Tenderness is about you looking after you

Tenderness is about you looking after you

This is my first blog in a long time. Such a long time in fact that my PA Debb took it upon herself to write a blog to get the blog energy back into Davaar. How fantastic is that and what a funny blog she has written, I trust you enjoyed it and smiled as much as I did… Starting out with Davaar

The theme of tenderness was created in me a couple of years ago during a supervision session with a group of supervisees. As one of the group was describing work she had done with a client, I experienced a great softening and tenderness in her whole being. When I shared what I experienced with her and the group, the supervisee moved deeper into tenderness with herself. Her body softened further, her body relaxed more. As she got more tender with herself, I became aware that I experienced increased tenderness for her. It was such a touching and vivid few minutes for me. As I kept reflecting on the interaction between us and the experience for both of us, I wondered about the power of tenderness and the absence of acknowledging tenderness in our language today.

Trying to locate information about tenderness in the literature has been difficult. I am going to be bold and state there is a dearth of information about tenderness in contemporary literature. Perhaps, that in itself is a clue: if we are not writing about tenderness, not talking about tenderness, not exploring tenderness with each other, and in groups is it possible, then, that tenderness does not exist?

Of course, tenderness exists I hear you say. Ok, so reflect further – how often do you use the term in your work with clients, or thinking about and interacting with colleagues, or expressing tenderness with loved ones? Do a quick check-in now and respond to the following:

1. When you hear or think about the word tenderness – what presents for you (colour, image, name, person etc……allow your creativity to create)

2. In what ways do you demonstrate tenderness with a client?

3. What factors trigger tenderness in you for another person?

I have been running workshops on the theme of ‘Tenderness – Looking After You’ for a couple of years and from those workshops, it is clear that participants struggle with the notion of tenderness for themselves. I concur with them that tenderness may not be an easy idea, concept, experience to grasp. Then I notice an interaction from a participant, I experience their tone of voice, a shift in their body position and I say to the person – “what’s happening for you right now?”, they pause, they respond, I propose “this is you being tender with you right now” and their body softens more. “There you go,” I say “deeper into your own tenderness”. From interactions such as this, a whole new world of understanding about what tenderness means and how tenderness is experienced by that person (and the group) opens up. Is it possible that tenderness is simply about being with self or being with another in a gentle tender way?

The first known use of the word ‘tenderness’ was in the 14th century. According to the Cambridge Dictionary tenderness is defined as “the quality of being gentle, loving or kind”. Other descriptions of tenderness that I have found in the literature include:

  • a feeling of concern, gentle affection or warmth
  • a pain that is felt when the area is touched
  • a tenancy to express warm compassionate feelings
  • concern for the welfare of others.

I think of the tenderness, the softening that can occur for adults and other children around a newborn baby. I smile in tenderness when I experience an infant taking those first tottering steps and falling down. I sit in tenderness with clients when they share their heartfelt and heart wrenching experiences of workplace bullying, of losing themselves in traumatising and cruel systemic processes. I experience tenderness when clients share the moment they knew that they had made a significant positive impact on the life of a patient they provided care to.

Imagine if individually we took more notice of tenderness. Notice how we experience tenderness, notice how we share tenderness. As we notice, we collect all those tenderness moments in a glass jar. As we see the jar fill up in and with tenderness, we can be reminded even in those harshest, darkest moments and days, that as humans we have an enormous capacity for tenderness. Enormous capacity to be tender with ourselves and with others….. now that is just heart-warming….. and tender.

Follow my blogs on… https://davaar.com.au/dr-wendys-blog/

If you are interested in attending our tenderness workshops visit our Events calendar or email debb@davaar.com.au or wendy@davaar.com.au for more information.

We’ve scheduled a 3 module workshop via Zoom  Dates/times: Wednesday 16th September, Wednesday 23rd September, Wednesday 30th September Bio Wendy McIntosh PhD

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