Soft is not weak

Kathy Krugerperspective, yinyang40 Comments

If I called you soft would you take it as an insult or a compliment?

Given the title of the article, you’re probably inclined to think of soft in a ‘soft’ way – in other words to view softness as an attribute.

But let’s face it, in a yang, masculine world ‘soft’ is more often derisive – a male describing (or rather) insulting another male by calling him soft is common – it’s another word for weak and even weak-willed. A pathetic, wussy sook. Ouch.

And the sexist connotation (females as the weaker sex apparently) downplays softness and gentleness as weakness. It mistakes hardness for strength.  It confuses brute force with endurance (which lasts longer and is feminine by nature!).

Of course soft has its ‘good’ or cuddly side – it’s YIN side.

Think of the endearing term ‘softie’ – you’re probably imagining a kind-hearted, gentle soul who is tolerant and accommodating and goes out of their way to help. Someone who is non-judgmental and congenial. I’m thinking Santa Clause.

Only the most cynical would call a softie a push-over, gutless, spineless.

And few of us more ‘mature’ ladies would argue against the benefits of a soft-filter effect when being photographed.

Soft is pretty darn good when you’re talking a comfy lounge as compared to a hard chair. But a piece of fruit ‘gone soft’ – not so great. Soft and squishy is not so good when you’re talking cellulite either, perfect when you’re eating marshmallow. And so it goes.

Everything is relative – the lesson of yin and yang and life.

But this  is an appeal to look at soft itself with soft eyes. Because the world needs more softness (expect of course when hardness is definitely preferable)!

First of all, exhibit A.

Miss Yin's knees

Weird I know, but here’s a photo of my daughter’s knees after 2 x 2 hour intensive dance sessions learning a new contemporary solo (I’d love to share a snippet of the actual dance video, but she’d kill me until she’s polished her performance).

I am absolutely amazed at how much choreography she can learn in such a short space of time, and the physical demands are obvious in the bruises and floor burns. Dancing, particularly an energetic, acrobatic contemporary piece, is hard work.

And hard work is good right?! But soft isn’t an antonym for hard in the context of work. That would be ‘too easy‘.

You can work hard, while softening your attitude to achievement. You can work smarter when you soften your attitude and aren’t so attached to the outcome. You can cope with (inevitable) setbacks when you soften into self-compassion and cut yourself some slack. When you look at yourself and the world with soft eyes. Yep, I want soft eyes seeing the smile lines on my face and smiling, not judging.

look within,look withYIN

You can find more strength by allowing, by adapting, by being open and flexible, than you might ever find by pushing hard, being rigid and endlessly striving.

When you soften you accept and allow – you give up the resistance to what IS. And in the terms of the yin yang energy equation, you free up the energy you’ve been putting into resistance for something else – something so much better. The energy you can now put into creating (you might like my analogy with waterfalls).

Can you surrender yourself to the unknown? Can you stop resisting and just trust? Can you let go of fear (resistance) and judgment (resistance again) and have faith in the universe, in your own deep inner wisdom? Can you bring patience to your journey of self-awareness and discovery in place of frustration?

As you ponder those questions, a selection of my favourite (soft) things.

  1. Sunlight – soft, dappled through the window
  2. Marshmallow – soft and squishy in a good way (as opposed to the cellulite way, SIGH, no judgment).
  3. Clouds – fluffy and pink and floating softly in a beautiful sky
  4. A faux fur blanket – soft on the bottom of my bed, soft to cuddle into
  5. A sheepskin – I’m in everlasting gratitude for the sheep
  6. Toilet rolls – I would photograph soft toilet rolls (because let’s face it no-one likes a rough roll) but all I have left is….
    Toilet rolls will always need changing

    Toilet rolls will always need changing

So I soften, and try not to crack up about the toilet rolls. How can you soften in your life? Is it relaxing your schedule, viewing yourself and others with soft eyes, loosening the grip on expectations?
Namaste sign off_edited-1


Kathy X


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Kathy KrugerSoft is not weak

40 Comments on “Soft is not weak”

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Absolutely. And I think when women choose to be ‘hard’ to make it in a ‘man’s world’ it devalues this more feminine attribute even further. It also sucks that men can’t be ‘soft’ without getting criticised for it.

  1. mummywifeme

    Ahh her legs. Ouch!!! I can imagine contemporary would be physically demanding on your body. Softness … yes, I am trying to be softer these days. Softer or kinder on me and my expectations. Love the way you think.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Yes – she’s one dedicated dancer. And it’s funny because dancing is considered ‘feminine’ and ‘graceful’ and probably ‘soft’ by some people when it is very much hard work. And you owe yourself the soft-filter approach – everything really looks easier. When we are hard on ourselves we really waste the energy we could be putting in to just getting things done.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I reckon it actually takes a lot of strength to be soft because you have to put aside how people might judge you as weak in order to take the softer approach that works. There’s a fair bit of surrendering of ego involved I reckon.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Yes I get that – you must be soft or indulgent if you’re not pushing yourself all the time. If you’re enjoying peace then you’re obviously not trying hard enough! All these attitudes just don’t help us.

