I read this beautiful piece about the life-changing effects of speaking gently to oneself. I agreed with everything, then realised that I don’t do this. It was a bit of a shock to recognise that I often use a tough voice with myself. I may say it’s in aid of recognising hard truths or forcing change. And yet, why force change? Why even force acknowledgement of a simple truth? Is force necessary?

What about you? Are you tough with yourself, or gentle and understanding? Why?

  • Could a soft and gradual change work better?
  • Could you hear the message if you said it gently?
  • Would you want to change if you didn’t have to?
  • Do you listen to others when you feel pushed?
  • Do you respond better to kind suggestions than emotional bootcamp?

That last one really gets through to me. The idea of bootcamp horrifies me. I can’t think of anything less motivating than having someone yell at me. So why yell at myself? Why not whisper small suggestions and recognise how far I’ve come.

Maybe soft and gentle works better. Lao Tzu wrote this thousands of years ago.

 “water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield…this is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Perhaps gentleness allows for more awareness. Perhaps softness seduces a person into change and growth while hard words create defence.

If I’m honest, I would rather hear a gentle voice than a school-mistress with a whip. A kind presence may encourage more learning than a scolding examiner marking my progress.

It can’t be so hard to speak to ourselves gently, with kindness and patience. It must be easier to make progress with a tolerance for the mistakes. Those mistakes are necessary for learning.

When I need to speak to myself gently, I will think of gentle people. Who is your gentle soul? What would they tell you?

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