Where there is fear, there is an opportunity for courage.
More fear requires more courage.
What are you afraid of? You may not even be aware of the things you fear because you have altered your life to avoid them. So maybe the right question is what are you avoiding? Sometimes you don’t realize what you are avoiding until it comes knocking on your front door, so to speak.
I brought my youngest child to college this fall.
Time has passed by without my permission and knocking on my front door is a huge life transition. I don’t remember feeling afraid of this stage of life, but I certainly was avoiding imagining it.
It took a lot of courage for me to drive away after our last goodbyes outside of the dorm.
And when she called me crying a few days later, I really, really wanted to go rescue her. I calmly listened to her. I absorbed her fear and sadness. I affirmed and encouraged her. It was so difficult to do the right thing. It was brave.
Brave looks different for each person. I have done some grand gestures that took courage. I had an opportunity to do a bungee jump that was 150 feet. I was terrified! Every ounce of my body was shouting “NOOOOOO”. But my mind was saying “yes” (a much quieter, less confident voice). It took me about ten minutes to jump.
Eventually I just had to trust.
Trust, the antidote to fear. Trust comes before courage. Trust is more like the conversation in your head before you decide to be brave. Trust says “I’ll figure it out no matter what happens.” Or it says “I’ve survived harder things then this”. Trust looks like leaning on your support system and remembering your capacities. Then you take that risk, afraid still. The courage follows after you have taken the risk.
I’ve noticed many people are afraid of vulnerability. In fact, the daily struggle of letting people know the deepest parts of ourselves is much, much scarier than any one time bungee jump. It requires showing up in our own lives every day. It requires being completely authentic. We have to say (out loud) where we feel hurt, have unmet needs or admit wrongs. Can we all agree that one of the bravest things we can do is to give an honest, heartfelt apology? It takes courage to be humble.
I am watching my clients be brave in ways I deeply admire. Their courage has motivated me to be braver in my life.
In particular, I am striving to be braver in my relationships. I am growing in admitting when I am wrong. I am growing in asking for help. I am growing in naming my emotions, especially when I have felt hurt. It’s not easy. I feel a lump in my throat every time.
But I choose trust.
I trust that when I show up, the other person will show up too. I trust that even if the conversation is messy, the connection is richer. My quieter, less confident voice says “yes, I want deep connection”.
By Cyndi Benner, MA, LPC
Cyndi is “trauma certified” by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA). She brings clinical experience from the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center.
Cyndi is uniquely equipped to hold a gentle and safe space for clients to heal from difficult or traumatic experiences. In addition, Cyndi helps clients heal from troublesome childhoods, difficulties with anxiety or panic, triggers from past traumas, identifying needs, life transitions, women’s empowerment and meaning of life questions.
To schedule a session with Cyndi, contact the office manager at (847) 919-9096 ext 1, firstname.lastname@example.org