Does Gentleness Elude You?
Are you overly aggressive or assertive? If so, then assess your behavior to make positive change. Truthfulness and self-awareness are at the heart of this assessment. Be honest with yourself. Expressions of aggressive behavior are emotionally based, not reason based; where decisions and reactions stem from emotion, not facts. One needs to determine the underlying cause for reacting with emotion rather than reason.
How many times have you heard Dr. Phil say to someone, “How’s that been working for you?” He knows that aggressive/overly-assertive behavior does not produce wanted results.
Gentleness requires use of reason, rather than emotion, to change unwanted behavior. It requires patience and tact, where one’s voice and words exhibit a gentle, calm, measured tone.
Gentleness requires us to listen more closely to another’s opinions before forming judgments. We need to try to understand where the other person’s opinions stem from, and act with compassion and respect, even if we disagree.
Aiming for Gentleness
Saint Francis de Sales said that gentleness must start with ourselves, expand to our family and then reach outward to our community. Therefore, when aiming for gentleness, start with yourself. Heed these words from Saint Francis de Sales, taken from Philothea or An Introduction to a Devout Life:
Therefore, when your heart has fallen, raise it gently, humbling yourself greatly before God, and acknowledging your fault, but without marveling at your fall; since it is no marvel that infirmity should be infirm, weakness weak, and frailty frail. But nevertheless heartily detest the offense of which you have been guilty in God’s sight, and with hearty courage and confidence in His mercy, begin once more to seek that virtue from which you have fallen away (p. 150).
In essence, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge your faults. Pick yourself up and give yourself a fresh start. Accept God’s mercy. Continue working on being more gentle with others. If you do, you will learn that gentleness is a treasured virtue to possess.