The Power of Gentleness
So here I am in the middle of someone else’s living room with a group of people I have never met before except for one or two. I am in a country that is thousands of kilometers away from my country of birth They have been invited by the host to a presentation on “Becoming Your True Self.” Who is Richard Hastings? They don’t know. After we have eaten some dinner and socialized a little, I lay out a deck of virtue cards that my daughter, Erika, made and ask the people to pick one that they would like to have more of in their lives. When we start the sharing I ask everyone to introduce themselves and say why they have chosen the particular card. Then I talk about the process of becoming your true self for not more than 5 minutes basically for them to get an understanding that we all have an ego (a dark side) and a true self ( the positive uplifting self).
After I pass out paper and ask them this question. What was the worst problem or challenge that you ever had that you have overcome and what did you learn from it? It is a pretty amazing question, but not one you would normally ask people after you have only known them for 20 minutes. The first 5 people who answer the question are women, Malaysian women, 3 Chinese Malaysians and 2 Indian Malaysians. They share about their divorces, one speaks openly about the attempts of suicide in the process. Later a man talks about his agonizing depression. They all talk about how much they have grown through the experience.
We end the meeting with a validation web where we honour each other’s positive qualities.
What I used to think was that it took a lot of courage for people to share openly like that in groups, and that the virtue I needed in myself to ask for the sharing was courage. But now I think it takes a lot of gentleness for us to do transformation work. If I were only able to have one virtue to do the change work, I am pretty sure that I would choose gentleness.
So what is gentleness and why is so powerful? When I was doing my own work on the quality, I noticed that the times in my life when I thought I should be more courageous, was when I had a lot of guilt. Guilt is NOT normally one of my big emotions, but occasionally it is there and I know it is there for a lot of people. It is the emotion you feel when you are trying to live up someone else’s standards but never quite make it. What I also realized was that the other persons whose standard I was trying to live up to were really harsh. No matter how much progress I made or how much effort I put in, it was never good enough. They never had any intention of me being able to live up to their standard. When I went for gentleness instead of courage, then it was like all the doors of the universe opened up. I stopped trying to live the life someone else had in mind for me and went on my own.
Gentleness allows everything that is hidden inside to be discovered. To be able to have gentleness one simple needs to set aside guilt and its harshness and replace it with tenderness, gentleness, softness. You don’t have to live someone else’s life. You can live your own.