Jim Valvano nailed it!
Jim Valvano was a college basketball coach known for two events that will ever be burned into my memory banks. The 1st event occurred in 1983, where his North Carolina State Wolfpack upset Houston in the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament. You can watch the ending of one of the most magical moments in college athletics here. All I can remember is Jim Valvano running around the court in pure amazement and joy.
The second event was not so joyous, but none the less very inspirational and gets at the heart of my message today. Ten years later, Jim Valvano was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, he did not have much time left to live and was awarded the Arthur Ashe courage award at the ESPY’s in 1993.
If you want to catch up, you can access previous posts below:
A mere ten years later his famous speech rallied a nation to fight cancer and Never Give Up. You can access his speech here and if you have never heard it, I encourage you to do that.
Jim V. was an emotional coach. He lived thru his emotions and was not afraid to show them. But just recently have I come to understand the power of his speech and the 3 things he said you should do every single day.
- Think – Spend some time in thought
- Be moved to tears
If you do all 3 of those every day, that is a rich day. That is a really great day.
Laugh – I get it, we all know laughter lifts our mood and can relieve a tense situation.
Think – Spend some time in thought – Sure, we all think everyday, but this tends to dominate our days with tasks, work and thinking about what we need to do next.
Be moved to tears – Really? I mean I am a dude, I don’t do moved to tears. Maybe you don’t either, but maybe it’s time to shed a few.
What does it mean to be emotionally fit? Simply, do you allow yourself to recognize and feel a full range of emotions. Or do you only stay with the emotions you are comfortable with and stifle the rest.
Emotions might be the most misunderstood part of ourselves, but it is likely the most important aspect of yourself you should cultivate.
Do you live fully in your emotions? Do you feel deeply across a wide variety of emotions? Have you even thought about those questions?
There are several lies out there about emotions. Emotions represent weakness, emotions are bad, feeling doesn’t change anything and emotions can’t be trusted. Emotions are the core of our humanity. To be human is to experience a broad range of emotions.
There are not good or bad or weak emotions. They are just emotions and all emotions are a key part of the human experience. A key part of who you are. As a human being, you have the right to experience all of them.
Emotions are vulnerable and maybe that is why we get uncomfortable in public when we see someone crying. Or someone who is overly excited. We think, what is wrong with that person?
Up until a few months ago I thought you had two emotions – happy or angry. Happy was good, angry was bad. What about hope, trust, optimism, contentment, loneliness, anxiety, fear, worry, doubt, confusion, frustration and I could go on.
Do you spend time in those emotions? I certainly was not.
Why is this even important?
Let me give you four key reasons why this is important. This is just scratching the surface of this topic, but I have come to understand the benefit of becoming emotionally fit and feeling a broad range of emotions.
· Your emotions are the key to change. There is no change without emotion. You cannot and will not change anything in your life without getting intimate with your emotions. Change is an emotional process.
· Unexpressed emotions are toxic. Think of it this way, a clogged drain cannot accept anything new. No new water can flow thru a clogged drain. If you are denying or suppressing your emotions (joy or anger or any emotion) you are denying your ability to accept anything new. I think we have all seen someone just explode in anger at something that seems insignificant to you and me, but that is exactly what suppressed emotions looks like. It is what we do with emotions that give emotions a bad rap. This is not permission to express your anger to anyone, this is permission to get your anger out in a healthy manner, where others are not impacted.
· Refusing an emotion is just the same as refusing a part of yourself. Denied emotions will keep you separated from yourself and signal that part of you does not belong.
· Emotional fitness is the key to knowing more of yourself. Without authentic emotions you are disconnected from your true self. There is tremendous amount of wisdom in your emotions.
This is a complex topic, but the four points above will help you start to appreciate the role emotions play in your life.
Turns out I have been denying some of my key emotions for most of my life. As a man, we are taught to suck it up and get it done, any sign of emotion is weak and not very helpful.
That is just wrong and not true.
Your ability to feel your emotions and fully embrace them is a key enabler to getting what you want out of life.
Deep, yes. Hard, yes, uncomfortable – most of the time.
Turns out, I had a lot of anger and resentment that had built up over the last 25 years. Not good. The ability to express that in a healthy way has freed me up immensely, left me feeling much more creative, much more in touch with myself and those around me.
The biggest benefit is that releasing and expressing denied emotions has given me a sense of contentment, peace and energy that I have NEVER experienced before.
Complete peace and contentment in my work. Trust me, six months ago I thought that was impossible.
So, How did I do this? I got help from those who are intimate with how to cultivate emotional fitness. I have spent the last 6 months – almost everyday, recording my emotions twice a day. Interpreting them. Recognizing them. Expressing them. Unpacking them. Sitting with them.
This practice alone has provided great insight into the key choices and decisions I have made in my life. I have come to a full understanding of why I have felt hollow and empty during prolonged periods, not only in my work life, but all areas of my life at some point.
If you want more peace. If you want more contentment. If you want more joy. If you want to get closer to who you truly are, then you need to learn how to cultivate emotional fitness.
If you want to change anything in your life, a key element should be an emotional fitness program, where you learn to feel and live deeply with all your emotions.
If you need some help in this area and not sure what to do first, I have some great easy tools to get you started. Feel free to reach out and we can connect.
Like I said to start, this is the key “new learning” I have had over the last six months.
This is what has enabled me to have more hope, trust and freedom in what is next for me in all areas of my life. I will continue this practice for the rest of my life, it is my lifeline to me.
Have I piqued your interest? I hope so. I will be announcing a webinar in the coming weeks where you can come ask me questions and get more information on this topic and others in the series.
Next Week – Calm Mind, Calm Life