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Room for Gentleness

Is there room for gentleness here and now? Growing up, my idea of strength was a big, muscular, cis-gender man who shows no sign of physical weakness. This was an image I partly aspired to be while recognizing that this image was impossible to achieve. As I grew older and more experienced in the world, that construct shifted. It became less about what that person looked like and more what that person imbued. Here are some traits that I see as true strength and hope to exude:

  • Awareness. A facet of gentleness is the ability to notice one’s self and others. Honing our ability to notice the feelings and energy of our surroundings or circumstances can help us in caring and supporting others or the situation at hand.

  • Discernment. Knowing when to step into a situation and when to watch and wait is a valuable skill. Gentleness is not rushing in and taking immediate action. Those who practice gentleness take stock of the circumstances themselves and take appropriate action.

  • Calmness. Developing the ability to be calm can be challenging. However, if you pursue skills, disciplines, and experiences that help you slow down your thoughts, listen to yourself or your higher power, and engage calmly, you will be able to quickly de-escalate a situation or get a need met. A calm demeanor is commonly the salve needed to soothe an emotional wound.

  • Caring. This can take on many manifestations. It can be simply sitting in support of someone suffering, taking supportive action by doing something in service to who you are supporting, or speaking a hard truth into a circumstance. Gentleness as a strength does not shirk responsibility or conflict, but engages adversity in lovingly and directly.


Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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