Despite popular belief, being brave is not about being fearless. Fear is natural - it's part of being human - we ALL feel it. We meet it everyday when we stand up for ourselves, to popular opinion, change the way we do things, try something new, experience conflict, feel embarrassed... and when we do it is important to understand that we have two choices.
1. To batten down the hatches, armour up and shut down in order to protect ourselves.
2. Breathe and lean in to it.
Most of us learn from a young age that Option 1 is our only option. It gives us a sense of control and may even feel natural - and honestly most of us aren't taught any other way. We want to build an impenetrable wall around our gentle heart - it's about self-preservation.
And yet, if we breathe and lean into the discomfort - the fear- we open ourselves to the greater possibility of living bolder and fully alive and rewiring the neural pathways that have previously lead us to feel isolated within and without.
I know, I know. Option 2 looks good on paper - but it feels uncomfortable.
So how the heck do we do this?
First of all we ALL need to get better at feeling. If we immediately shutdown in response to any feeling that feels sticky and uncomfortable - we can never know it. In order to truly know it - we must befriend it. If we don't allow for the small feelings to have a voice they become big feelings. And if they don't have a voice they simmer and bubble within like an emotional Mount Vesuvius and lead to dis-ease.
Last month I shared about the second thing we can do (Sept newsletter/blog)- we need to leave the Perfection Party. March on out and don't look back. Perfectionism and our fear of failure sidelines our happiness, ability to be vulnerable, and self-loving. As American TV psychologist, Dr Phil would say "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
I understand that the thought of allowing yourself to be imperfect and vulnerable seems less appealing than a vomit flavoured jellybeans (yes, there are such a thing), but vulnerability is a trait that makes us human: approachable, relatable and real.
To do this it is important that we stay open and curious. When we are closed we invite judgment, fear, blame and in both a personal and global way - we eliminate solutions.
Replace “I know” with “I wonder”.
I know that when I do this, when I'm feeling painfully vulnerable; it means things might really change. There's a powerful cultural mandate of “being right” that has built a prison over our own, deep forests of curiosity.
Despite how scary this might feel, I know more and more who are spending courageous heart-time asking very tough, honest questions. This is the work and it is your greatest masterpiece.
Can you name all the ways you're brave? To be showing up in this moment? To be working to make a better world? To choose to really work through the stuff that holds you back? To simply choose kindness, open-mindedness in any given moment?