Just a Little Gentleness

Unexpectedly, this year looks like it is centering on thoughts of comfort and ease. Around gentleness and softness.

Through my life, I have not been particularly gentle. Not with other people, and certainly not with myself.

I have a history of being tough. A reputation I’ve earned the hard way, and been proud of. I can push through almost anything, get things done, keep my chin up.

And then have a quiet (or not so quiet) meltdown when the list has been completed, when the crisis is over.

Except… the list is never completed, and there’s always a new crisis.

And if I can only relax when I’ve done some magical number of things, I’ll never relax. Never unwind.

A lot of people I know are the same way. Too many things to do. Too much exhaustion.

And while I agree that things do need to get done, I’m falling out of love with the idea of being tough. Of being hard.

 Softness isn’t prized. We talk about being “too soft” on crime, or children, or ourselves.

Culturally, we’re taught that work comes first. That being tough is a good thing.

We celebrate a work ethic that keeps us running.  We call people that don’t share the same work ethic lazy, or slackers.

And still – almost everyone I know is tired all the time. Exhausted. Depleted.

When we’re working from a state of depletion, we can’t do our best work. So that’s one reason to be a little gentler.  But that’s still putting the work first.

 What if we put ourselves, our health and our happiness first?

If something took two days to do instead of one, how much impact would it truly make in the end?

When I was learning to drive, my mom had me do the math to figure out how much faster I would arrive someplace if I was speeding.  In my teenage head, it seemed like if I was late, if I was in a hurry, surely it made sense to go just a little faster, push that needle just a little further.

But if the difference in arrival time is only five minutes – is it worth the risk of a ticket or a crash? (Not that I never drove too fast, but I could understand the concept.)


 So why is it such a hard concept for me to apply to work and lists and the endless tasks?

If my todo list has thirty things on it, and only five of those things HAVE to be done today, is it going to make a huge difference if I only get 10 other things done? Will I notice it next week, or next year?

Chances are good that getting 10 extra things done from my list won’t make any real difference to my life, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

I suspect if I take that time and rest, do something else that nourishes my heart, or just sit outside or walk the dogs or nap, I think I can make a dent in the depletion deficit.

But I don’t really know, because I’ve never tried.

 This year seems like a good time to start.

 What do you think? How do you balance getting things done with gentleness towards yourself?


2 Responses to Just a Little Gentleness

  • Helen says:

    AMEN! One of my favorite lines from Desiderata is “above all things be gentle with yourself.” While discussing to do lists, etc, with a friend, she asked, “will it make any difference a year from now” and “will it change the earth’s temperature by one degree?” So maybe the things we think are so important and need to be done so drastically, are not nearly as important as being gentle with ourselves.

    with that said, I am going to take a nap!

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