Thought for the Week: Be brave enough to express how you're really feeling
Working hard at social change can't be sustained if you don't look out for yourself, too – so each week, we're inviting experts to share guidance, reflections and exercises to help social impact leaders through difficult times. This time: social entrepreneur and coach Jermaine Henry urges readers to let out whatever’s being bottled up, in whatever form it takes.
We have a lot of time with ourselves in times of lockdown and isolation. There's so much that we're taking in or ruminating on, but not letting out.
I think this is a time to express ourselves and have some release. If we don’t let out some of these emotions we’re feeling right now, and they get bottled in, they will just come out in different – and often negative – ways. Expression also helps you to connect with others, which is so important right now.
Last year, my best friend, Jordon Veira, passed away – he was only 26. I had so many different emotions, from anger to peace, to sadness and joy. We often don’t let anger, rage and frustration come out. So I decided to focus on helping people to create ‘braver’ spaces for myself and others – spaces where we decide to be more honest, authentic and vulnerable about our experience.
We do this both with ourselves and with each other, so that we can heal and grow. Because we don't grow in safety, we grow by pushing against our comfort zone.
We don't grow in safety, we grow by pushing against our comfort zone
BRAVE(R) is actually an acronym that I created. It stands for Bold Real Awkward Vulnerable Expressive (Response). Normally, when people think of being brave, they're thinking about a warrior-type figure, like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. But bravery is actually about being vulnerable and courageous enough to express yourself.
Expression is conveying a feeling, thought or experience. So, how can we all be braver in our expression?
1. What is your method of expression?
Ask yourself how you like to express yourself. Some people are auditory, some like to write, some people are visual. Some are performative in their body. Take the time to work out how you express yourself.
2. Sit with yourself.
Take a moment and sit and breathe. Take a few deep breaths, reflecting on whatever you’re feeling. What feelings, emotions and ideas are you experiencing right now? What are the things that are stuck and that you need to let out?
3. Express it.
Free your mind and do whatever you feel you need to do in that moment to express yourself. And that expression may not be beautiful and it may not make sense but the idea of this exercise is to take the things that are bottled in you, and let them out.
So whatever you do, whether it’s through art, poetry, movement, song, silence or a different kind of expression, we are all creative and artists and I think we all need to tap into that, especially now.
Jermaine Henry is a Canada-based author, MC and coach who is passionate about leading leaders. Find out more at jermainehenry.ca.
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