Do You Have Emotional Courage?


I heard this from a friend not too long ago, “I’m just so unhappy, I don’t think I can do this job anymore.” When I asked her what was up she told me that she was totally stressed out and that she was in constant fear of losing her job. After a short discussion, it was clear that there was no real threat to her job, just some deep-seated anxiety. When I suggested that maybe she should talk to a professional she told me, “I know what my issues are”. In other words “Thanks,but that’s nevah going to happen.”

I can’t seem to go a week without hearing how someone is suffering and refuses to do what it takes to get well. Whether it’s addiction, anxiety, depression, some trauma, or something less severe, like just being a chronically negative. Most people have something about themselves they should be working on. But many don’t even try to fix it. The main reason? We are simply afraid. Afraid of how it will feel to come face-to-face with whatever is issue is.

Taking a hard look in the mirror takes courage. Leaning into our unwanted parts of ourselves can be terrifying. It takes “emotional courage”, that is the willingness to feel the full extent of our emotions, both positive and negative.

To develop your “emotional courage” try doing the following exercise. Pick something you know you need to work on and do the following:

  1. Name the issue.
  2. How have you avoided dealing with it? Have you been denying that it is a problem, blaming others, ignoring it, masking it by doing something else, rationalized that you can’t change?
  3. Take 10 seconds and think about the issue, then tune into how you are feeling? Can you sense any of the core emotions coming up – anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, contempt, shame, guilt, or embarrassment?
  4. Now say the following to yourself with intent and true honesty, “I forgive myself for not dealing with it, I am a good person and I’m ready now.”
  5. Come up with one step you can take to address whatever is going on. Buy a book on the topic, find someone you can talk to about it, etc.
  6. Write down what you plan to do and ideally tell someone close to you what your plan is. This will make it harder not to follow though.

The hard part is starting. That’s the scariest time, right before you take the leap. Once you gotten past that you’re on your way.

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