• A tendency to express warm and affectionate feeling
  • A positive feeling of liking
  • Warm compassionate feelings
  • A feeling of concern for the welfare of someone (especially someone defenceless)

Most of us think of tenderness as the way we are with a partner we are in love with. We caress them gently, we touch them softly, we pay attention to their body and their mind. We envelop them with love. We would not let anything bad happen to them. We feel a warmth inside our stomachs and in our hearts when we are near them. But then the moment is over and it’s back to normal life. Especially for men, who aren’t well known for their ability to be tender at the best of times!

What I want to discuss with you here is taking the feelings of the tender moment, and applying it to your life, not just to your loved one.

So what is it to be tender? What are the key characteristics of one who is tender? Someone who is gentle, caring, concerned, or kind perhaps? Someone who is compassionate? What I want to understand is how we can enter into such feelings with the one we love but then switch off as soon as we leave that person, and become angry, spiteful, hateful, jealous and cruel.

For me, tenderness is something we carry with us through our life, and every being we come into contact with, we act with tenderness. When I told a good friend of mine I was going to be writing about tenderness today, she expressed surprise.

“Why are you surprised?” I asked.
“Because men really don’t know the first thing about being tender.”

On reflection I had to agree with her.
Men are the strongest of the human species, the most violent, the most dominating. They act in ways which are opposite to what women would consider as tender! They can be aggressive, ambitious, pack animals who think being tender is a sign of weakness (the property of lacking physical or mental strength; liability to failure under pressure or stress or strain). But I’m here to give men the benefit of the doubt! After all, I’m a man too, and I don’t consider myself weak because I am tender.

Let’s just put all this down to good old history. Let’s just say it was an evolutionary plus point for men to be violent and aggressive, after all, the human brain was only in its infancy, and we had to fend off predators and other males who had designs on our women folk. We had more muscle than the women, whose task it was to give birth to and rear offspring, so we took up the task of protecting our family, and were prepared to use whatever force necessary to do it.

But let’s put that all behind us, that was oh, so very long ago, and man is a different creature now, right? Our minds have evolved since that time. We no longer have to fend off blood thirsty predators, and although other men may have designs on our women, we can now use complex language to explain that they are in fact with us at this moment in time, and so won’t be going off anywhere! So there’s really no excuse for men not to “let their guard down” and let themselves develop the tenderness that women have had for millennia.

To me, It seems that evolution may be lagging behind our brains and has left us men with a modern scientific brain, and the emotional system of our cavemen ancestors. Still, let us not be daunted by a slight failing in evolution. We are the most intelligent species on the planet, and as men, we can easily learn something new – right lads? So now we know where we are in our emotional development, we can move forward.

Let’s get one thing clear between us; this is not about letting your guard down at all, nor is it about being more like women. This is about all of us approaching life more delicately. The word delicate might appeal to men because its dictionary definition is “marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique.” So let’s look at this as a challenge to develop a meticulous technique shall we ? Ladies feel free to join in on this discussion.
For most of us, we just bash through life, swatting and swiping at whatever gets in our way. We mow people down caring nothing for their feelings. We trample all over the world leaving our indelible footprint wherever we go, leaving chaos and mayhem in our wake, all for what? A bit of success, a bit of cash, a big house?

Will it all be worth it in the few short years you have left on this planet? I say short, because even if you are only eighteen, you will only live to about eighty if you’re lucky. And on an earth that has been in existence for approaching four billion years, sixty odd years is not even the smallest drop in the widest ocean.

So let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Tenderness is a skill we must develop by paying close attention to ourselves. One good way to start the process off, is to slow down. Not a little. A lot.

Take a leaf out of the book of walking meditation, and take each step thoughtfully. Slowly. Taking great care not to crush anything in your path. Try it for a moment now if you wish, just for a minute or two.
Take small, slow steps, almost examining every crack on the floor, or speck of dust on the carpet. One step after another, watching your feet. It may seem like a silly exercise, but you will start to notice more of a connection between your mind, your body and the earth you walk on. You just aren’t going to get that kind of feeling when you’re moving at the speed of sound.

Developing tenderness requires patience, and patience (good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence) takes time to develop as well. First you have to slow down. Slow down in your speech. Slow down in your work. Slow down in your thinking. Slow down in your actions. If you don’t, you will never learn this technique (you wouldn’t learn woodworking or car mechanics if you were doing everything so fast either).

Tenderness is something that makes a man stronger. It shows that although he has great power in his body, that he has mastered himself, and uses the power he has to hold his partner, his child and the whole world in his arms. When a man is unsympathetic, tough, and violent all he has shown is that he has not mastered his own emotions. He is still at the beck and call of an emotional system that developed millions of years ago.

Real power is in picking the most delicate of flowers with the strongest of hands, all the while taking great care to preserve it intact. Real power is in knowing you have the strength to be beat someone to a pulp, but instead extending him the hand of friendship. Real power is in knowing you have it, but will never use it.

Women have respect for men who have mastered their power, and are tender. No woman truly respects a man that is violent, because she knows that one day he may turn on her and her child.

So as we continue along this road to tenderness let us stop for a moment and think. Is tenderness an action, or is it a part of who I am?

I like to think that tenderness is something I carry with me at all times, something that affects what I do and the way I do it. I approach working with tenderness. I choose the job I do to be tender to the planet. I speak with tenderness, to convey my point in a way that shows I am aware of myself, and I am aware of the impact my speaking may have on other people. I carry it with me in my feet that touch the delicately balanced planet, in my hands that could so easily destroy, in my mind that could so easily create violence, and in my heart that could so easily be cold.

So many people think that this kind of love – which is what it is – is only for women; that men have real work to do, like building skyscrapers, chopping down forests, creating wealth, and providing for the family. They don’t have time for this soppy stuff! But men love tenderness. They loved it from their mothers, and they love it from their partners. Men have the ultimate responsibility now to learn this vital skill. A skill which may save us from future wars and conflicts, stop dominance of one over another, and save the planet from being destroyed by men who run businesses that trample all over our precious resources at the speed of sound. It is vital we all learn this. I cannot stress this enough.

When a man has mastered himself, and is concerned for the welfare of others, above his own personal wants and desires, then the world will truly be a special place to be.
Imagine a world where men approached each task delicately. Imagine, you, as a man, being able to be tender with everything in this world, not just your closest loved one. Take this tenderness with you, everywhere you go, feel its power in your fingertips, and in your mind.

You are on the road to self-mastery. But first, you have to slow down.

by alan macmillan orr

“The natural mind – waking up”



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