With Valentine’s day approaching, it seems like a great time to talk about emotions. I’m currently taking Brene Brown’s “Brave Leaders” course online and it is amazing in so many ways. I’m currently in a deep dive in courage which involves exploring how we show up in life. Is it with vulnerability, with empathy? It’s a fascinating course, and I love Brene Brown so….there’s that.
But, loving this course doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. As is the bulk of Brene’s work, it’s valuable to the degree you dig in, look at more than the easy response. You have to take a deep breath and get ready because often times what you discover has more than a lingering impact.
That’s what happened to me this week. There was an exercise on “emotional literacy” to help you understand emotions you experience and what it looks like when you’re moving through that emotion. Often times, what other people experience when you’re in that space is only the surface emotion, and there is a whole lot more going on underneath the surface.
I’ll let you play along…abbreviated version…just for fun. Read this list of emotions. Which ones can you recognize and describe as you’re experiencing them.
Anxious Belonging Blame Curious Disappointed Excited Embarrassment Fear Frustrated Gratitude Guilt Happy Hurt Joy Judgement Love Overwhelmed Shame Vulnerability
Maybe you circled the ones you can identify with, that you know when you’re in that emotion. Look at your words again. Notice any pattern? Here’s what I noticed that smacked me in the face. The bulk of emotions I could identify with were what I would label as negative (and the list was twice as long).
So I looked at the list again, I must have missed some positive emotions. Nope. Being honest and truthful with myself there were more negative emotions I could identify with than positive.
That realization really made me go inside my head. If I’m honest with myself, my words were not a surprise to me. I’m a fairly serious person by nature. I’m working on lightening up, and there are moments of it, but I’ve been called serious more than once. But looking at the list as seeing more negative emotions, fear-based emotions, caused me to pause. Maybe you felt the something similar?
Instead of spiraling into a shame storm of, I’m not a good person, I made a choice. That choice was to identify the root of those emotions.
In my mind, looking at the root goes back a long ways. And I don’t look at the root to place blame, but to understand it, and to move through it. Because here’s the deal. Those emotions might show up, but they shouldn’t be what comes up the majority of the time. They are coming from a place of fear, even if that fear is only subconscious, but it’s fear nonetheless.
I choose to come from a place of love. To consciously view situations from a place of love. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience other emotions, like hurt, at times, but I can choose to shift the lens of how I view my situation so I don’t stay in that space.
How about you? I’m not gonna lie, this is not easy work. But it’s oh so valuable. It’s part of being an authentic version of myself. It’s being brave. My encouragement to you is to think about emotions you recognize…and pause. Reflect on where they come from. It’s up to you to make the choice of how you want to experience a situation, the story you want to tell yourself about it. As for me, my journey is to change my lens to love. Myself, and others, it’s what God would call us to do. Love others. Don’t wait to figure it all out, start…right…now! Be brave my friends.