One of the things I love about psychology is the chance to routinely sit with really brave people. These aren’t necessarily the folks who do dangerous jobs or who would be recognized as “brave” outside of therapy. In fact, many of my clients believe that they are ordinary, or broken in some critical way. But the truth is, we are all broken. Most of us who have lived long enough have been broken in some critical way at least a few times throughout our lives. I know I have. Being brave isn’t about painting your face blue or rushing into battle.
Being brave, at least in my book, is allowing yourself to sit down and face your own broken pieces. To come to terms with the pain that you have lived through–or are living through. It means having the courage to acknowledge that, alongside your brokenness, you also have some fantastic qualities, things that make you interesting, worthy and meaningful in the world.
Because we live in a culture that tells us we aren’t all of those things. In fact, our society likes to celebrate someone interesting and then tear them down when their brokenness & humanity show up, along with their talent. So, when you take the time to face your pain, and then to discover the strength underneath it, you are being courageous and counter-cultural.
Being brave includes being willing to cry, or shout, or question. It isn’t some fake front. It means standing up and owning your imperfections, acknowledging your struggle, and still finding joy and making beauty anyway.
Every person who chooses therapy is meeting my definition of bravery, just by walking in the door. Because the work that we do here is hard. It can get messy. And it’s not how you normally interact with people. (Who else do you know who buys her tissue by the case?) Coming here is an act of courage. Imagine what else you can do, now that you’ve gotten in touch with your inner brave person!
How have you been brave recently? What do you want help in finding your brave for? Feel free to share in the comments. Oh, and for some bravery inspiration, here is Sara Bareilles performing her fabulous song “Brave.”
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave — Sara Bareilles