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.
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.
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.
- Sunlight – soft, dappled through the window
- Marshmallow – soft and squishy in a good way (as opposed to the cellulite way, SIGH, no judgment).
- Clouds – fluffy and pink and floating softly in a beautiful sky
- A faux fur blanket – soft on the bottom of my bed, soft to cuddle into
- A sheepskin – I’m in everlasting gratitude for the sheep
- 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….
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?