Thoughts That Make A Difference- April 2013

Do you have emotional courage?

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have been reading bits and pieces this month about something called "emotional courage." We all know about "courage" but I have been intrigued by the term emotional courage since September of 2012 when a man named Frank shared it during a corporate retreat I was conducting. Frank is a senior level manager with many years of experience so it shocked me when he stood up in front of a room of 100 supervisors and said, "I am going to have the emotional courage to share..." Without putting him out there, he shared some areas where he struggled as a manager and what he was doing to try to grow in those areas.

While he was speaking, I was saying, "Wow, now this is a deep moment! Here is a man who is putting himself out there with no idea how this is going to play out with these people."

For the past six months my spirit has been ruffled by the question, "Veraunda, do you have the emotional courage?"

Here are some areas where I find emotional courage is needed:

-Do you have the emotional courage to continue to engage in a positive manner versus cursing out a co-worker who you KNOW doesn't like you and is constantly rude to you?
-Do you have the emotional courage to ask someone you KNOW YOU hurt or failed not only for forgiveness but to share with you what that experience was like for them so you can try to avoid those behaviors in the future?
-Do you have the emotional courage to be vulnerable not knowing what the other person's response is going to be?
-Do you have emotional courage when the answer to a question you found the emotional courage to ask is not what you would have liked it to be, to stop for a moment and honor the person's emotional courage to tell you their truths?
-Do you have the emotional courage to realize that you should never give with an expectation of what you are going to get back in return?
-Do you have enough emotional courage to say, "I don't know how to love you the way you need or want to be loved, parent you the way you need or want to be parented, but I am doing my best and I am open to trying something different until we get it right?"
-Do you have the emotional courage to say, "I might have been a day late and a dollar short this go around, but I learned a valuable lesson in the midst of this situation and next time I am going to be on the money?"
-Do you have the emotional courage to live in your own truth about what is not working in your life and embark on the uncomfortable journey to figure out how to strategically change it?
-Do you have the emotional courage to just stop, be still and get centered when you experience negative feelings like hurt, anger, sadness or disappointment, or do you become numb and try to avoid thinking or feeling?

I could go on with various life situations that call for emotional courage, but I think you can identify with at least one of these scenarios. What I am finding on my journey is the more I stop for a moment and think about a situation that can be perceived as hard or negative, I am asking myself the question that leads me to exercising emotional courage..."Veraunda, who are you going to choose to be in this moment?" There are days when I choose to just act out (laughing), but on most days, I am trying to experience the situation as an opportunity for growth and personal development.

I have watched how we have acted and responded to political elections, Supreme Court decisions, and news headlines. More and more I find that I CHOOSE not to engage in conversation which ends up more like my law school debate classes. Why? I have the emotional courage to realize that arguing with folks who are deeply rooted in a belief system is a waste of my time. More importantly, the light has gone off and I have realized that it is not my life's purpose to try to change someone. If they are seeking enlightenment and a different perspective I am here and happy to engage...but to just argue for the sake of arguing? NOPE!!! Not the way I choose to use my very valuable time anymore.

I have been finding the emotional courage to start spending time thinking about what I am thinking about. Remember, what we focus on grows! I am taking a moment to process why I am giving certain people or things so much time (which really equals power) in my day. I am asking myself, "How does my focus on this issue serve me?" Or, "How does engaging with this person, if it is going to be a continued struggle, serve them or me?" I am also finding the emotional courage to honor the choices of others. The older I get, the more I understand that relationships are where we do our work. What I am watching happen in my friendships where we are willing to have the emotional courage to share honestly and listen without judgement is that my world is changing into an incredible place. It is a place of praying and processing which turns into a place of peace.

In January I shared with you that "It is O.K. to be still." I am spending more and more time sitting on my patio or my deck, taking a walk, reading, journaling and digging deeper into "just being." Won't you join me on this journey to learning more about emotional courage and one day at a time putting it into practice?

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." -Reinhold Niebuhr

Copyright 2012 Veraunda Jackson- EHAP Inc.