Show me how big your brave is...


It was 11pm last night and I was just getting settled to go to bed when a question popped into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone.

“What does being brave mean to me, and how can I show up ‘bravely’ in my life”.

I have no idea whatsoever why that question popped into my head, but as it did I also had the soundtrack ‘Brave’ by Sara Barielles playing through my mind… hence the quote.

When we are younger our parents often say ‘be brave’ when we fall over and scrape a knee, to help try and stop our tears. Or when we need to go to the hospital or the doctors to have a procedure that might be painful.

Being brave in the face of pain is a very traditional association, but I think it goes much deeper than this in how we show up in the world as we get older and more of societies expectations bear down upon us.  It is also hugely different for every individual. For example I personally had to be ‘braver’ travelling abroad on my own for the first time than I did when I skydived from 12,000 feet, but for many people the fear factor in these activities would be reversed. Interesting!

Is bravery directly associated with overcoming fear? 

Is bravery a direct correlation to the level of unknown and uncontrollable outcomes and moving forward regardless?

For me, bravery is about stepping beyond your personal comfort zone… that’s where the fear factor and the unknown both lie. Being ‘brave’ can show up in the smallest of actions; allowing vulnerability and simply speaking out loud what’s on your mind instead of holding it inside is often a huge act of bravery. It’s then often a stepping stone to much bigger shifts in your life… it sets the ball rolling.

This is something I have been experimenting with a lot recently... sometimes I find myself going a bit too far, feeling the fear kick in- the sicky feeing in the pit of the stomach (yeah that's my physiological marker of bravery!) and then needing to pull back to breathe and recalibrate, but that's ok... it shows me that I am on the right path! Interestingly, an act of bravery once concluded, is often followed with a flood of relief and endorphins and also thoughts of ‘that wasn’t so bad after all’.  

When I looked up the dictionary definition of ‘brave’ it gave me this: “Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. Interestingly it also noted that ‘brave new world’ is used to refer, a little ironically, to a new and hopeful period in history resulting from major changes in society.

So for me, bravery creates a realignment, and our new zone of comfort is pushed that little bit wider through stepping out in to that space.

How do you define bravery and how can you recognise and harness this in your life?


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