and criticism, allowing us to approach life's challenges with a clearer mind and a lighter heart.
Cultivating resilience through the gateway in the heart
The heart is a powerful organ that does much more than pump blood through our body. When we bring awareness to the area of our hearts and imagine our breath flowing in and out of our hearts, we are set in motion a series of powerful physiological changes.
The HeartMath® Institute in California has been studying the power of the heart for over thirty years and has found that when we do this simple practice, called Heart-Focused Breathing® Technique, we enter a state of coherence.
Coherence can be considered a state of alignment between the body, mind and spirit. It is a rejuvenating state where all your systems are functioning in harmony with one another.
By cultivating resilience through the gateway in the heart, we learn to influence our physiological state. This allows us to observe our experiences more clearly and objectively, enabling us to respond to life's challenges with grace and poise.
Over time your resilience will increase, helping to develop a sense of inner calm and stability. Through regular practice, we can cultivate a deep sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.
The role of gratitude in finding strength in softness
Gratitude is a gateway to joy and can help us find strength in softness. When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking in our lives to what is abundant.
Practicing gratitude also helps us supercharge our resilience by shifting our perspective on challenges and setbacks. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of a situation, we can reframe it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Gratitude encourages us to see life's challenges as valuable experiences that contribute to our personal development and inner strength. This conceptually simple shift is a challenge when you are up against a real challenge in your life, but learning to do this, I can assure you will make powerful strides towards finding strength in softness.
If you struggle with practicing gratitude, know that you are not alone. Simply being grateful seems a stretch for so many. The proof of this challenge shows up in my coaching clients repeatedly. How can I be grateful when my world is seemingly collapsing around me? I will be the first to admit this is a real challenge, and there is no easy answer. Like so many others, I learned that trying to practice gratitude is a starting point, and to help you, I wrote an article called "5 Things To Consider if You Struggle Being Grateful" and created a free-to-download "Gratitude Journal - Pause and Discover More Joy." I hope you find them helpful in finding your strength in softness.
Nurturing meaningful connections and support systems
Finding strength in softness cannot be a solitary journey; it is nurtured through meaningful connections and support systems. Building and maintaining healthy relationships is essential for our well-being and resilience. When we surround ourselves with people who uplift and support us, we create a sense of belonging and security that allows us to navigate life's challenges with greater ease and flow.
Nurturing meaningful connections involves cultivating empathy, active listening, and open communication. It requires us to be fully present with others and to validate their experiences and emotions without judgment. By cultivating deep connections, we create a support system that can provide comfort, encouragement, and guidance during difficult times.
Support systems can also extend beyond personal relationships. Seeking professional help from coaches, counsellors, or therapists can help open the door to what support feels like. Joining support groups can also be invaluable in finding strength in softness as you connect with others facing their challenges, want to learn new skills, and adopt new ideas on dealing with life's ups and downs.
These resources provide a safe space to share experiences, gain new perspectives, and receive guidance from trained professionals or individuals who have gone through similar challenges.
Letting go of control and embracing surrender
How good are you at letting go? Finding strength in softness requires us to relinquish the need for control and embrace surrender. Often, our instinct is to resist change and cling to what is familiar and predictable. However, true strength lies in adapting and flowing with life's inevitable changes.
Understanding what you can control, like your thoughts, behaviours and actions, and what you cannot control, like others' throughs, behaviours, and actions, is a strong starting point for embracing surrender.
Surrendering does not mean giving up; it means acknowledging that certain things are beyond our control. It involves trusting the process and having faith that everything happens for a reason. When we let go of control, we free ourselves from unnecessary stress and resistance, allowing us to approach life's challenges with greater ease and resilience.
Life is filled with unpredictable twists and turns, and in these moments of uncertainty, we have the opportunity to grow and discover our true strength. By surrendering to the uncertainty of life, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences that can enrich our journey in a way that supports our well-being.
Embracing change and finding opportunities for growth
Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said, "The only constant in life is change." Nothing could be more accurate.
Embracing change is essential for finding strength in softness. Instead of fearing change, we can learn to see it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Change allows us to step out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves, and cultivate resilience.
Embracing change requires a mindset shift. We can approach change with curiosity and openness instead of resisting or avoiding change. We can view change as a chance to learn, adapt, and evolve rather than as a threat or disruption. By embracing change, we tap into our inner strength and resilience, allowing us to navigate life's challenges gracefully.
The change also allows us to reevaluate our priorities, values, and goals. It allows us to let go of what no longer serves us and makes room for new experiences and relationships. By embracing change and staying open to new possibilities, we create a life aligned with our authentic selves and filled with purpose and meaning.
Seeking professional help and resources for support
Navigating life's challenges with grace sometimes requires more than just our own inner strength and support systems. Seeking professional help and resources can be crucial in finding strength in softness. Professional therapists, counsellors, or coaches can provide guidance, tools, and strategies to navigate specific challenges and develop resilience.
In addition to professional help, there are numerous resources available that can support us on our journey. Books, podcasts, online courses, and workshops offer valuable insights and practical advice on mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and personal growth. These resources can complement our efforts and provide additional support and guidance.
It is important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather strength and self-care. Asking for support when needed is a courageous step towards finding strength and grace in life's challenges.
Summing it up: Living a life of strength and grace
Finding strength in softness is a transformative journey that empowers us to navigate life's challenges with grace, resilience, and inner strength. It is about embracing vulnerability, cultivating self-compassion, and developing resilience through the heart. It involves nurturing meaningful connections and support systems, letting go of control, and embracing change. And when needed, it means seeking professional help and resources for support.
In a world that often values loudness and forcefulness, embracing softness is a radical act of courage. It is approaching life's challenges with an open heart and a clear mind that we find true strength. By finding strength in softness, we cultivate deeper connections, foster personal growth, and find peace amidst the storm. So let us embark on this journey together and discover the transformative power of finding strength in softness.
Dave is a Leadership and Life Coach living in Steveston, B.C., Canada, and the role that he truly embraces is his father and stepfather to four beautiful kids.
Dave’s expertise in helping individuals and teams who feel stressed out and exhausted and that know that they want something different was forged in a lifelong journey of experience and learning.
In 2017, Dave left a career as a Senior Manager at a large Local Government organization after a long journey back from the grips of ‘burn-out’ to start Small Pause Coaching & Consulting. His philosophy about pausing and inviting in a new, deeper conversation has supported hundreds of individuals and organizational clients. He is a Certified HeartMath® Coach & Mentor, a Certified Trauma-sensitive HeartMath® Practitioner, a trained Equine Guided Learning Facilitator and a Certified Coach with the International Coaches Federation (ICF). Dave took his coach training at the Newfield Network in Boulder, Colorado.
Dave also expresses his creativity through the Small Pause Shop, where he designs apparel that supports living life ‘inside the pause.’