The Strength To Be Gentle & The Power of Vulnerability

The fragile man feigns invulnerability by projecting a hard exterior. But much like glass or porcelain, something being hard does not mean that it's durable. All it would take is a fall from a decent height for what appears to be hard to shatter into a million pieces.

The Strength To Be Gentle & The Power of Vulnerability
Circa 2020, my old apartment in Charlotte, NC

Studies show that around 80% of yoga practitioners are women, leaving only a mere 20% as men. I think the main reason for this vast imbalance is that, from the outside looking in, yoga appears to be a very soft, very gentle, very vulnerable practice, which, for most men, sounds like the opposite of something a 'man' should be doing. I honestly used to be one of the men who felt this way. As someone who used to consider himself a 'macho' man (my nickname literally used to be Randy Savage, lol), I never would have imagined that yoga would become such a big part of my life. The only reason I ever opened up to the idea of practicing yoga is that I found myself in so much pain after learning of my mother's cancer diagnosis that I was literally willing to try anything that might bring lasting relief. What I found through practicing yoga was that even though the instructor spoke softly, even though I was encouraged to treat myself gently, and even though the practice often put my body and mind in vulnerable, uncomfortable positions, I always finished the practice feeling stronger, more healed, and more capable of facing life's challenges, as opposed to weaker and more susceptible to being hurt.

Many men are apprehensive about practicing yoga because they fear it will make them look weak, but ironically, if you've ever practiced yoga, you'd know that it requires a great deal of strength. A much subtler strength than that required to pick up another man and slam him on the ground. A strength that won't develop bulky muscles or an imposing figure. A strength that is much more about function than form. I feel that so few men practice yoga for the same reason that so many men tend to skip leg day, and that's because they are a lot more interested in looking strong than they are in being strong. And it is for this same reason that so many of us skip out on inner healing work and instead outwardly portray an image that appears to be invulnerable and that doesn't need healing. But life, like yoga, will eventually expose those who have taken shortcuts to appearing to be strong instead of actually doing the work of being strong. It is easy to appear to be strong when you are in control of the exercises that you're performing, but life will eventually put us all in situations that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and outside of our control. It is these situations that reveal how ignoring our vulnerabilities leads to imbalances that ironically expose us to greater harm, and how true strength lies in the capacity to be gentle enough with ourselves to heal. While my healing journey is rooted in the practice of yoga, it reflects a universal struggle many people face—acknowledging that true strength involves confronting, not concealing, our vulnerabilities and whether you ever plan on practicing yoga or not, in order to heal we have to be willing to be vulnerable.

Talk To Me Nice Or Don't Talk To Me At All

I would never stand by and let someone call me stupid, an idiot, a dumbass, worthless, or curse me out. I've had several instances in my professional career when I've had to pull my manager to the side and let them know that I didn't appreciate what they said to me or the tone they took when saying it. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the saying, 'talk to me nice or don't talk to me at all', that A$AP Ferg made mainstream some years ago. I can probably thank my mama for me never being one to let someone talk to me any of kind of way. So, it might be surprising to hear that I used to regularly call myself stupid, an idiot, a dumbass, worthless, or worse in my mind. I used to take a condescending tone when speaking to myself about myself, and very seldomly would I talk to myself nicely at all. I really, really struggled with being gentle with myself even though I usually tried my best to be gentle with others. Even though I had the strength to not allow others to verbally abuse me, I lacked the strength to not verbally abuse myself. We are usually our own biggest critics because we believe we have the most accurate view of ourselves - but I'd like to challenge that belief. Part of what allows me to have compassion for others is knowing that I don't know the whole story about them and why they are the way that they are. When it comes to others, I know that perception may not be reality. Whether we realize it or not, the same can be said for how we view ourselves. Until we consciously decide to get to know ourselves, for ourselves, we will likely be carrying around a perception of ourselves that is not based in fact but rather is based in the beliefs of those closest to us.

It was a life-changing discovery for me when I understood that the majority of the negative voices I heard in my mind were not my own but were those of the people who I'd trusted to tell me about myself. People who thought they were contributing to my mental toughness by attacking my self-esteem. Too many of us have been victims of a legacy of verbal abuse under the guise of 'tough love,' buying the idea that being spoken to harshly will somehow make us stronger. But what I realized was that people speaking to me that way, and me speaking to myself that way, was not a reflection of strength but rather a projection of weakness. Those who are really strong validate their strength by competing with & conquering older versions of themselves, not by seeking others to dominate & to make feel weak.

