I would love to skydive out of a plane! It is on my bucket list. But is it brave if I do it? For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed pushing my physical limits and gone for the mountain climbing and abseiling and rollercoaster rides. I was always the silent one with a smile on my face, next to the screamers! But was it brave?
According to the VIA Institute, "to be brave is to face your challenges, threats, or difficulties. It involves valuing a goal or conviction and acting upon it, whether popular or not. A central element involves facing – rather than avoiding – fears." Read more here. So actually I don't think my physical endeavours were particularly brave. Why? Because I didn't have any fears. It wasn't challenging or threatening for me to go on those adventures. When I got to thinking about that, I realized that there is a misconception about bravery amongst us. If we really break down that definition, we see simply that if you have a fear and you face it, you are being brave!
Jumping into burning buildings has never been my thing, although I believe I would do so to rescue somebody. There is a distinction there and also an overlap. The distinction is between the types of bravery. I would do it as an act of moral bravery - doing what's right even in the face of a challenge. The overlap is that the choice would be to perform the physical act of going into that burning building with the intention of being morally brave. There is also a third type of bravery, called psychological bravery, that involves challenging self-reflection.
So where is bravery in my life then? Well, for me, being brave is about doing something differently. We all form many habits in our lifetime and we become super comfortable carrying on with these habits, even if we know they are detrimental to us physically, mentally and/or emotionally. The power of comfort is so strong that it can easily keep us in our little circle and never moving forward. Being brave can look like taking the smallest step from the outside, but can make such a profound internal change. We move forward by very slowly stretching our comfort zone. And when what used to be uncomfortable becomes the norm, we choose to stretch even further. In that way, we are always challenging ourselves, always being brave, and always growing.
Two days ago, I made a brave choice. For years I have nagged that I am not present in any of our family photos. I let myself reach a state of panic that if, God forbid, something were to happen to me, my children are so young that they would forget about our memories because no one is taking pictures of us! I took a moment and realized I was going way too far from what I wanted. What I want is for these memories to be preserved. Time for me to take that control into my own hands. So yesterday, I started taking selfies of me and the kids in the morning. It feels sooooooo good! The challenge that I was brave enough to overcome was making the mental switch from depending on, and blaming, others, to choosing what I could do to get my goals met. So we start with our morning selfies, and with each photo, my brave choice will give me more confidence to continue and to expand that mindset into even more of my choices.
What brave choices will you be making?
I am a certified positive psychology life coach, co-founder of Soul Space, and certified children's yoga instructor. Find out more about my coaching approach here:
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