How to be BRAVE!
As I look back over the stories and culture of our society over the last several decades, I have come to realize that our concept of bravery is stuck in either the World War II era or the Wild West. However, this idea that we are holding on to is not the best to have for living in our modern society. I love the old stories of great acts of bravery and believe that people should still exemplify bravery. I think it's an honorable trait that we should strive for. So in an effort to quantify this in my mind I began to examine how culture previously explained bravery to its youth as compared to what bravery looks like now. I feel that by utilizing both we can combine those ideas to have an articulation that is best for our children living in modern times.
An example of what bravery looked like in the 1930s was something along the lines of a hard working man who kept a stern face instead of complaining and going beyond the confines of typical to "save the day," whether that was in the form of rescuing a damsel in distress to fighting in war. We can all watch a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" and fully connect with this idea of bravery, of our boys running in and saving our country from possible tyranny. What has always struck me as odd, considering I was born in 1980, was that it wasn't part of bravery then to say "I'm scared." However, if those words were uttered on screen, as I'm sure they were at the actual event, we would have thought that this character was stating the obvious. However, the sons of the United States have been taught that saying "I'm scared" is the opposite of bravery. Well, any reasonable person would understand that being scared doesn't mean that one is not brave. We know all too well that many brave men and women face fears on a daily basis. So, inevitably, bravery is going forward despite one's fears. So, why is it that we imply (especially to our sons) that bravery is held in contrast to fear. As in, this concept of "just suck it up." So often I hear someone telling me about being in a war and the common response about fear is that "we just didn't talk about that." What that says to me is that brave men aren't supposed to speak about their fears, only show the "brave" front.
How about women? Women, throughout this same time frame, had a little more slack on that front. Women were "understood" to be more emotional, so they were allowed small reactions of fear. Of course they were supposed to be comforted by the brave man. Then, all was well. Lovely ideas that we had back then. How well are those ideas serving us now? And, let's be perfectly honest, how often did it actually happen that way back then? These are societal concepts that were ideal. In actuality, so many of those brave men didn't know how to comfort an emotional woman. They were out having drinks with their other brave friends!
So, how is it now in our society? Men are still raised with this idea that they need to be brave and save the day. Women are out working in "a man's world" and told that there is no place for their emotional responses in the office. Women have begun to pride themselves on becoming less emotional and putting on a "brave" face and paying bills. Has our idea of bravery gone from the external - fighting wars and fighting fires - to now being "brave" at the office and at home? No wonder we are having a bit of confusion. Men are feeling like they aren't saving anything. Women are feeling like they don't need to be saved. I believe that the problem lies in the fact that we are still using the same articulation that was used in the 1930s.
So, where do we go from here? What do we teach our children about how to be brave? Well, first I think that we've gone beyond the point where there is a gender differentiation on this topic. I believe that it's gotten to where men and women face the same sort of situations which require bravery in our modern world. (As I write this, I'm remembering the time that my god child was in the back yard playing with her toy bow and arrow like the girl on the movie "Brave.") And, I'm not talking about equality on the battlefield. Bravery is required from most of us in our daily lives. (Now, I'm thinking about driving around the city that I live in!) What I am talking about is what was missing from the old way of describing bravery, the fact that talking about the fear was taboo. Psychologically, that is not healthy and only serves to perpetuate the fear. Now, we have people who are fearing fear because they can't talk about it and it doesn't feel good. Furthermore, if they would ever get beyond the awkward and taboo of talking about fear, they simply don't know how to articulate it. They have never been taught how.
In very modern times, otherwise know as post modern, our society is having a backlash of this lack of articulation from their parents. Our boys are falling apart, not understanding how to "stand up and take it like a man" and our society looks at them as though they are aliens. Girls are "standing up for themselves" by putting a finger in the air and swaying their head back and forth. All the while our "Noble, Strong and Brave" generations are shaking their heads, and saying things like "I don't know what happened." Now is the time to look at what brave looks like for us currently, so that we can repair our homes and teach our children. The understanding of this gap begins with us.
First, we should define what brave is in our society today. Of course, we know that our police officers and firemen and our military are all brave men and women. What about our peers? What about us? In actuality, being brave looks a lot like speaking up. And not in some brazen, telling someone about themselves way, but in speaking up for ourselves. That is totally in contrast to what bravery looked like before. In fact, we were actually taught to "suck it up" and not be selfish. Our society has a problem with people who are not selfish enough and those that are too selfish. What happens is that those that are too selfish have found a way to manipulate others to feel selfish for wanting what is fair for themselves. From this we have the youth of society, who watched their parent take that, and are lashing out. The youth have this articulation that says things like "corporate greed" and "we deserve." Hmmm. Now we have a big gap in behavior between us and our kids, which emanated from not having a proper articulation ourselves and not conveying those concepts to our kids. Neither way is beneficial for society. These ideas that each generation has is somewhat extremes to each other. There is a middle ground.
