How We Become Brave

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Bravery is not just for the courageous.  It’s a subjective idea defined when we break habitual ways of thinking or being.  Most often, it’s a matter of going against the grain in small and large ways.  And sometimes, bravery is actually fear in disguise.

Have you ever done something that friends or family told you was brave and courageous?  Were you surprised to find that when you viewed the situation from their perspective, your actions definitely seemed brave, but courage was the last thing on your mind when feeling compelled to do it.  You may even have done the thing out of fear and avoidance of an outcome.

You quit your job because you felt that the company might be struggling to stay afloat.

You dove in front of a car to save a toddler.

You moved to a new country to avoid stagnating in your current situation.

You went to war to defend your home, or avoid more terrorizing.

Bravery is a label we tend to place on actions which are out of the ordinary and not aligned with what your friends and family, or those in your immediate circle, think is the ‘usual way to go about it’.  And it often happens when we’re compelled toward an action we take to avoid what we see as a more negative circumstance.

But besides avoidance, there’s another way to grow what looks like active courage.

Our friends and family shape our lives through their proximity.  We become what we and the people in our environment always do, always see, or think.  And if we don’t actively seek out new circumstances, we have no exposure to new activities, new ways of thinking and being.  This means that the easiest way to what looks like bravery is to seek out the people who are doing what it is you’d like to try.

Does skydiving appeal to you?  Find an online group of skydivers.

Want to learn to compete in salsa dancing?  Join a group of locals who compete already.

Do you really wish you could move to another state?  With social media’s ability to bring people together based on interests rather than proximity, this should be an easy task.

Want to keep your country safe?  Join the thousands in the military who know how to train you.

If there’s anything you’d like to do but see as a risk because none of your friends and family do it, go find the people who do.  Hang around them until you feel comfortable with their language and terminology, with their situations, and their advice to newbies.  Let them carry you in their flow of ideas and ways of seeing the world.

For anything we’d like to become brave enough to do, there are others out there already doing it.  We just haven’t been exposed to it enough yet.

It’s guaranteed that those in your current circles will find your new interests to be bold and brave.  And they will be.

In the meantime, the first step of finding your tribe is the leap, and your newfound friends will help you shape your new experiences into your new norm.

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