Are Kindness and Tenderness Signs of Weakness?By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 06, 2010
Are you confusing gentleness and kindness with weakness? Discover what weakness really is and how to acquire the strength to be kind and gentle.
"Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution."
Over the 42 years that I have been counseling individuals and couples, I have heard countless times:
"If I cry in movies people will think I’m weak."
"If I’m kind, people will take advantage of me."
"If I'm gentle, people will see me as weak instead of powerful."
"Being emotional is a sign of weakness."
It is always sad to me when I hear people say this. I can easily identify with them, as I was also brought to believe that kindness, tenderness, and deep feelings were signs of weakness.
What is particularly sad to me is that the exact opposite is true.
Is it strength or weakness to have your heart open, rather than closed and protected against your fears of rejection?
Is it a sign of personal power or a sign of weakness when you put up walls of anger and judgment to protect yourself from being taken advantage of?
Inner strength is about knowing and valuing who you are - what is good and wonderful about you, what is true for you, what is in integrity for you. When you know these things about yourself, you no longer take rejection personally. You are no longer vulnerable to compromising yourself to please others. You can now keep your heart open to love, compassion, kindness and tenderness toward yourself and others because your fears of rejection and engulfment are gone.
This is strength. This is personal power.
When you have this inner strength, you can cry when you are moved without worrying about what anyone else will think, because you know that what they think of you is more about them than about you.
Weakness is about making others responsible for your sense of self-worth. Weakness stems from refusing to take responsibility for defining your own self-worth. Once you make others responsible for defining whether you are weak or strong, okay or not okay, competent or incompetent, worthy or unworthy, lovable or unlovable, then you have to constantly try to control what they think of you. That's when you might be afraid to cry when you are moved, or be kind and gentle with yourself or others, for fear of others' judgment of you.
Inner strength is about taking away others' authority to judge you and giving that authority to define you to the only entity who actually has that authority - your own spiritual Guidance.
Twenty-five years ago I learned how to have a deep and consistent connection with my personal spiritual Guidance. This connection was so profound for me that I quickly understood that only my personal spiritual Guidance knows everything about me and can define my true Self and sense of worth.
Do you know how to have this connection? It's not as hard as you may think. I teach people every day to have this profound connection with their inner authority. It is this connection that gives you the strength to be kind, loving, compassionate and gentle without fearing rejection, judgment, or losing oneself through being controlled by another.
The key to having this profound connection is your intent. As long as your intent is to control what others think of you and to get love rather than to be loving, this connection will elude you. When you shift your intent from controlling/protecting/avoiding to learning about what is in your highest good and the highest good of all, you will discover the loving Guidance that is always here for you. This is the pathway to personal power - and to loving kindness.
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Today, notice which you focus on more - what brings you joy or what causes fear. Notice that it is often your own thoughts and actions that create either joy or fear. Becoming aware of which you are choosing in any given moment gives you the power to changes your thoughts and actions and take responsibility for your feelings.
By Dr. Margaret Paul