I recently spoke to a group of young adults (and their teachers/family/friends) at their high school graduation. I’ve written beforeabout Bronnie Ware’s The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. These themes are also echoed within the walls of our therapy offices at Bergen and Associates every day, and whispered to each other in The Daring Way™ groups that I offer regularly. And I thought to myself…”What if, instead of uttering these regrets on their death beds decades from now, these students would be able to proactively address these concerns as opportunities starting now, at the beginning of their adult lives. What if, they–and maybe others too–would shape their lives so as to avoid these end-of-life regrets?” So…I gave my take on each of the 5 regrets turned 5 opportunities. Join us to consider proactively living the life that aligns with the one you want to live? A 5 part series, from the talk, adjusted for a wider audience. With thanx to Bronnie Ware…
Opportunity #3: Express your feelings
The dying express their regret this way: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”.
I asked my Junior Tribe Member if he would be OK with me being the speaker on his graduation night. And he was very supportive and agreed
to it, with one instruction/plea to this therapist mama: “Please don’t talk about
feelings”. I tried to
respect his wishes, I did…but this was one of the 5 themes these dying people said…it’s their
idea, not mine. Can’t. help. it.
(and I am a therapist after all, right?)
A lot of people listen to music when
they exercise…I listen to TED talks – short talks by brilliant thinkers and
artists…that are “ideas worth sharing”. So when there was a TEDx event in
Winnipeg recently, I was thrilled to be there. (Actually, I was beyond thrilled…I’m an unapologetic TED geek–and this was a bucket list event for me.)
The highlight for
me was a talk by Ted Geddert. Ted
and his wife Carrie graduated from the same high school the same year I did.
Simply, Ted stole
the show at TEDx.
Ted is the head of
an innovative building company—an idea worth sharing. But his talk wasn’t about
his business. Instead, Ted shared his
heart…he talked about the experience of his dad and son dying on the same day,
and about “sharing and caring for pain”.
Ted let us in on
the playlist of songs of that time of his life. He gutted himself as he shared
about the soul wrenching agony of losing his son, Samuel and the heart
affirming actions of a supportive community.
He sang parts of songs along with
his son, Aaron…to illustrate the power of music in grieving and healing and
living and working back to joy.
It was beautiful. It was touching. It was powerful.
- It touched our hearts as we heard of the lostness that happens when a son dies.
- It captured our hearts when he spoke about all the love they had yet to give and expanded their family with two daughters who needed a family.
- It melted our hearts when we saw picture after picture of family and friends glorying in being together on the toboggan hill, on the water, in the water, around the fire, eating together.
The word courage comes
from the Latin word, “cour”, meaning heart. The original meaning of the word courage was “to tell the story
of your whole heart”.
As I said earlier, vulnerability is often seen as weakness…maybe
especially so for guys, who so often hide their feelings. But in fact, the
ability to be vulnerable is the greatest measure of courage.
Ted Geddert showed
raw courage…he shared his story.
Up front, he openly said, “I can’t sing very well.” And I asked him
after…I don’t think you sang in concert choir in high school, did you? And he said, “Nope, I auditioned, and
they wouldn’t take me. They were
desperate for male singers, but I didn’t make it.” And now he sang in front of
a group of powerful Winnipeggers…sharing of what it is like to lose a son.
me he was lousy at memorizing, but he went up without any notes. That was
vulnerable…and not one person would have said it was weak. His name was trending on Twitter that
day, as the buzz circulated about how he was authentic in ways that touched and
moved all who listened in the theatre that day. We were mesmerized.
There will be
many who will tell you to suck it up, hide your feelings and carry on.
will try to tell you that you shouldn’t have certain feelings, that some
feelings are wrong or inappropriate or embarrassing…the culture we live in, especially if you’re
a guy, may tell you not to have any feelings at all.
expressing feelings is being vulnerable.
And what the dying wished they had done more of…
Saying, “I love you”, telling someone they
matter to you, telling someone that you’re feeling misunderstood, terror at an exam…all
of that is hard and requires courage to express…but holding in unexpressed feelings is hard too, and carries with it its own costs.
Expressing what’s going on inside of you connects you to others, which brings us
to Life Opportunity #4…check back in a couple of days!