2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

Lockdowns have us spending a lot of extra time with the ones we love.

Especially during the holidays.

And if you’re anything like our household, it requires a whole new level of relationship skills.

A deeper level of empathy and compassion for the pressures of the people we are living with.

Helpful Tips: Psychology Today

What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.

And if it does, it takes more patience, more compassion, more love.

For ourselves and others.

Emotionally Intelligent COVID Conversations

How does this show up in our home?

Emotional Intelligence: Resources

One approach that has helped tremendously is how I ask to have my needs met.

Not what I say but how I say it.

Same message.

Different Approach.

A new level of gentleness.

Power versus Force

Kindness versus Conviction

The beauty of this 2020 life lesson is that when I am strong enough to be gentle: I am heard.

What life lessons has 2020 taught you?

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65 thoughts on “2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

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    1. So often we (over)give to the world, and rarely leave enough for our own household.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with this Donna-Luisa.

      It’s in our sharing of “being human” we accept ourselves and others, for all that we are. #unconditional 💕💕

    1. Amen Nova!

      Letting Go and Surrender is my daily prayer. Literally.

      Type A’s (like me), need to get out of our own way. In doing so, we make room for something better…

      Your Turn:

      What will you let go of once and for all in 2020 to make room for 2021?

    1. My pleasure Karisse! Love knowing I’m not the only one in this boat.

      What helped shift me was when a a good friend of mine compared “not asking for what we need” to waiting by the front door for a pizza that you never ordered, and then getting frustrated that the pizza delivery guy didn’t show up.

      And I think that’s why we go from not asking — to being angry or yelling about it — we expect people to read our minds, when all we need to do is pick up the phone and say: “I’ll have a large pizza with a double order of salami and mushrooms”.

      Hope you’re smiling as you read this ^ because now I’m getting hungry… for a snack. 😉

  1. I find when I’m having difficulty with others it usually stems from inside me, so I need to take a step back and own it. Applying gentleness to myself is where I stumble. Your lessons are so needed in this time.

    1. Thank you VJ! For your wisdom and reflections on my posts.

      I experience the same thing. PROJECTION doesn’t just happen at the movie theatre. lol It happens everywhere!

      Compassion does start on the inside.. And even before that, we have to trust and believe that we are just as worthy of the love we give – to keep for ourselves. And so much goes back to social conditioning as women.

      Even to this day, my mom will often comment that she feels selfish taking care of her own needs. And all her kids remind her that when she’s at peace – so are we. ❤️❤️

  2. In 2020 the overwhelming explosion of media hype spouting out like volcanic lava into my life has humbled my attitude.

    What I might think I know in this moment now, proves to be questionable nano-seconds later. 2020 has enlightened me to the fact that the world does not need my opinion, just my love and gentleness.

    Thank you Dr. Dinardo for your ever wise words and encouragement; keep them coming; each time I read, I learn.

    1. Thank you so much Peter. Your words give me the courage to show up and share. Wishing you and your family a gentle start to 2021. Knowing that you have everything you need to adapt and transform to whatever comes your way.

  3. What about empathy? Our current political climate is the farthest from empathy I have seen in my life.

    Even a virus has become political. Where has all the empathy gone in America?

    1. Marty, your comment is so good and so needed.

      So much so, that it inspired this video:

      In the last 15 seconds of this clip ^ I summarize how someone asked a question about empathy, compassion, and politics on my blog (you, Marty!) which encouraged me to take a step back and reflect more deeply about the idea of gentleness.

      Thank you for continuing to s t r e t c h my mindset.

      Grateful for you thoughts.


      1. Oh I need so much work being gentle in relationships

        Similar to do no harm from the Buddhist

        Then I look in the bathroom mirror

        And guess being gentle should start with that guy

        Do no harm is much easier for me dealing with others, do no harm to me is much harder

        Entertaining unworthy thoughts, or worrying does harm

        1. “Being gentle should start with that guy.”

          Amen Marty!

          One more reason to blog ^

          We are here to remind each other of our unrelenting and unconditional Grace.

          We are worthy.

          We are enough.

          We deserve our own love.

          1. Nice For me

            I am here to help those less fortunate than me on this journey

            It took me suffering, being vulnerable to learn that lesson

            We journey together not in competition

            It does seem like we hate and compete but that is distraction

            Life is much much simpler than we think

            My best kindness has come from helping others improve, a late life acquired skill from healing

            Many times not having goals, just being in the moment totally with all out effort has accomplished way more than any goal I could have invented

  4. Great topic and video. I had this one character trait that I wanted to change for years but never quite make it. But 2020 really made me correct this in a big way, but there is room for improvement still. But I feel better for it.

    In terms of others. listening, not assuming, hearing, and respecting their maturity and they know themselves us the way to get it right with others. Even if we live with someone, we might think we know them, but we don’t. We only realise this when we truly listen, hear, stop assuming, walk in their shoes. And even after all of this we will never get everything about them, because all our personalities, strenghts, softness, capacities, are different. What we find tough they find easy, and vice a versa. Therefore in my humble opinion and experience, I recognise I don’t always get it right with my loved ones and even when I listen they don’t always tell me everything. So I try to listen, ask the right questions, we loving caring, and read the unsaid.

    We human beings are complicated..

    1. I so appreciate the depth and breadth of your response, summarized wonderfully:

      “So I try to listen, ask the right questions, we loving caring, and read the unsaid.”

      And I do agree! Us human beings are complicated.

      I’ve had PhD in psychology in 1998 and I am still studying and learning to this day!

      Happy New Year Bella!

  5. Thanks for your wise and empowering ideas Andrea. I haven’t tried to walk in anyone’s shoes in a while. Good reminder for compassion and understanding. May we enter 2021 with more compassion and willingness to be beginners.

