Softness Always Overcomes Hardness

Mar 14, 2018

I have been repeating the words, “softness always overcomes hardness” in my classes lately. Reminding students that softness begins with us, having kindness and compassion for ourselves first, then it can naturally move outwardly onto others.

Another saying that has been repetitive in my mind as of late is, “We teach what we most need to learn.” Ouch, this is so true for me, as I was reminded by my Sifu [teacher] this past week, that I need to let go of always being strong …for myself, my daughter, my students, family, etc.

As I was listening to him continue to share his wise words with me via phone, the tears began to flow and pour out of me. He reminded me that “this” is what I need to be doing, letting it out, letting it flow and BE with whatever it is…

You see these past few weeks, I have been crying a little [more like a lot] every day. March 20 would have been my 14th anniversary—but not this year—this year it just the first day of Spring.

The tears that have been flowing are cleansing as they soften me at the same time. A dear intuitive friend reminded me, “You are grieving for yourself, for him, for your daughter, for the end of your marriage and the end of your life as you thought it would be.”

Letting go is also a layer of softness, releasing the anger, the disappointment, the “should haves” and leaning into the possibilities of a new future. I have been given this opportunity to dream another dream, to transform myself.

I know I am not the person I was before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my conscious transformation began more than a year ago, when I heard those words. It has really made me reevaluate what I desire in my life, what dreams I have, and consistently asking myself, “What makes my heart sing?” My resounding answer is to feel good, no matter what my outward circumstances may be at any given moment. [personal mantra: Everything is Always Working Out for Me]

Does this mean that I am a Pollyanna? No, it means when the tears flow, or I find myself sad, I know this too shall pass, eventually. I learn from the contrast, mostly I learn what I do not want in my life, which makes room for what I do desire. And, that’s pretty awesome in itself.

The famous Taoist philosopher, Lao Tzu, says, “the softest thing in the world can overcome the hardest.” This is something I practice daily … in all areas of my life. It is a process, and I remind myself to be more kind and less self-critical. I was politely reminded of that today—to give myself time. She said if roles were reversed and this had happened to a friend, what would you say to her? I thought to myself, I would say, “It’s still new, give yourself time, have patience, letting go is a continual process, you can’t just shut off 15 years of feelings like a faucet. One day it will be better, but maybe not today.” Now, I need to take that advice and treat myself as I would a dear friend.

I leave you today with words to ponder from the classic Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

Chapter 78

Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

[translated by Stephen Mitchell]



photo credit: Ray Hennessy @


  1. Thank you Toni for these powerful and soothing words at this year’s Spring-time. How grateful I am to be going through this transition with dear friends like you by my side. I never thought of myself as gardner, however, now I want to acknowledge the power within me to plant new seeds for growth. See you soon

    • Dear Rebecca, I can say the same thing about you, it is friends that assist us through the transitions of our lives. May we all plants new powerful seeds within ourselves during this season of new beginnings and renewal of spirit.

  2. Such a great message Toni – thanks for sharing your wisdom and strength through that beautiful thing called vulnerability. So grateful for your insights!

    • Thank you Heather, sharing my experience with all of you helps me reveal another layer of “softness.” XOs


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