The law of inertia states that something in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by a greater external force. What many of us fail to realize is that the negative self-talk that we hear in our minds did not originate within ourselves but rather is a force that has been moving through our generational lines for decades, if not centuries. This is why it's such a difficult habit to break - because it is borderline genetic, it exists not just in our minds but in our bodies. To decide that the curse is going to end with you requires you to have an incredible amount of strength - not a forceful strength to bully ourselves into thinking a different way but a gentle strength to compassionately guide ourselves back to our true north over and over again. A strength to be willing to listen to our innermost thoughts and feelings as an observer as opposed to a proprietor and to question the validity of the harsh critiques we've internalized. As we do this, we not only liberate ourselves but set a precedent for how we interact with others, championing a legacy of kindness over criticism, and a strength based in mastering oneself instead of dominating others.

A Gentleman is not a fragile man

In order to heal, we have to be open to releasing the belief that strength can only be demonstrated through force because healing only happens through surrender. If you were to sprain your ankle and tried to force it into healing by running a marathon the next day, you'd find that you only exacerbate the injury, turning what could have been a brief period of rest into a prolonged and more serious condition requiring extensive treatment in the long run. Believe it or not, I really like David Goggins and have regularly found myself inspired by his content—though our approaches to inspiring others may seem to be polar opposites. The metaphor I shared about running a marathon injured makes me think of him because he often posts about running 100+ mile 'super marathons' while injured & how he has to have fluid drained from his knees both before and after the races because of how damaged they are. And while his resilience is definitely inspiring from a mental toughness stance, it's not at all conducive to healing and is likely doing damage to his body in ways that will be irreversible in the near future. I don't say this in a judgmental way because I honestly don't think healing or longevity are a part of his goals, and that's fine, but I do think he perpetuates a perspective of what many men think strength looks like and how we fail to acknowledge that it can be a greater demonstration of strength to stop, and heal, as opposed to forcing yourself to fight through the pain.

For many of us, especially men, physical pain is a lot easier to process and bear than emotional pain and while being able to face physical pain is respected, acknowledging emotional pain is seen as a weakness because it goes against deeply ingrained societal norms that equate emotional vulnerability with weakness. But just as ignoring a physical injury will lead to long-term damage, neglecting emotional pain will erode our mental health, sense of self, relationships, and overall quality of life. The ability to pause, reflect, and heal is not just an act of self-care; it's a profound demonstration of strength that challenges outdated stereotypes and paves the way for a more emotionally resilient society. David Goggins' catchphrase is "Stay Hard," but ironically, I'd be very surprised if his rigid idea of toughness did not lead his body to be in a very fragile state in the near future.

The difference between a fragile man and a gentle man is vulnerability. The fragile man feigns invulnerability by projecting a hard exterior. But much like glass or porcelain, something being hard does not mean that it's durable. All it would take is a fall from a decent height for what appears to be hard to shatter into a million pieces. On the contrary, if you were to drop something gentle, like a feather, it would float gracefully on its way down and when it lands, though it may be a little ruffled, you'd find there was no harm done to either the feather or the floor. What is hard is only concerned with protecting itself while what is gentle is more interested in harmony, not just self-preservation. Navigating the journey of self-healing is much like driving a car on a winding road. Just as a driver must handle the vehicle with finesse, making gentle steering corrections to stay between the boundaries of the road, so too must we guide ourselves with a soft touch and a gentle understanding to exist within the boundaries we've set to maintain our emotional well-being. Abrupt movements or harsh overcorrections at high speeds would cause the car to spin out of control, potentially flipping over or crashing into the surrounding environment. Similarly, when we attempt to change ourselves with harsh judgment or extreme measures, we risk spiraling into self-destructive behaviors and colliding with innocent bystanders in our environment. A skilled driver anticipates the road's twists and turns by being present and aware of the path as it unfolds, only making adjustments as necessary to stay on course. Similarly, we must learn to correct our course with patience and gentle self-awareness, focusing less on speed and more on consistency as we journey towards personal growth and self-discovery.

What makes me feel so strong these days is not the belief that I'm beyond being hurt but rather that I've accepted pain as a reality of life and as such, I'm not afraid of being hurt. I've committed to making vulnerability a way of life, and it has not only contributed greatly to my own healing by allowing me to drop the walls around my wounds that previously made repair impossible, but it has also helped me connect deeply with others and hopefully to inspire them to open up to their own paths towards healing. In my opinion, living with an open heart is the greatest display of strength there is because heartbreak is one of the most devastating things a human being can experience, and being vulnerable enough to be open to experiencing that heartbreak at any moment conveys to me someone who has mastered, not the art of avoiding injury but rather, the art of healing. It may seem counterintuitive, but the way to reduce violence within ourselves and within the world at large is by being less defensive, more vulnerable, and more open to giving and receiving the love that we all so desperately desire.

Growth Challenge

This week I have two growth challenges for you! Feel free to participate in one or both.

Growth Challenge 1: The Vulnerability Dialogue

Objective: To embrace vulnerability by opening up about personal challenges or fears with someone you trust. The goal of this challenge is to experience the strength found in vulnerability and the deepening of interpersonal connections as a result.


