Being Brave Requires Being Vulnerable
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”- Nelson Mandela
Bravery is not something to be attained from a safe distance, but requires moving beyond your comfort zone.
The act of bravery signifies bold action, amidst the backdrop of fear and uncertainty.
Fear dominates people’s lives because of the perceived consequences. They cower in resignation, preferring the comfort of their known environment.
Yet, being brave invites you to reach beyond your safety net, not to plunge recklessly into uncharted territory, for that would be imprudent.
Recall the last time you summoned bravery?
What skills or lessons did you gain that are relevant today?
I appreciate Chögyam Trungpa’s thoughtful words in Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery: “The ultimate definition of bravery is not being afraid of who you are.”
Bravery is a call to connect with your deepest wisdom. It requires identifying your protagonist that lies dormant within.
Firefighters, paramedics and soldiers are brave because they face life-threatening circumstances everyday. The firefighter attends to the scene of a vehicle accident knowing in any moment the car could be engulfed.
Bravery can manifest in less noticeable ways. To pursue your dreams despite your family’s protests shows courage, since you are guided to pursue your truth despite their objections.
“We want to be brave, and deep inside we know that being brave requires us to be vulnerable,” affirms author Brené Brown in Rising Strong
Courage is expressed through your actions and words. To live a rewarding life on your terms instead of being dictated by other people, represents daring bravery. Similarly, voicing your disapproval when you are wronged underscores the willingness to be treated with respect.
It is no surprise public speaking is considered a leading fear for many, yet for professional speakers being on stage is an opportunity to indulge their talents and genius. They are moved by passion and purpose rather than dictated by fear. What is frightening for some is exhilarating for others.
Sometimes the greatest acts of courage emerge from the smallest deeds. To apologise for unintentionally hurting somebody invites you to be vulnerable when it matters.
Fear Is An Illusion Dictated By Your Past
“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” — Aristotle
Bravery is apparent when you express your deepest convictions. This generates authentic communication with others, instead of being guided by their opinions.
Author and Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron reminds us that bravery is taking action in spite of fear: “So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”
Life offers multiple opportunities to choose bravery or endure defeat. Contained within those moments you discover the depth of your being.
As emotional creatures humans are vulnerable to hurt and rejection, especially when their self-worth is at stake. Bravery allows you to overcome your inner Demons and emerge victorious with your self-esteem intact.
Brené Brown states: “The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.”
Ultimately, when you abide by your innate truth and deepest conviction, you needn’t concern yourself how others perceive you.
Whilst it is uncertain, fear is an illusion dictated by your past. Many equate failure with lack of courage because it compromises their self-worth. Equating self-worth to failure is futile to your long-term happiness. You must avoid associating failure to a lessened self-worth because the two are mutually exclusive.
Bravery emerges when you acknowledge your weaknesses and insecurities. Vulnerability, despite its association is not a sign of weakness. It is a symbol of courage, because you express authenticity to others by revealing your weakness. In doing so, you invite those you trust to honour their authentic nature through a shared experience.
I am drawn to Dr. Alex Lickerman’s affirmation in The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self: “If we want to be courageous, we should figure out what other people do to make us feel brave and trigger them to trigger that. If we want to be our best selves — in other words, the selves we like the most — we should aim first to pull the best selves we can out of the people around us.”
Equally, to admit one’s mistakes such as, “I’m sorry” shows your humaneness. You deepen your connection to others, allowing them to be less stoic and more genuine.
Bravery is a continued commitment to venture beyond your comfort zone when you’re reluctant. In doing so, you confront your fears instead of remain safe in a comfortable space.
Being brave from a safe distance does not reinforce courage, it only strengthens your fears.
You must navigate the path from weakness to bravery and discover a new world that underpins your strengths and inner wisdom.
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Originally published at medium.com