Lesson of the Week

Affectionate: I express tenderness

Focus your heart.  There are times when you need brute force.  But there are times when your most effective power will be affection and tenderness — the solution to your unresolved problem.

There are times when you need brute force. There are also times when your most effective power will be affection and tenderness.  “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, wrote Albert Maslow in his 1962 work Toward a Psychology of Being.  However, everything is not a nail.  Delicate situations require delicate means for preservation, regeneration, and growth.

Catherine Hamlin M.D. found this to be true when she visited Ethiopia and found very young women having no mission in life.  Women were killing themselves; others were living as if they were dead.  Women were banished into the bush or ostracized in teeny huts away from family and friends.  Why?  Because they bore a child and became  permanently incontinent.  Dr. Hamlin’s mission:  to provide the affection and tenderness necessary to bring these girls back to life.  How?  By doing fistula surgery and sending them back home cured with a new clean dress.  Dr. Hamlin could have waged war on the system and hammered down on the cause, but she found a more tender mission, curing each woman one by one and sending them back into communities to make a difference.  Each year over a thousand women are healed, while hundreds of thousands wait.  You can see the whole story in the documentary, A Walk to Beautiful.  

“Focus your heart”, one mother told her daughter as she was going to make the twenty-four hour frightening trek to an equally frightening, unknown surgery.  She did focus her heart and was cured by Dr. Hamlin.  This is the second necessary component to a successful mission:  you must focus your heart – bring a little affection and tenderness to yourself as well as your mission.

Focusing your heart can be the single most powerful thing you can do.  Focusing your heart means applying affection and tenderness to yourself.  Like putting on your airplane oxygen mask first and then helping others, you must first give yourself affection and tenderness, and then reach out to others.  This isn’t a sleazy, creepy, stalking passionate lust, but an attentive, healing, present, compassionate love.

Somaly Mam is another person who could have waged a violent protest and war against inhumanity.  However, she too had affection and tenderness in her quiver.   Her story is told in Red Light the Movie, a documentary on the trafficking of human slaves.  Somaly Mam’s poor tribal minority family lived in Cambodia.  A man sold her into the horrible torture and culture of slavery.  She was only a child.  However, Somaly Mam eventually escaped, emerged, and started building, and working in recovery centers helping other victims.  Her method is tender present affection and powerful, resourceful interventions to recue individuals and end enslavement.

Pictured is a little child holding her “Bobby”, a little bear she was given at birth.  No matter what the age or circumstance, this little girl has preserved her little “Bobby”.  He has been repaired, and protected.  Think of what you can do with the same vigilant childlike affection and tenderness.  Remember and take advantage of those times when the most effective intervention is going to be putting down the hammer and responding with a tender embrace.


Every gift which is given, even though is be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.

- Pindar, Greek lyric poet (518-446 BC)


Activity:  The Dance Drama Solution

Materials:  Paper and pen or pencil.  Various “dress up” items to be used in the dance (e.g., hats, scarves, sheet, suit coat/clothing/bathrobe, rattle, purse/wallet, gloves)

Time:  Ten minutes to write dance ideas and ten minutes to perform dance.


1.  Each person works individually and writes down an idea for two dances to be performed in front of the group.
a) The first dance illustrates an unresolved problem you presently have.  This can be an old problem that has gone on for years, or a more recent one.
b) The second dance depicts the solution to this problem.

2. After outlining the unresolved problem and how you will dance each dance, take a turn and go to the pile of “dress up” items and pick out what you will use in your dance to illustrate both a) the problem, and b) the solution to this problem.

3. Take a turn dancing both of your dances in front of the group.  First dance a) the unresolved problem.  Wait a moment and then dance b) the solution.  Do not talk.  Do not explain.  The others in the group should be completely quiet before, during, and after your two dances.

4. After the dance there is a moment of silence while the dancer returns the “dress up” items and goes back to his/her chair.  Then the dancer can sit down and explain the dance and entertain questions and answers about the performance.

5.  This activity is repeated until each person in the group has had a turn to dance and discuss both individual dances.

6. After everyone has danced and discussed their dance, participants can each tell what this activity meant to them.


I am affectionate so I can .... We'd like to hear your story about being affectionate an tender towards others. Write your story below.