It's easy for us to identify individuals whom we see as courageous, but what is it about them that we perceive as courageous? Is it their willingness to jump out of a plane up to 14,000 feet in the air? Is it their willingness to look injustice in the face and speak out? Is it their ability to take a financial risk to follow their dreams?
What about emotional and mental courage? This may be a little harder to recognize without an understanding of what it is.
Many of us judge ourselves for “bad” emotions we feel. We tell ourselves we shouldn't feel this way and actively push those emotions aside, failing to realize what we feel is oftentimes a part of the human condition when simply experiencing life.
If I'm honest, I've had a very strict list of what I should and should not feel in response to circumstances. With the help of my therapist, this is something I have been able to successfully understand and undo as I go through my own journey of being a recovering perfectionist.
At times, we have this same strict list with those we are doing life with, causing them to feel shame and shut down from experiencing and processing through various emotions. The reality is life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility, which results in us feeling those gamut of emotions that we shame.
Life's beauty is inseparable from its fragility. -Susan David
The speaker in this Ted Talk, Susan David, said something that I do not believe many understand: emotions are data, not directives. They are signs telling us if and when something is off. Not only do emotions provide informative data, but so do our thoughts.
When we receive this information, we are then responsible for listening to what our emotions and thoughts are telling us and create plans to deal with it. That’s emotional and mental courage!
Check out Susan David, an author and psychologist at the Harvard Medical School, tell her personal story on discovering her own emotional courage.
I'm rooting for you, always.
Diamond James, MSW, LCSWA