The virtue of Courage


“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

Coco Chanel
Bravo to the Brave Heroes

I think it is impossible to think about this time of isolation without thinking about bravery. There is a lot of talk about the bravery of the healthcare workers and first responders during this time and rightfully so. They have been incredibly brave and selfless. This illness has frightened all of us, so it takes an enormous level of courage to go and attend to those who are infected.

This blog, however, is not about repeating that which is already being said in the media, but hopefully saying something new.

There are UNSUNG Heroes too

I would like us to discuss the different versions of bravery we have been seeing during this time. The bravery of the shop tellers where you buy your groceries. Those bravely fighting depression in isolation. The bravery of families sharing the burden of work and home-schooling. A newfound appreciation for the bravery of our teachers. Their willingness to face our obstinate children. Side note here: I am sure I am not the only one learning new things about my precious little monsters. Who knew little people could be so consistent in their stubbornness? The jury is still out on whether I am proud or horrified. Feels like lazy writing to say that I am a little bit of both.

Then there is the bravery of those dealing with loss. The loss of freedom, the loss of a loved one or those dealing with the loss of their income or business.

Fear comes in many shades of yellow

The one thing I have learnt through this coronavirus experience is the many different levels of fear that there can be around you in every day situations. Fear that you may not even be aware of. Fear that we have previously taken for granted. I have also learnt that every different type of fear, requires a different type of bravery to overcome it. Bravery or courage has become this all-encompassing fashion word, when in reality, it is a complicated thought process. Or at least, it should be.  

Do not take fear lightly

Motivational speakers and personal trainers love to throw around the phrase, “feel the fear and do it anyway”, almost as much as they love the slogan, no pain, no gain. This is all good and well when you are afraid of trying out a new pilates class. Try it. The worse that can happen is that you look ridiculous in yoga pants. Fear does take on new meaning when it involves the future of your family, your health and your financial stability.

If a caveman can, so can you

Fear is not something to be ignored. It is a biological survival instinct. If our cave dwelling ancestors just felt the fear and did it anyway, we would not be here. They would probably have been eaten, poisoned, or fallen to their deaths. Fear needs to be identified, analysed, and only then confronted, if possible. Sometimes fear is simply good common sense and the wisest thing to do, is to do nothing. How do we know which is which? We talk about it.

Break the silence

You want to talk about real fear. Tell a man he needs to tell you what frightens him. Seriously try it. I bet you will go through a list of five generic phobias before you will reach one genuine answer. Men are wonderful examples of this, but they are not unique in their reactions. The most difficult thing about fear is voicing it to others. Now that is an accurate illustration of something being ironic.

The very act of saying what frightens you already diminishes the power that fear holds over you. It is the first step in combatting fear, but it is the thing most of us fear the most. Admitting that we are afraid. Once the fear is out in the open, one can begin to disseminate it and address new ideas or strategies.

Do not be afraid of conversation

This is the type of bravery I am talking about today. The courage to have that tough conversations. Are you the one battling with decisions that frighten you? Do you know of someone else battling with fear? Have the courage to open a dialogue.

Please notice here, that I say open a dialogue. Do not hand out well meant advice. “Thank you for your unsolicited opinion on my life” said no one ever in the history of this planet. NO ONE! No matter how good the advice may or may not have been. Or however noble the intention was. Open a dialogue. Great place to start is by asking open ended questions. Questions that start with “tell me”, or “describe to me” or even, “what are your thoughts”.

“How are you doing?” is going to land you in the pointless “I am fine how are you?” territory.

Be prepared

Another thing to consider is timing. Timing and fear is like oil and water. Get it wrong and the two will never mix. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, or to tell someone you are afraid. Doing it while they are binge watching the last episode of Game of Thrones is poor timing. Pick the right time to speak to someone. Ask them when would be a good time to speak about this issue. Make it a date and prepare for it.

I am afraid

How about I take the first step? I am afraid that no one will ever read my blog. I know my fear sounds vain and sis on you for judging me😉 I am afraid that if no one reads my blog, no one will ever have these discussions. Talk about spirituality, talk about real kindness, talk about fairness or citizenship outside the realm of politics. My blog is about putting the information out there so that someone may have the courage to change the world. Does not matter how small that change may be. If no one ever reads this information, it can never be of any use. That is what I am afraid of. It is a future without change that terrifies me the most.

Bon Jovi sings, “The more things change the more they stay the same” and this is sadly true. Real change requires real courage.

The Brave are everywhere

Anyone can be brave and that it why bravery is a strength. Take Piglet for example. He is the most cautious and nervous character in Winnie the Pooh, but when his friends are in trouble, he finds the courage to brave.

‘Oh!’ said Piglet. ‘Because I – I thought I did blinch a little’… ‘You only blinched inside’, said Pooh, ‘and that’s the bravest way for a Very Small Animal not to blinch that there is.’ Piglet sighed with happiness, and began to think of himself. He was BRAVE …’ (Milne, 2007, p. 150)

I hope you will be brave this week too. TTFN.

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