I see you, I’ve been there.

Navigating life with the rigid guard rails up around your heart. A high brick wall built as a reactive measure, an attempt to weather the storm. Perhaps it’s a wall of resentment that’s been built to prevent hurt, rejection or betrayal. Perhaps it’s a wall that has developed slowly, over a long period of relentless challenges, setbacks or grief.

We’ve all been there. Thinking that the wall that we are building around our heart space will serve to protect us. The guards that won’t let anyone in. Towering walls of strength that no one can leap. Somewhere we can hide.

But the façade of strength soon feels like rigidity, an inability to move. We clamber for air behind these walls. The guard rails around your heart soon cage you in, prevent you from expanding or experiencing joy.

One of my favourite authors Brene’ Brown shares stories on developing a soft front with a  hard back. Let’s explore what this means for you and your resilience, your ability to navigate life’s challenges.

Lets’ start with soft front, which in essence is the polar opposite of the rigid cage around your heart.

A soft front means the ability to be open, vulnerable, seen for who you are. To stand open and firm with authenticity without fear of judgement, allowing yourself to simply be who you are, all that you are. The ability to appreciate all sides despite the differences and connect with others with both empathy and understanding. To be approachable, authentic, real. To connect with others in a problem-solving way, as a team, together.  

Soft front means we have an open heart and an authenticity about us that dissolves walls and let’s love in.

However a soft front does not mean a soft back. Soft back means that we give to the point of depletion ignoring our own needs. Soft back means we allow others to walk all over us. That we turn to water the moment someone demands something beyond our capacity. We feel drained, used and eventually resentful.

A strong back means you have the capacity to set boundaries. To understand your own values and be willing to stand true to them. To say no, without apology or confrontation, if something doesn’t align with your values. To say no, without apology or confrontation, if you need to dedicate some time to you, to put you first for a moment. To refuel so you can continue to give out.

Strong back means standing firm, unwavering but with compassion and without the fight.

As women when we navigate a life challenge or grief we can fall into the trap of reversing the order. Soft front and strong back, soon becomes hard front and soft back.

We develop a hard front, build a wall which we think looks like strength but feels like rigidity. A wall that prevents our own heart felt authenticity as well as our capacity to find joy or connect with others

We also fall back into the trap of a soft back with an inability to set boundaries or say no.

On my retreats and online program I encourage women to develop the skill of soft front with a strong back.

Learning to remain open hearted and courageous despite life’s challenges is not easy. It’s certainly easier to put up a guard rail and close yourself down developing a hard front. It’s also easier to give out endlessly without the courage to set clear boundaries. All of which leads to isolation, resentment and depletion.

To remain open hearted, authentic and vulnerable with the courage to set clear but kind boundaries is the essence of soft front and strong back and is a key step in building resilience.

Like to learn more about developing resilience through life challenges? Niky offer’s both online programs for women as well as her four day Rise UP retreat.

  • Find out more about her retreats here
  • Learn more about her online program with this free resource to help women transform grief to resilience here
  • Watch more here 
  • Listen in to our podcast here