I feel this is a beautiful quality that often gets a bad wrap.
I have noticed how often I have heard people being condemned for being emotionally 'soft', seen as 'weak'. How often I/we have been praised for being emotionally 'strong' and opinionated (read not feeling my real feelings, numb, not expressing real feelings, stoic, etc). I notice that in Australasian Culture there are many sayings such as 'go hard or go home', 'no pain, no gain', 'don't be a pussy' (I either think of vagina's or fluffy cats), 'toughen up', 'tough love', 'harden up, go drink a glass of concrete', ‘don’t be a girl’ (I am one so this has always been a bit disconcerting as it has always felt like there is something wrong with me and half the world’s population)... There are so many and in the past I have either tried really hard to live up to these to gain approval or I have rebelled and been angry about it to avoid feeling the grief, sadness, loss and lack of emotional softness in my environment and self. If I am honest with myself I am really sad about the fact that 'softness' and being 'soft' is so crapped upon.
I have had some events in my life over the past year that have highlighted just what it feels like to be around people who are 'hard' and also had feedback on what it feels like to be on the receiving end of 'hardness'. I actually allowed myself to FEEL what it feels like. It doesn’t feel good, often accompanied with judgement and a lack of compassion, lack of understanding and absence of love.
I was brought up in a house of 'strong' women. I was brought up in a place where harshness was 'normal'. I didn't even realise just how harsh and hard my environment was until recently.
I have locked my heart up and been hard hearted. I am beginning to feel the heart of stone that I have in my chest and am beginning to wonder what a heart of flesh would feel like.
A soft, supple, compassionate, real loving, Open heart.
That, I feel, could be beautiful!
So I just wanted to ‘talk’ with you and mention that it is worth softening, to grow the desire to soften: to be softer with self, others, God, my emotions, all the experiences that are within me, it helps.
In my experience:
Being hard hurts, me and others
Being hard puts up walls and creates barriers
Emotional hardness creates separation
Emotional hardness creates judgment
Emotional hardness comes from repressed fear and rage,
Emotional hardness causes pain and isolation
Emotional hardness creates a jail that you convince yourself is a ‘safe’ place when in fact it is dangerous, you can’t feel when you are hard, not even yourself.
I feel I have softened a little, beginning with intellectual decision and sincere prayer which has ended up with changes in my heart. It was just a gradual thing that happened and I could actually feel some compassion I reckon for the first time around some issues. It has been through being treated badly and with hardness - feeling this - and having attracted genuine love and kindness into my life (feeling the comparison of these two feelings), that I have realised what it feels like to be around me when I am emotionally hard. I have seen in others what I am myself. It was confronting and a yucky feeling to own that I have been like that to others and I thought it was okay, ‘normal’ even.
I have seen the effects it had on those who I met and treated harshly, it is not love. I have noticed that what we are exposed to as small children and in the environments we live becomes ‘normal’, no matter how harsh, scary and violent it is. I see that while we remain conditioned and holding onto these crazy so called ‘norms’ we cannot feel what love actually feels like, and we act out what we feel to be acceptable. The process of feeling how it really is has caused me to question a lot of things. I have often prayed for more sensitivity and as it comes I see the stark contrast between what I see as normal and what I am learning about God and God’s love and Way.
I was writing to a friend the other day and have included some of my thoughts below from the email I sent as I feel they relate to this topic:
“I realise that when I am 'hard' and judgmental (read don't want to feel or even own my fear, don't want to feel my feelings and want to change others instead of myself) that instead of opening up an opportunity to heal it actually closes, shuts down and hinders healing or even realisations in self or another. I see how it is through owning my own feelings and lovingly or even just kindly talking to someone else about things noticed or felt that this can create an opportunity to heal. I see how fear creates such pain, judgement, criticism and distance between my soul and another soul (I also see how I have wanted this in an effort to feel 'safe'. I don't feel safe one little bit).
I feel the lack of connection, pain and fear etc between women & women and women & men is a source of pain and sadness for many souls. The relationships we have had with our mothers and fathers, other women growing up have not set 'healthy' or loving precedents of how to relate in love, or even be truly kind with others. For me I am terrified of judgement and generally avoid interactions where this might happen at all costs where possible or placate something chronic to get people to 'like' me and be nice to me, sad smile, or just throw fear or rage their way and project 'don't get angry at me, don't make me feel afraid and I will do what you want'. I feel I have used this as an 'excuse' to avoid or treat others badly. I am realising this isn't the basis for and doesn't build true, beautiful, close, growing friendships. It is also not based on Truth as God sees it.
I am starting to feel if we can actually heal each other with kindness and love rather than harsh words and critical gestures this would be a beautiful way forward. I don't feel I am there yet, my old patterns and addictions come up often especially when I feel uncomfortable and afraid, but I can see now the effects of these states and the pain that both women and men are in (including me) is a result of the actions we each choose to take.
I am realising how much and how many people I push away due to fear.
It is exciting I reckon how change is possible. I have so often felt that no-one changes and no-one becomes different. I am loving how this belief is being challenged at the moment and I am being shown how change is possible and that unloving actions can be healed and even intention begins a desire to heal!”
I cannot say how beautiful it is in the soft moments and the contrast to emotional hardness is very noticeable! I wish you well with softening into what ever the Law of Attraction brings you to heal your soul and become at one with God!
* I am still grappling with being in a place of softness all the time on every issue, I am not there yet. I have gotten emotionally hard over the last weeks due to wanting to avoid my terrors and this is what has highlighted (or glaring showed up) the difference between softening and shutdown/emotional hardness.