Life’s challenges force us to harden up. Relationships, work, children, family and finances all combine to put us under a lot of pressure and the way we are expected to deal with these is to develop resilience and to some extent indifference. We are required to be tough. To teach our kids to be tough and with each blow life delivers to knock us down, we need to get up, dust ourselves off and pick up where we left off. The more times we start again, the colder and more jaded we become.
Perhaps what’s needed is a shift in attitude. To become stronger and resistant to the tribulations of life, maybe the answer is that we need to become softer not tougher. Maybe what the world needs is more nurture.
Lose control sometimes
Without injuring others or placing your own life in danger, it’s healthy to let go sometimes. You don’t have to be irresponsible to release responsibility and embrace freedom for a change. When life is becoming too burdensome and the weight of obligation and duty seems suffocating, do something that allows you to release yourself from what can feel like a prison. Do something that pushes your boundaries, something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Take a calculated risk and allow yourself to crumble a little. Be answerable only to yourself.
Get in touch with your emotions
Discover how you really feel about things. It’s easier said than done. Instead of maintaining the status quo and keeping the peace; instead of following the herd and making the predictable and reliable decisions that you are expected to make, ask yourself what you truly desire. Imagine what you could accomplish, if failing wasn’t an option. If there was no fear of being judged and no adverse consequences, what would you really choose? More often than not, the worst case scenario is only in our mind and fulfilling our desires are more possible than we can imagine. Learning to acknowledge and express our emotions freely may seem like weakness in a culture that requires us to be tough, but in actual fact it takes a strength far more valuable and honorable than living in denial.
Soft is the new hard
When you think that a situation requires you to be tough, to stiffen your upper lip and puff out your chest in the face of something difficult or even traumatic, consider if you have another option. Maybe for a change it’s time to wallow in the tragedy of your experience and really feel what it is to be human. Striving for mental toughness may close you off to a world of emotional development and progress that you may otherwise live through if you let yourself open up for a change. Softening your perspective towards yourself and others; allowing yourself to experience tenderness and nurturing instead may seem counterproductive, but in the long run, may reap more abundant rewards. You may feel sadness more intensely, or anger. Disappointment, fear, grief. The flip side is you may discover joy like you’ve never allowed yourself to feel before. You may laugh harder, feel more inspired, encounter wonder and awe at things you previously took for granted.
Tough is just bravado. Softening up is a new normal you should try.