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Softness is anything but weakness.

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Photo Credit: Shaun Colin Bell

When I resigned from a previous job, I got told that I was “too soft for this business anyway.”

It was advertising, an industry notorious for being hard and hardening people up. I realised early on that I’d always have to armour up if I stayed (which I did… for 3 years — story for another day). I once heard the MD of an ad agency proudly declare to the staff that: “We’re whores. We have to suck it up and sell ourselves to make our living.” I cringed when I heard it. I wasn’t wired that way (I don’t want to be). I didn’t want to sell myself out, I wanted to sell my soul — as in, the real me with my big, fierce, all-feeling heart. (I still do.)

So I kept my big, fierce, all-feeling heart (and my agenda) in plain sight.

I cared about my team, about their well-being and insane working hours, about humaneness, about not stripping people of their humanity and turning them into “just another resource”, about relationships built on mutual respect, about transparency and integrity and telling my clients when we’d fucked up, when we didn’t know what the fuck was up and when they needed to get fucked (in not those exact words).

Brené Brown would say that makes me vulnerable (in a minute, you’ll see why this is a good thing, a strong thing).

To others, that made me soft (apparently a bad thing, a weak thing).

My response: “I like that I’m soft. I think this industry could do with more softness. The only reason you don’t is because you equate softness to weakness. It’s not.”

I’m not sure I really believed it then. But I do now.



Softness chooses to be kind, not cold.

Softness has empathy, not pity.

Softness isn’t afraid of your response to her expressiveness, she fears not being self-expressed.

Softness asks you to stay with your pain and learn from it when, really, you’d rather climb the walls to get away from it.

Softness calls for your openness when anger cries for you to seal the doors, defend, protect, attack (or retreat).

Softness is brave enough to say: I don’t know it all, I can’t be it all, I need help, or recognising it in another and asking: how can I help?

Softness knows that, honey, you ain’t gon’ have your shit together all the time, and instead of judging you for falling apart, she will help you rise up.

Softness picks up the pieces of you that you’ve cast away, denied, suppressed, loathed. And, with such tenderness, she holds them up for you to examine them, make peace with them, accept them and slowly weave them back into the tapestry of your soul so you can continue on your journey, whole and real and gloriously imperfect.

Softness says thank you… often.

Softness is moved to tears… often.

Softness has the courage to feel everything you feel — deeply and without distraction — and the compassion to hold others while they feel everything they feel — deeply and without distraction.

Softness protects your humanity when society is ordering its execution.


And let’s be clear, softies ain’t no pushovers. We have healthy boundaries and self-respect AND we know that our power comes from our unfettered openness.


What I’m saying is, softness is anything BUT weakness. Twitter Bird Icon: Neshika's Tweetable
This is why:

“The perception that vulnerability is weakness is the most widely accepted myth about vulnerability and the most dangerous. When we spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as too emotional, we feel contempt when others are less capable or willing to mask feelings, suck it up, and soldier on. We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgment and criticism.

Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: it’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.

[…]

It starts to make sense that we dismiss vulnerability as weakness only when we realize that we’ve confused feeling with failing and emotions with liabilities. If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it.”

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly


Instead of being hard, unfeeling and ultra-cool, wouldn’t you rather be soft, all-feeling and ultra-you?


We don’t need you to be perfect, we need you to be real.
We don’t need what you do or say or make to be perfect, we just want to it to be the most real expression of you.
If kindness and caring make you soft, be soft.
Make compassion your compass. Twitter Bird Icon: Neshika's Tweetable

Your hard heart will harden our hearts. Your open heart will crack open ours.

In a world where toughness, coldness and got-your-shit-together-ness is valued, staying soft takes courage. Because softness makes us vulnerable. But vulnerability rewards the brave.

Be brave. Stay soft. Feel it all.

xo

xo Neshika

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Softness is not weakness. It’s whole-heartedness. Twitter Bird Icon: Neshika's Tweetable

Softness is anything BUT weakness. Twitter Bird Icon: Neshika's Tweetable

Make compassion your compass. Twitter Bird Icon: Neshika's Tweetable

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