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Commitment + Courage Get You Where You Want to Go

Updated: Apr 25


During the last several months of her battle with Pancreatic Cancer, my Mom received phone calls and visits from many friends. The two that stood out to me the most were Ruthanne, her childhood best friend, and Sharon, her cousin. These two were at the top of her list to contact when she passed away.


The day she died, my brother and I split the responsibility of making those phone calls. Among those I called were Ruthanne and Sharon.


I had several conversations with them in the days that followed. Ruthanne wanted to know funeral arrangements and there was a portable oxygen machine that Mom had borrowed from Sharon that needed to be returned. In fact, when I returned that machine a couple of my brothers came along with me and we got to hear some family stories. Sharon even gifted me some family heirlooms, since she never married or had any children. Ruthanne has two sons, but no daughters and she lamented that to me in one of our phone conversations.


By the end of that first week after Mom’s passing, I had committed to myself to stay in touch with both of these women who are in their early 80’s. I hoped they might help me feel close to my Mom, and that I might be a friend.


In the weeks and months after Mom’s passing I pushed off calling them many times. Sure, I was busy with Holiday preparations, but there was something else behind my procrastination; FEAR


My Inner Critic works hard to protect me from rejection. What if they wondered why I was calling them? What would we talk about?  What if it was awkward? I even tried to rationalize that I wasn’t obligated to stay in touch with them. I had told them I would keep in touch, but they had said the same thing and hadn’t called me yet. Was it really MY responsibility to call them? Besides, I’m so busy. I don’t have the time to make a social phone call!


And so it went EVERY time I thought of calling them.


Most of our brains really like to fight for the path of least resistance, even with things that aren’t very challenging, but feel risky.  


Not making a phone call and staying quiet would be so much easier than making a phone call and possibly feeling stupid; "Sit back, and stay in your cocoon of emotional protection," that’s what my Critic argues for.


You might recognize these patterns in your own Critic's way of thinking too. If it’s not making phone calls that feels scary, it’s definitely arguing for another way to seek comfort, conserve energy and most of all, avoid pain.


But the part of me that wants to connect and keep my commitment, fights back.  The part of me that knows this really isn’t dangerous is calmly reassuring me.


I asked from the rational part of me, “Why do you want to do this?”

I did a self-check: Do I want to do this? I felt a strong YES.

Ok then, if I want to do it, Why?

My Why – Because I love these women. They remind me of Mom. I want to be a friend to them.

The fear began to dissipate. I had an idea: Mom would ask about them rather than just talk about herself. I can do that. That made me feel courageous.

My higher brain was taking the lead. My Inner Critic was quieting down.


Invite Your Strong Emotions to Ride in the Passenger Seat, Rather than Giving them the Steering Wheel
Invite Your Strong Emotions to Ride in the Passenger Seat, Rather than Giving them the Steering Wheel

It may help to remember it this way: Higher Brain in the Drivers’ seat, Lower Brain in the Passenger seat. Invite the negative emotions to sit next to you in the passenger seat, but never let them get behind the wheel. You rarely get far when Fear, Confusion, Doubt or their “Thought Friends” are driving.


Inviting it to join you for the ride means you aren’t fighting against it. Imagine what kind of driver you are when you’re fighting with the other people in the car: Distracted. Dangerous. Ineffective. The ride is miserable!


So one afternoon I invited my Commitment and Courage to do the driving and called Ruthanne and then Sharon. With both, we fell right into conversation. Both showed concern for me, both expressed their love for Mom. It wasn’t awkward at all, we talked and laughed like friends do.


I cried tears of joy when I got off the phone. I had almost talked myself out of having that wonderful experience. Another bonus; This act of bravery & it's positive outcome has been entered into my memory bank and the next time I think of reaching out to them I now have evidence that I am capable of being successful at it.


I gained evidence of my capability by using Courage to stick to my Commitment. Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan calls this process The 4 C’s: Commitment + Courage = Capability. And Capability = Confidence. Confidence is the end result of facing your Inner Critic with Courage.


Using it in combination with coaching can help you improve your sense of self, reduce wasted time and stress and make great strides in your life!


Much Love,

Meredith


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