  1. Reflect: Spend a few moments reflecting on something you've been struggling with internally but haven't felt comfortable sharing with others. It could be a fear, a dream, or an aspect of your self-image that you typically guard.
  2. Choose Someone You Trust: Identify someone in your life with whom you feel safe and supported. This could be a friend, family member, or partner. If none of these are available to you, hit me up! (
  3. Initiate a Conversation: Reach out to this person and ask if they have time and capacity for a heart-to-heart conversation. Ensure it's a setting where both of you can speak freely and openly.
  4. Share: During the conversation, share your thoughts or feelings that you've reflected on. Be honest and open, allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
  5. Listen: After sharing, give the other person a chance to respond. This can also be an opportunity for them to share their own experiences, fostering mutual vulnerability.
  6. Reflect Again: After the conversation, take some time to reflect on the experience. How did it feel to open up? Did the interaction change your perspective on strength and vulnerability?

Growth Challenge 2: The Self-Compassion Pause

Objective: To cultivate gentleness with oneself by practicing self-compassion during a moment of self-criticism or negative self-talk. This goal of this challenge is to interrupt the cycle of harsh self-judgment with understanding and kindness.


  1. Awareness: Throughout the day, pay close attention to your inner dialogue, especially during moments of frustration, failure, or disappointment.
  2. Identify a Moment: When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk or being overly critical, pause. Acknowledge this moment as an opportunity for the challenge.
  3. Change the Script: Instead of continuing the negative dialogue, consciously shift to a compassionate perspective. Speak to yourself as you would to a dear friend in the same situation, offering understanding, encouragement, and kindness.
  4. Reflect on the Shift: Afterward, spend a few minutes reflecting on this experience. How did changing your inner dialogue make you feel? Did the self-compassion pause affect your emotional state or perspective on the situation?

Further Study

One of my favorite channels on YouTube is Soft White Underbelly. It's a channel where the interviewer seeks deep, introspective conversations with people from the margins of society. I'm usually blown away by the depth of awareness that some of these people have despite seemingly having made choices that led them to being in situations that most of us would consider dire or unfortunate. One of my favorite videos is an interview with a Black man in his fifties named Eric who is trying to rebuild his life after decades of struggling with drug addiction, being in and out of prison, and being homeless. The conversation is called "Rebuilding My Life," and I found it pertinent to this week's conversation around vulnerability because of just how vulnerable, open, and honest he is throughout the conversation and how his vulnerability has had a powerful effect on me and thousands of others. It is one of the most touching and inspiring pieces of media I've ever come across, and I hope you find value in it too.

Direct Link:

GWMS Merch

In last week's newsletter, I announced the 'I Complete Myself' design that I created to celebrate Women's History Month and last month's theme of Self-Compassion. This design is available as a t-shirt, on mugs, and now, thanks to the suggestion of someone in our community, framed prints! I received some samples of the shirts, mug, and prints and they all look great. If you want to purchase one, you can at the link below.

Purchase below:

What's Going On With Me?

I've slowly but surely been adjusting to life as a mustached man lol. It's funny how quickly we can get used to something that feels so odd at first. I initially planned to let my beard grow back as quickly as possible but now I'm debating on letting the mustache only look stick around for a while. I really feel like I'm picking up momentum with the newsletter. It was such a heavy lift to get started - the first few newsletters were super painful to write -- not just because of the emotional content within them, but because I'd not written long form consistently in years and was super rusty which made the whole process really uncomfortable and frustrating at times. They are getting easier and easier to write and starting to be something I look forward to doing instead of something I dread doing. Regardless to how painful it's been at times, knowing that there's someone on the other side of the screen that might find value in what I have to share makes it all worth it, truly.

My heart has been heavy lately due to all the suffering going on around me. I find myself personally in a pretty positive era of my life. I feel more like myself than I ever have before, I've successfully transitioned into a tech job as a web developer, something that seemed like only a distant dream just a couple years ago, I'm in a cool apartment in a new city which means new experiences, new people, and new opportunities, and I feel like I'm aligned in my soul's purpose of inspiring others to discover, explore, heal, and fall in love with their true selves. But then I hop on social media, watch the news, or hell, just look outside my window at the tent some seemingly homeless person has pitched beneath the foot bridge outside of my apartment building and am reminded that suffering is a constant and unavoidable reality on this plane of existence. I truly feel the world benefits nothing from us contributing more to suffering by becoming overwhelmed by the reality of suffering. And that honestly, the best thing we can do for others' suffering is to work to relieve suffering within ourselves, first, and then within our community. That is the goal of this newsletter - it has certainly helped relieve some suffering I've felt within myself and my goal is that it will help do the same for you.

I hope the coming week surprises you with something you've been wishing for.

With love,

Micheal Sinclair 💜