This is just food for thought ~ something to think about ~ written with love.
Let’s talk about the difference between being soft and being rigid. What do these words mean to you? How can you apply these words to yourself, your work life, your home life and your social life? How do these words make you feel? Which one of these words resonates with you more? Maybe you are a combination of both? Can you decipher when you are soft and when you are rigid, or are you more often one or the other? Or maybe entirely soft or entirely rigid? Sit with these questions and answer them honestly. Do you wish you were softer? Do you wish you were more rigid? Coorespond these words to your current health status on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
There are so many ways to look at this. Take some time and dig into this a bit.
What is rigid? Well, physically it’s something that doesn’t move. It is stiff, not flexible, hard, and solid. How else would you describe rigid? It can show up as rigid in our bodies, like stiffness in our muscles, or rigid in our minds, like a stubbornness. How does rigid show up in your life? Does it have a positive or a negative impact? Refusing to compromise, or see something from a different perspective, is just one
Visualize a brick wall. How would you describe it? Strong, sturdy, solid, immovable, and powerful. These are just a few words that come to mind. The wall stands tall. As children, we are all taught to be these things in some way, right? We are taught that there’s strength in being rigid. We are taught that crying is weak. We are taught to never back down, to fight, to win, to push, to be tough. We are taught that these are all signs of power, and strength.
The dynamic of being a brick wall is that nothing can get in. However, nothing can get out either. So, yes, there is a definite appearance of strength, of security, and of power, but how does that brick wall play out in everyday life? As a brick wall we are very protected. Can this also lead us to isolation? As a brick wall, we may stand tall, but we may also stand alone, even amongst close family and friends. That may give us comfort on some level, but how does that feel in the inside? What is on the inside of a brick wall?
Picture a brick wall. Now, imagine every interaction with that brick wall being a tennis ball. Everything hits the wall and bounces back. Yes, you might think, success!! Nothing effected the wall!! But nothing can enter the wall either. Everything stops as soon as it makes contact with the wall. So, where does that leave your relationships, communication with co-workers, or communication with anyone really? Think about it. How does it feel to be a wall? There is a clear sense of safety in being a wall. There may be times where you need to be a wall, but is it a temporary need or a constant way of living? Again, be honest with yourself and see where it may be good and where is may be not so good. Does your anxiety come from being a wall? Everyone will have a different answer to this question, but it’s a good question to ask yourself.
Now let’s think about the word soft. What comes to mind? Physically, soft is something that may have a lot of give. It’s squishy, more malleable in texture, and perhaps can be seen as, easy to manipulate, or push around. Now, emotionally what does the word soft mean to you? Maybe it means, a crybaby, too emotional, someone weak, or not able to stand up for themselves. Perhaps that could even equate to, not confident, not competent, or not worthy. As we said earlier, we are taught that softness often coincides with weakness. Sometimes people that cry get made fun of. Did you ever notice how people often hide their tears, because they feel ashamed to show them. So many times, soft is perceived at weak, just like rigid is perceived as strong.
The dynamic of being soft is that things are able to flow and move. Emotions can get past the front door and felt. Yes, that leaves us open to good feelings and bad feelings, but there’s movement and that becomes an interactive play. When we are soft, we can engage with people and can feel the joy of being in the play of life. Being soft is like being play dough. You can mold and adapt to your environment, to your co-workers, and your loved ones. When you are soft you are able to show yourself, you are able to be vulnerable. Well, why the heck would anyone want to be vulnerable???
Why would we ever want to expose ourselves? No one needs to know what’s on the inside, right? Well, think about what people respond to. People respond to what they see on the outside, not what is covered up and hidden. Contrary to popular belief, there is so much strength in being soft. There's also a lot involved with being soft. Softness requires an understanding of boundaries in all directions.
Let’s break this down. Take a rigid wall, what is penetrating through that wall? Only what that person allows, if anything, right? Well, again, that may sound like the answer to everything. Just wall up, call the shots, and stay in control, and carry on! It’s like the movie Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts is telling Richard Gear, “I say who, I say when, I say how much!” Bang, she thought she laid down the law for this guy, totally in denial of her feelings. Now, in this case she eventually realized what was happening. She was falling for him and she was able to surrender to herself and take down her wall. We have all done something like this right? We do it to protect ourselves in vulnerable situations, even like falling in love. Feeling vulnerable can be the worst feeling ever! Does it have to be the worst feeling ever? Imagine how many people live like this every single day in every single life scenario? What do they feel? How do they communicate? What are their life experiences like? Is this living or existing? Think about it. So now let's take the element of water and compare it to a brick wall. Water is fluid, it can mix with other substances, it can change temperature, and it always finds a way to travel. Think of the ocean. It's the strongest force on the planet, because it has the ability to move and flow. Think about how much strength it requires to be soft. Think about how much strength it requires to be vulnerable. Allowing yourself to be seen, by yourself and by others, takes ton of strength and softness. Now, think about how much strength it takes to be a wall. Compare the energy of each quality.
So, let's get into this a little deeper. As we said, it takes a lot of work to be soft and strong. We have to constantly decide what to take in and what not to take in. The wall on the other hand, doesn't have to do this intense work, because it's static at all times. However, through softness we can feel, we can experience, and we can engage. The wall doesn't experience this. The tricky part about softness is knowing what to allow in, when to allow it in, and how much to allow in. This is where the vulnerable thing comes into play because it can feel scary, raw and dangerous, because we have no idea how to navigate this. This takes a lot of work, practice, and discipline, but the benefit of doing this work is remarkable, if you are interested in doing it. The wall is always an option, just as much as choosing softness is. It all boils down to how you want to live.
So, let’s keep going. What’s happening on the rigid end? Well, they are standing tall but what else is happening? Nothing much, right? There’s no room for anything here, no room for change, no room for growth, no room for evolving, and absolutely no room for love. However, they are solid and in one piece, and stay as they are. On one hand, it’s easy to be a wall because all that’s needed is to be a wall. There’s nothing else that’s expected. The outcomes are pretty much all determined, and so is everything in between for the most part. A wall can only go up or down, because nothing can go through.
On the other end of this spectrum, we have soft. So, this is the playdough side. The side where things can flow, change, evolve, and reshape. There’s play here because things can go through. The big challenge on this end is how do you trust yourself enough to be soft? How do you know how soft to be, when to be softer, how to let yourself be soft without feeling scared, and how to feel soft and strong? Does it feel safe for you to be soft? The questions that come up in this scenario are endless. Endless questions also lead to endless possibilities. The potential for expansion is massive, and the potential for pain is also massive. How do you view this? Just the thought of this may make a person want to put that wall up. Does this make you run the other way? Does it make you say, “I’ll choose rigid any day over this.” In all scenarios of being soft, there opportunity. We learn through pain; we learn through mistakes and we learn through life experiences. There is life here. This is where we can begin to feel an ebb and flow. We are not going to knock it out of the park when we first try this. We will feel pain. Are we willing to go through the ups and downs of exploring life through this process? It is no easy task. Why would you want to do this? What is the benefit? What is the downside? There’s a lot to think about here.
So, the question is, how do you want to live your life? Soft or Rigid? Where is the balance between the two? With practice, we can be soft and rigid at the same time, when we need to be. Where do you find flow in your life? How much work are you willing to put into yourself, and into finding out who you really are.
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. This is strictly something to think about if it speaks to you.
Written by Lina Leelah