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Taking In The Love: What I Learned From Joan Armatrading

I attended the "Final World Tour" of Joan Armatrading, the 64 year old English singer-songwriter. Joan is my all time favorite musician and I have seen her play live many times. This concert, however, was different. At two different times during the concert, she paused on behalf of her Self and gave herself a gift: permission to be loved.

In the middle of the set, she took a 15 minute break to narrate the story of her career highlights. She showed at least 50 photos of herself with various important people. "This is me with Nelson Mandela. He requested a private meeting with me," she proudly shared as one example. While others might have judged her as boastful, I did not. Yet, she wasn't shy to show her pride and pleasure.

In another similar moment at the end of the concert, Joan laughingly made a request: Instead of leaving the stage and waiting for us, the audience, to cheer ferociously until she reappeared for her encore, she instructed, "This time I'm going to stand here while you cheer. You may begin."

The audience erupted with applause (this was in fact one of her best concerts). Joan's pride in herself was evident. I was in awe. Almost never have I witnessed someone permitting themselves to receive such affirmation publicly. And this is for a good reason: people judge others for this very act. Yet, she gave herself this moment. "If not now, when?" I imagined her saying to herself. Joan beamed gleefully at the audience.

I often write about the importance of taking in affirmation. Our culture teaches us to stay "small" and modest to avoid being too "big" and possibly alienating others by evoking jealousy and envy. Joan Armatrading demonstrated a balance of humility and unabashed pride in herself. Her courage blew me away.


To learn more about emotions like joy and pride and how to feel them more deeply, learn about the Change Triangle or pick up a copy of the award-winning book, It's Not Always Depression (Random House & Penguin, UK, 2018).

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