  2. hugzillablog

    This is an amazing post. I definitely agree that we have been conditioned to see softness as weakness, but the truth is some of the strongest people I know aren’t you’re typical stereotype that we would associate with that term.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I totally agree about how we stereotype and many of the steretypes are filtered through a ‘yang’ lens. So glad you liked the post – thanks for such a lovely comment Zilla.

  3. nicolethebuilderswife

    Um……are we connected somehow? You always write exactly what I need to hear, when I need to hear it! Coincidentally, just yesterday one of our boys were saying that someone runs like a girls, thus began a conversation about how “girls” run and just how strong girls are and actually they are giving a compliment. Well that changed their tune 🙂

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I love how we are connected! And I love your story about running like a girl – tell those boys they should look at how Sally Pearson runs and jumps hurdles and wins Olympic gold medals!

  4. KezUnprepared


    “When you soften you accept and allow – you give up the resistance to what IS. And in the terms of the yin yang energy equation, you free up the energy you’ve been putting into resistance for something else – something so much better. The energy you can now put into creating…”

    is everything – thank you

    1. Kathy Kruger

      WOW – thank you Kez, what a lovely comment. So glad this theme resonates with you. I am very much heading down the path of exploring reYINvention – more yin in our lives – and softness is a big part of the approach.

  5. writeofthemiddle

    Ahhh your daughter’s legs look just like my daughter’s legs used to be when she did a lot of dancing at high school! I love the way you think and write Kathy. Another thoughtful and thought provoking post! It is amazing the variations of what we perceive as soft vs hard. Being soft is often viewed upon as being weak, however as you pointed out there is the term ‘softie’ which is a term usually used affectionately. However, sometimes softies can be seen as pushovers. It’s all variable 🙂 xo

  6. Deborah

    I have to say I see ‘soft’ as a negative. My immediate thoughts go to flabby (physically) or weak (mentally and emotionally)… but I guess it depends who or what we’re talking about.

    I need to remember that being soft is not always a bad thing!

  7. Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)

    Ouch – your daughter’s legs! Softness is to me is flexible, it’s tender, it’s gentle, it’s caring. It’s squishy and cuddly. It doesn’t mean weak, in fact I equate softness – pliability – with strength. But maybe I’m weird that way 😉

    Visiting from #teamIBOT x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Not at all weird Janet – just looking on the positive side of things. And pliability and flexibility are important for strength – otherwise things break!

  8. Johanna ~ Lifestyle Fifty

    Soft is so much better than its opposite. I love soft people, soft things, soft thoughts, soft words. Your daughter’s knees (poor thing!) are soft, but underneath she’s tough, and that’s different to hard isn’t it? Visiting from #iBot where you found me earlier (thank you)

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks for visiting Johana. I think we can always choose words that are softer – even when it is constructive criticism. And soft thoughts float somehow where hard thoughts jar.

  9. Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers

    Soft and gentle are wonderful attriubes and I totally believe that you can be soft and strong at the same time. This is a lovely post Kathy and I especially love the fluffy clouds. I hope your daughters bruisers clear up quickly too ouch!

  10. Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)

    Wonderful post and wonderful analogy. I bring softness into my day when I come home and bury my face in my chihuahua’s fur. The love my dogs give me when I arrive home negates any hard rocks I’ve had to walk over during the day 🙂

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  12. Maxabella

    I see ‘soft’ as a feminine word and nothing ‘soft’ about it. So many traditionally ‘soft’ tasks are bloody hard work. Witness your daughter getting beat up to achieve grace and fluidity. That’s soft, man. x

  13. shealaghk

    Hello Sweet Kathy K!

    I’m writing in to report that the seriously lucky bamboo is still thriving – & to share how close to my heart this topic of softening is!

    After leaving my full time position at the Chopra Center after 4 years, I’ve developed the 7 elements of A Nurtured Life to dive more deeply into what it means to self-nurture, both personally & on larger scales.

    The real need for right-brained, feminine balance in our lives, our work & the world of human systems calls so loudly to me that I now dedicate a lot of space in my life – including mountains of research hours – to respond to that need.

    I’ve realized how important it is to have guiding input from valued colleagues & connections, so please-oh-please drop me an email if you might be interested in a mini-study that gathers more data on softening our presence with ourselves & beyond.

    My hope is that our research will one day be put to good use as a blueprint for more compassionate, caring systems on a broader – even global – scale ;}

    In admiration & gratitude –
    Shealagh K – Squamish/Cloverdale BC

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