Noticing an extraordinary silence from the usually talkative child
in the back seat, the mother turned briefly to check on her daughter.
Tears were streaming down the child's face.
"What's wrong, honey?" asked the mother.
Gulping back her tears, the girl answered. "Mommy ... Sometimes
it's very hard to be brave.
How often we lose sight of this basic truth. Sometimes it IS very
hard to be brave. This is as true for adults as it is for children.
And it is good to remember.
My friend Cathy had been told the story of this child by a
co-worker. The story was a gift to Cathy, giving her a kind of
permission to be afraid. Cathy was facing her own trials and, even
though her intellect was simply going forward, taking care of
business, I think it was important to acknowledge her own fears. By
locating what she feared and admitting that she was afraid she opened
herself to her own vulnerability and a greater acceptance and
possibility for her own strengths.
Being brave is not about knowing no fear, but rather it is a way
of being with and in fear. When we humans are fearful, we generally
fight, take flight, or freeze in place. Much of this is automatic
response. However, we can change this.
To deny our own fear, while sometimes looking brave, is really
just denial, nothing more. It is a form of flight. In denial we
become isolated from our own feelings and thus cut off from their
usefulness to us. Our very awareness is curtailed and responses may
be limited to reactive ones, having nothing to do with who and how we
want to be.
Another automatic response -- this one in the fight mode -- might
be anger. There is a saying about anger. When I am angry three things
are true: I want something I am not getting. I want someone to take
care of this. I am about to do or say something that will guarantee I
won't get it.
We have all seen blustering anger masquerading as bravado. Again,
not what we would choose for ourselves and not really effective.
And to freeze in the face of fear -- unable to make any move --
leaves us to the whim of circumstance and completely powerless. This
automatic response is really an abdication, another form of the
If we do not face our fears, they seem to have a tendency to
multiply and even at times take over. It is only through locating the
fears and picking our way through the mine field of them that we
become strong. The positive, chosen actions that are true to our
intention for our lives bring with them further courage, strength and
flexibility. These actions produce a power like no other--the power
So yes, it is sometimes very hard to be brave, but well worth the
intentional undertaking of the conquest of fear. To be brave often is
viewed as indicating a lack of fear. In fact, bravery is a resolute
mastery of fear and intelligent use of our faculties in the very face
of it. And that is, truly, sometimes very hard. Out of the mouths of
* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer, artist, and
walker who lives and works in Laguna Beach. To schedule a coaching
session or to comment, contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by phone at (949) 251-3993.