    1. You’re so welcome Brad! Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect. I couldn’t agree more. I toast to you and our willingness to be beginners – every single day until we die. Because if we’re aren’t learning, we aren’t growing. And just like the beautiful nature you write about, nature = growth + a new beginning every Spring. Wishing you a wonderful and gentle start to 2021. Andrea

  6. Yes..so true..In communication how matters more than what ….
    2020 has given many lessons and the main one has been there is no guarantee in life ….howsoever good planning and preparation one might do…plans may stlll not go as expected …..
    Secondly…..no one is as important in your life as you and your close family…..
    Communication is what holds people together …
    Stay blessed…stay healthy..
    Have a great 2021..

  7. I really like this. It reminds me of a police programme I watched once where the officer was so undeservingly kind and polite to someone who clearly was caught breaking the law. The person I watched the programme with pointed out how the officer didn’t have to do that as the guy was clearly caught red-handed and was without excuse, but his compassion was really evident and the difference it made was inspiring. I’ll always remember that!

    1. What a great example of this!

      So much so that it gave me goosebumps.

      Thank you so much. You added an incredible layer to my post.

      Happy New Year! May you experience the gentleness that you give.

  8. Thank you for this encouragement to be gentle with ourselves and others. Life lessons learned in 2020 include that I can adapt and that there are many good and caring people in the world who help each other.

  9. Oh yes Andrea, this year has taught us many life lessons and also brought us a few unexpected gifts along the way. I’ve actually just finished scheduling my last post of the year on this very subject. Aligned again my friend. Thank you for your wisdom and friendship this year. 🙏💙

    1. Miriam, how blessed we are by these alignments.

      From reconnecting with our sisters on a whole new level, to finding the silver linings in 2020 storms. Australia and Canada united. Here and beyond.

      I am so looking forward to your post!

      Andrea 🤩❤️

      1. Awake! Or aware. That’s in Saturday’s post. I have a brain injury and 2020 really taught me how much I was overdoing it, not pacing and now I know!

          1. I will check this out! I have a lot of brain buddies who had aneurysms and lost a good friend to one in 2005. So glad your sister is here with you 💙💙

  10. I really love seeing how much your psychology blog has grown.

    I love your new profile picture.

    Your layouts and presentations are so beautiful.

    I hope you have a gentle 2021.

    Thank you for doing what you do.

    xoxo MichelleMarie ❤

  11. “A deeper level of empathy and compassion” is absolutely a positive takeaway for 2020. I just hope that the lessons learned are cemented in human consciousness because a little more kindness in the world would go a long way.

    Beautiful post.

    Wishing you & yours all the very best for a brighter New Year  ♥

    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! Grateful to have been on this journey together for many years now.

      You have a magical way of helping people with chronic illness find the strength inside, and reach their full potential.

      I have shared your blog with my nursing students in my health psychology class, and they relate so much to the way you teach and write.

      My New Year is Brighter Because You are In It.

      Keep Shining!

      Andrea ✨💞

  12. Yes Andrea ‘that gentleness starts at home’, how true. Caused me to reflect on my childhood examples which have carried me forward even when the harsh wide world didnt always reflect that gentleness.
    Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year:-)

    1. Brilliant life example of this post Margaret.

      You have been through so much with your work in healthcare in the UK. Yet you have remained calm and gentle at the centre of the storm. A gentleness that shows up in your writing and your later years in life.

      Grateful to have connected here on WordPress over the years. May all the goodness you have given come back to you tenfold in 2021 and beyond.

      Full Circle Wonderful.

      1. Aw, Andrea that touched somewhere deep inside. Thank you so much and for allowing me that reflection.
        Priveleged to have met to on here over the years also. 🙂 (on desktop today so can’t send you a shamrock 🙂

  13. Wow, you really hit this one on the head. A deeper level of empathy and compassion is what we all need for each of us to truly thrive in life. You have brought up some wonderful thoughts here–wonderful insights! thanks for your wisdom and grace, my friend. Happy New Year!

    1. Great question Dr. G!

      Self management and relationship management are different.

      One is about how I handle my difficult emotions. The other is how we handle the tension in the room. (heightened during lockdown!) especially for freedom seekers..

      4 quadrants of EQ

      Click to access Emotional%20Intelligence%20Background.pdf

      (layed out slightly differently in the graph on this Dec 29 post)

      Self-Awareness = I’m upset

      Self-Management = How I handle the fact that I’m upset

      Social Awareness = My husband is upset

      Relationship Management= We (gently) talk about the elephant in the room … we’re both upset.. 😉

  14. Being strong has had a negative connotation for women for so long, which is why I always appreciate positive posts about the topic! Yours is no exception, Dr. A. Being gentle and compassionate, independent, resilient, and courageous IS possible, and you explain it well here. May 2021 bring many moments of love for you. You continue to inspire me. ♥

    1. Thank you so much Christy! For taking the time to watch, reflect, and share on both this blog post and so many others.

      And when a woman like you Christy, a professional writer for several magazines, a blog called “When Women Inspire”, and MOST IMPORTANTLY a heart of gold tells me that I inspire her – well – you have motivated me to finish up my course prep for Winter 2021 with a whole new level of energy.

      Wishing you joy in 2021 and beyond.

      WE GOT THIS !


    1. I love movies! Especially remakes. Now I will 💯 percent have to check both the trailer and the upcoming movie out. Thank you for taking the time to read, and watch the accompanying video. Wishing you strength and gentleness through our shared global pandemic. All is not lost, if we learn in the process. Have a wonderful weekend Steven! Dr. D ☀️

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