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Courage as a Choice: Building Your Courage Muscle

Cowardly-Lion-1In the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, I remember the scene with the Cowardly Lion who says,

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Courage!

So what does it really mean to have courage especially in times of disagreement? Courage is the ability to stay strong and address what you find difficult, scary and challenging. Courage is a choice. Being courageous and fearless takes practice; it takes being vulnerable; it means making hard decisions and it requires action. Like any skill or behavior, it takes concerted effort to build.

For many people, including myself, encountering disagreements and facing escalating interpersonal conflict is scary. Interpersonal conflicts challenge our beliefs, values systems and our self-image. The closer we are to someone in a relationship whether it be our teenager, coworker, spouse, sibling, best friend, boss or neighbor, we are presented with opportunities to practice being vulnerable and courageous. So what steps can you take to build your courage muscle?

  • Name your fear or anxiety. Simply speak out loud to yourself and name the fear. For example,” I am afraid she will not talk to me anymore if I raise the issue.” Naming “it” lessens the emotional impact.
  • Take a deep breath. Breathing slows your brain’s defensive reaction and helps you focus. When building muscle, you isolate the exercise to a specific muscle group which in turn strengthens the ability to use the muscle in a different way. Breathing helps manage anxiety.
  • Set your intention. What is a new courageous goal you will set for yourself when facing interpersonal conflict? For example, “My goal is to communicate my needs in a respectful manner regardless of whether the other person disagrees.”
  • Acknowledge every tiny step you take. It is important to build self-confidence by acknowledging every small risk, step or effort in building courage as you work toward your goal.
  • Speak your truth. This is not about debating who is right or wrong. It is about speaking from your heart and being vulnerable with the other person to share your deeper thoughts and emotions. It is about being authentic and genuine to who you are in the face of conflict.
  • Listen to the other person’s truth. Building our courage muscle also means receiving feedback and listening deeply to the other person’s truth and be willing to be present with them.

These are just a few strategies to practice courage and build your courage muscle.

Pattie Porter. LCSW

 

Listen and learn more with Eric Galton and Unbearable Conflict Requires Courageous Conversations

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The Teen-Parent Battle: Growing Through Conflict

cmbs-2-0-still-maturingOur radio program series for September is titled, Courageous Conversations on tough issues between parents and their children regardless of the child’s age. The parent-child relationship can be difficult to navigate both from the parent and child’s perspective. As a parent, you nurture and care for your little babies then watch as they grow and change into adults. As a child, you view your parents as authority figures turning to them for advice and guidance. As your parents get older, your roles reverse, and now they need your guidance and support as adult children. During your life cycle, a myriad of conflicts occur from eating vegetables to breaking curfew or differences of a career path to difficult decisions about whether to put your parent in a nursing home.

I am a child of two wonderful parents, who have always shown me support and love. However, we did and still do have our conflicts. I think when I was a child I was under the impression my parents were perfect people. Once adolescence hit my relationship with my parents changed; blame it on the hormones or on my need to prove that I was an adult. Either way, I fought with my parents, my dad more so than my mom. I know there are many teens out there whose parents get on their nerves. Many teens may find themselves wishing time to speed up so that they can be an adult and not have to listen to their parents anymore. Two weeks from now, I will be getting married, and I often wonder where the time went? I find it aggravating that ten years ago when I was sixteen and my parents said “Enjoy your childhood while it lasts because you will blink your eyes, and it will be gone” they were right.

I wanted to write this week’s blog post for teens who find themselves in a constant battle with their parents. I have prepared a short list of points teenagers need to be aware when they get into these conflicts.

  • Let go. If you are harboring resentment towards your parents about something they did or didn’t do in the past, understand your parents are human and make mistakes. When we are born we don’t come with handbooks and your parents are doing the best they can.
  • Understand your parent’s intention. If your parents don’t let you wear certain outfits or stay out longer past your curfew, remember they have your best interest at heart. They are not trying to ruin your life, despite how it may seem.
  • Mamma and Papa know best. If you think you are an adult and capable of making your choices, understand that with age comes wisdom and despite how grown up you feel, you are still a child. My fiancé and I were looking at pictures of us as children, and we found one of him when he was twelve. He had put “sun-in” in his hair, which was a popular fad during this time of our lives. Sun-In was a hair product that would bleach the top of your head blonde. My fiancé told me how much his parents had not wanted him to use Sun-in and looking back now he said he completely understood why they were so opposed. However, when he was twelve, he thought he knew best.

I hate admitting this, but my parents were right more times than they were wrong. When in conflict with your parents remember they are adapting to you changing and growing into an adult, this isn’t an easy adjustment. While conflict with your parents is inevitable keep the points listed above in mind, and remember you will survive!

Our September series is covering a variety of difficult conversations between parents and child. Check out our upcoming series here: http://www.texasconflictcoach.com/category/upcoming-shows/

 

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Courageous Conversations Between Parents and Their LGBTQ Children

 

Priscilla Fernandezzena ZumetaCourageous Conversations between parents and their LGBTQ children regardless of age. The coming out conversation can be extremely difficult on both sides. This program will look at some of the repercussions the LGBTQ person faces from the conversation, as well as the gains that are made. We will also look at resources available to LGBTQ people and their friends and families.

fearless

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