Doing Gentle With an Edge (With Helena Roth)


Helena Roth has been on a long journey towards inner gentleness. She describes the place she has reached today as gentle with an edge. This resonated strongly with the concept of gentle rebellion.

For Helena, gentleness appeared to be the only effective response to the harsh internal dialogue which she describes as a mash-up of Hitler, Mao, and Stalin.

She says: “You do gentle. Then you add “the edge”, which for me, is tankespjärn.”

Descriptive Not Prescriptive

Tankespjärn is a description of something that we all experience. It’s found in the opening or invitation to experience a shift. Not enforced from an external source but through an inner electric surge. Where something ignites and a new possibility or perspective is seeded.

Like me, Helena takes a descriptive rather than prescriptive approach to writing, coaching, and creativity. Rather than providing one-size-fits-all blueprints and models, we carry an intuitive connection to this idea of tankespjärn.

Helena says that “when you’re faced with Tankespjärn, there’s a choice. To step away from the possibility, or to step into it. But it sure is hard to forget about that door, leading to the unknown; the knowledge of which will, once revealed, always stay with you, even if you chose to let the door slam shut without entering.

What is tankespjärn for one, might not be for another. They aren’t necessarily universal or general, but rather personal and specific. What makes me go Huh? might not cause even the slightest ripple within you, and vice versa.”

I have experienced it over and over in my life. It’s nice to put a name to it.

“Certainty is a closing of the mind, to create the new requires doubt” – Milton Glazer

In the converesation we talk about:

  • What ‘tankespjärn’ means, and how Helena discovered it as a perfect personal philosophy
  • How to find your ‘edge’ and what it looks like to walk along it in life
  • Learning gentleness and how to stick with it when we make errors
  • Seeing gentleness as a shock absorber which can help us roll with the punches of life
  • Why we are both fans of descriptive rather than prescriptive approaches to blogging and business
  • The sources of our current ‘epidemic of harshness’ (and the potential antidotes to it)
  • How certainty and anxiety rise together, and what can happen when we drop our certainty statements and changing our language
  • The infectiousness of culture (how we can be more intentional in order to create a gentler and less harsh world)
  • Why it’s OK to not have (or share) your opinion
  • How your enjoyment doesn’t detract from my suffering (and why it’s important to share what feels good rather than staying silent)
  • The ways we shape and create our own reality with the people and stories we surround ourselves
  • How adversity is often the fertile ground of connection, beauty, and art
  • What to do with your desire to make a positive imprint (and how to use this in conjunction with your approach to social media)
  • How to curate healthy filters of input and output in order to build an energising creative rhythm

Connect With Helena

Twitter: @HERO_Respondi

Instagram: @helenaroth


Helena and I also did a series of five conversations for her podcast:

  1. The everyday creativity of music, coaching and meandering
  2. Parenting for creative works
  3. Trademarked gifts aren’t really gifts
  4. The rooted fire within
  5. Notifications are alarm clocks that someone else set for you