When we think of being brave, we usually think of heroes - imaginary superheroes or firefighters rescuing people from burning buildings. What does it mean to be brave in our daily hum-drum lives?Being brave means having the courage to be present. To be who we are. To face reality. To acknowledge we have needs and we need to meet them. To be real.
Think of a time you've been fully present to an experience, to a conversation, to a moment of connection. Being brave might mean having the courage to step away from your phone or social media in order to fully enjoy a sunset, a game with your child, a date with your partner. It might mean being willing to be present to resolve a conflict, to listen to someone else's opinion even when you disagree, or be aware of feeling discomfort.
Being who we are
It is so easy to modify our view of ourselves based on others' expectations for us. Notice if you find yourself apologizing all the time, or if you compare yourself to others frequently. Sometimes we've learned to be who others want us to be for so long that we don't even truly know who we are. Take the journey to find out. It is so much more fulfilling to be yourself than a shadow version of yourself.
Let's face it, reality is sometimes pretty awful. We may not be able to face the realities in our life and our world alone, but bravery asks us to face them together. As I like to say, "Once you are open to the questions, you can start living the answers. Once you make peace with who you are and where you are, you can begin to move forward again." Some things you can face with friends and family by your side, and some things are so big and overwhelming, you may need the expertise of a counselor to titrate what you need to face. (Just remember, facing does not mean you have to re-live every detail of a difficult memory - it just means you acknowledge it so you can move forward. One of the reasons I love EMDR so much is that you can face it without being overwhelmed and it will decrease the future emotional intensity of the experience.)
Acknowledging we have needs and we need to meet them
Our society idolizes productivity, perfection, and success. No one can keep up with the expectations to be the best at everything. Being brave may mean asking for help instead of pretending like we have it all together. If we don't meet our needs, our bodies have a way of telling us and trying to meet them in unhelpful ways. Maybe we just need a good cry and a hug instead of that pint of ice cream.
To be real
Who are the people you most enjoy being with? Are they people who are comfortable in their own skin, who are real and authentic? When we are around people like that, we can't help but want more. It may not feel safe to be real with certain people. You have to decide when and how to be courageous enough to be real. Start where you'll get positive feedback and keep expanding it. Being real is worth the risk.