Let’s talk about emotional hospitality.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Unsplash

What do you think of when you think of a friend?

What images are conjured up when you think of hospitality?

Hospitality and Connection

So when you think of hospitality, most likely you picture being welcomed into someone’s home and served tea or a warm meal.

When I think of hospitality, I close my eyes and feel welcome. I feel safe. I feel like I belong.

Hospitality isn’t mandatory. It’s an act of generosity. It’s a proactive act. Sometimes, it’s a sacrifice.

You can sense when the hospitality offered to you is forced or awkward.

But when the hospitality is genuine, and the conversation is uplifting, and the beverages are poured — the sense of friendship, the sound of laughter, and the connection is powerful.

Emotional Vulnerability

Vulnerability, specially since Brené Brown’s Ted Talk, is a popular concept. It’s a nice thought. But to have it function in your daily life can feel overwhelming, terrifying even.

Vulnerability is a proactive state. You decide to reveal something of yourself that puts you at risk — at risk for ridicule or rejection. It’s the fear of shame and abandonment that keeps us guarding our emotions, our heart, our soul.

By no means should you wear your heart on your sleeve, revealing your soul to the world. Yet, you should have two or three people in your life that you deeply trust.

Vulnerability and Trust

The more that you experiment with vulnerability — with a trusted person — the more you build trust.

If you are going through something difficult, start small. Tell a friend a bit. See if you can trust them. Find out if they are a qualified confidant.

This trust is established and strengthened through open communication.

Trust and Communication

There is no trust without communication. Trust is like an emotional credit line. Someone has to be the first to issue a $200 debit card.

I came across this article and video today that puts it best:

“Good listeners allow us to be vulnerable — they don’t invite us to open up and then immediately reject us for our follies.” Margaret Zuo

Emotional Hospitality

Being a good listener, sharing your own life, being vulnerable, being a communicator, those are all attibributes of what I now call emotional hospitality.

Through my grieving process since May of 2016, I’ve learned to trust people. I’ve communicated openly to many friends. I’ve been honest with my feelings. It has been rewarding and terrifying at the same time.

Every time I regret a post and go back to Facebook to delete it, a friend has messaged me in some fashion to tell me how much that post touched their soul.

The truth is that all of us suffer. It’s not a competition. There is enough grief and empathy to go around. What is happening to you is real and valid. Tell someone. Get counseling, talk to a friend, pray, walk, do yoga, go fishing. But don’t keep it buried.

As much as people have been there for me this past eleven months, I feel like I’ve learned to be a good friend, a good listener, and hospitable.

At least, that has been my goal.

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