Have you been brave lately?
Do you have to regularly take brave action because anxiety is something that visits you regularly? Brave: one definition is “having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty”Feeling brave is such an interesting mix of emotions-it’s recognising fear and choosing to behave against the instincts of safety and security.
In some circumstances people can look at people acting in a brave manner and mistakenly assume they are not afraid. And we know this is not necessarily the case, in fact I’ve always thought that understanding bravery meant recognising that it occurs in the face of feelings of fear, insecurity, doubt, anxiety and worry. It’s the actions and hopefulness that propels brave action, and sometimes acting brave helps those hopeful, courageous and strong feelings grow.
Sometimes courage doesn’t have this effect until the behaviour is over, but usually we feel more positive after brave actions we may even feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Acting against our fear instincts is usually done because there is belief that this will be beneficial for us in some way. It should be done because we trust that our anxiety is not ‘trustworthy’ in this instance and that we logically understand pushing through the fear will be worth it.
So being ‘brave’ is not something that should be encouraged without careful thought and ignoring fear and anxiety should also be listened to carefully before choosing to push through it. Like the risks of being ‘positive’ in a blanket toxic manner, we need to be careful not to use encouragement to be ‘brave’ whether to ourselves or our children, as a dismissing statement about not being allowed space to feel anxious or (because all emotions are absolutely valid) but listening and taking note of our emotions and then deciding what actions are going to be most aligned with our goals and values. Sometime that will mean taking brave action and sometimes that will mean listening to our anxiety and that action will be ‘brave’ in its own unique way.