The middle ground:
Saying I'm scared, opens up an opportunity for us to release the feeling of being scared. For as long as we hold onto those feeling, we will continue to feel them. Even more shocking is the fact that regardless of whether we say that we're scared or not, our kids pick up on it. (Think of those war scenes, you could see it all over their faces, we are that transparent too.) This would be the reason our kids are more and more commonly "dropping out" of their traditional roles of what was expected of them. They saw us going through verbal and mental abuse at work and in the home. Now is their time to shine. They can't face it! The idea of living like that is unbearable. Remember, they've already experienced the fear when you went through it. They know what they're up for. They take the route of self-medicating at an early age and "ruining" their lives. But let's be honest, how many adults do we know that self-medicate? The phrase "I need a glass of wine" is something we all chuckle at. However, I don't know many people who would be laughing if their 12 year old said something to the equivalent. They are experiencing our fear, frustration, pain, sorrow and our lack of ability to stand up for ourselves. They get old enough and begin self medicating, not participating in a job that would require them to undergo the same abuse and inevitably turn out worse off for their backlash. These are not happy humans. They are trying to be happy.
We have to first understand the concept of why speaking up for ourselves, articulating our fears and offering suggestions for improvement is NOT being selfish. We'll be the first to run in and defend our kid, but would we do the same for ourselves? I guess not, have you seen what women are being paid these days as compared to men? I was shocked. I thought we had come a lot farther with that. Telling someone that you are afraid of something gives them an opportunity to be supportive and offer suggestions that you may not have thought of to solve your situation. Standing up for yourself gives you an opportunity to show someone that you believe in yourself and are worth having your thoughts considered. Speaking up for yourself also alleviates the feeling of boiling over. When you speak up for yourself, you give someone the chance to respect you more. Who wouldn't want that! And who wouldn't want that for our kids? When we keep it all in, we build resentment. That's actually the definition of resentment. Most of the time, the other person doesn't even know that you feel that way. How many times have you heard a wife say "Oh, he KNOWS what he did!" How many times have you heard a husband say "I have no idea what's wrong with her!" We weren't taught to articulate those awkward feelings. The husband would go get a drink and the wife would scrub the floor with a fury and paste on a fake smile when the kids came in. The kids totally picked up on it and had a backlash from that - that generation made use of an institution called Divorce! They weren't going to live like their parents. Our kids don't want to live like us. No one is articulating a resolution - unless you decide to pay a psychologist.
It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be bold. (Can you tell I've been learning this too?) It is awkward as hell at first. But, is awkward as bad as having everything fall apart? Don't forget, it feels awkward to not say it too, we've just grown accustomed to it. I've learned that sticking with short sentences is super successful. For example, phrases like "I don't like that" or "that upset me" opens up conversations. I would have never guessed it. People I thought didn't even care if I like that or if I was upset, looked at me shocked and actually asked me "Why?" They didn't condescend or act like I shouldn't feel that way, they were legitimately curious! I was given a forum to make a suggestion and it was taken into consideration. The boiling over feeling went away immediately and my daughter never had to experience my being upset. I've notice that now that I'm calmer on the inside (I've always been calm on the outside), she is having more joy in her life. She doesn't have to deal with my vibes and hers!
Additionally, saying those things to her or in front of her allows her to learn how to begin articulating her position with others. Saying those types of things to your husband allows him to be brave at home by facing his fears (oh no! she's upset) and then saving the day by helping to make the situation better. Saying those things in our company may allow our bosses to reconsider treating us that way, and maybe we can turn around "corporate greed" from the inside by speaking up and saying that it isn't good to take money when an equivalent quality service isn't being provided.
I think of those lyrics in the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles " Say what you want to say and let the words fall out, honestly I want to see you be brave"
Maybe our new generation is learning that speaking up for yourself is the new definition of bravery.
Heather E. Cypel
Intuitive Energy Healer and Spiritual Teacher
Heather helps people who are ready to create shifts in their life to really embody their gifts and open to the amazing possibility within them. As an Intuitive Energy Healer, Heather can tap into your energy field to help you find your blocks and clear them to propel you into the life that you desire. She specializes in Soul Curriculums and existentialism so that she can explain soul lessons and what your circumstances are trying to tell you.
I love energy work! It is my passion and what I was designed to do. I also love teaching. In this blog you will find helpful information on your body systems as well as how to implement certain concepts into your life. Love and Light to you!