The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘strength’ as having the ‘capacity for exertion or endurance’, as well as the ‘power to resist force: solidity, toughness’.
The typical images and ideology evoked from the idea of strength is that of physically strong men and women, a steely demeanour, as well as a determined and confident approach. Indeed, in spite of it’s superficiality, many assess the strength and capacity of an individual on their physical fitness or body language. Of course, someone large, lean and muscular will be deemed as more capable than someone with a small frame and very little muscle tone.
Nevertheless, as with everything, appearances deceive, and there are multiple instances wherein someone slight is stronger than someone that seems so on the surface. It would seem that it is the deeper implications of a muscular figure that indicate the intangible quality of strength, or toughness. The near supernatural mental resilience demanded from successful athletes and sports people, facing, and recovering from, countless defeats, in order to reach the top, is an attitude to be revered. It is a level of perseverance that might cause many to assume the individual applies the same, aggressive determination in their interaction with, and approach to those around them. The same unshakeable passion and drive could, for instance, translate into domineering self assertion and leadership.
Even so, too often, the holistic set of qualities required to make up “strength” in its physical manifestation, are ignored. With strength, or toughness, being the antithesis of softness, we can’t help but see strength as synonymous with harshness and rigidity. Though, when examined closely, many would recognise the plethora of values that form it, including gentleness.
‘Gentleness’, a ‘mildness of manners or disposition’, a soft approach without coarseness and abruptness, as well as compassion, can been as integral to strength, to having a ‘capacity for exertion or endurance’.
Complementing a steely determination, gentleness and compassion towards oneself and the people around you enables you to view yourself and the world around you with kind eyes. It grants the patience to persevere through stormy seasons, and a limitless acceptance of what is and what will be. With gentleness, or strength, we can all hope to see the pursuit of physical, intellectual and personal progress not as a marathon to endure, but rather, as a current to glide with.
What instances in your life have you had to harness gentleness to get yourself through a situation? Alternatively, do you believe it has ever led to some form of disappointment? Share below.