This Thanksgiving, everyone is going to sit around tables and give thanks for all the wonderful people in their lives, all the happy times, all the laughs. But try making room at the table for the crap, too.
Two subjects I teach, public speaking and writing, stir up a lot of negative emotion: nervousness, sadness, fear. Here are some quotes from my classroom:
- I wish I never had to feel nervous.
- I forgot what I was going to say, and I spent so much time practicing.
- That was scary. I’m so glad it’s over.
These are all such human reactions and feelings. I understand them all. I’ve thought them all too. So why not give thanks for them?
Thank you, nervous feeling, for reminding me that I’m about to do something that is stretching my comfort zone. I’m about to get stronger.
Thank you, sadness, because without your depths, I wouldn’t feel the heights of joy.
Thank you, fear, for challenging me. Everything I’ll ever really want in life is on the other side of you. So, thank you for showing up to let me know that I’m onto something amazing.
What if all our emotions are a gift? What if we could receive them all with grace and gratitude? What if nervousness, sadness, and fear came to you, wrapped in beautiful packages?
Would you run from them? Would you resist them?
When my class talks about the best speakers among their peers, they identify these kinds of people:
- People who expand their gestures,
- who move around the room,
- who tell stories that are vulnerable and relatable,
- who extend their hands to an audience that may or may not be receptive.
People that open up.
This holiday season, acknowledge that all your emotions are a gift.
Alongside of love and happiness, welcome the gifts of nervousness, sadness, and fear.
Give thanks. Be grateful. Don’t run away: receive them.
And then, open them up.