Safe vs. Brave

Last weekend, I went to see Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. At the end of the movie, Jacob laments that he will not be able to keep the children safe anymore. Emma replies, “You don't have to make us feel safe, because you've made us feel brave.” 

I love that.

The shift from clinging to safety, to living bravely is powerful.

And not easy.

At all.

When I focus on wanting safety, my world constricts.  I get more fearful, more paranoid, more controlling.  I want to mircomanage myself and others.  I start looking for predictability and structure.  I become more rigid. Brittle. I become smaller.

When I focus on being brave, my world expands.  I breathe into my chest and stand up a little straighter. A little taller. I see more possibilities. I feel stronger. I respect myself more.  I find myself more able to flex with all that life sends my way.  I become bigger.

Regular practices that can support this shift (...if you so choose)?  

 1. Hear Feelings and Needs.

Someone in practice group recently said, “I used to think that a feeling was something that only happened when I hit my thumb with a hammer.”  Contrast that with the growing realization that our feelings are alive all the time, like a soundtrack to our lives.  Turn up the volume on your feelings and needs: become aware of them, name them, track them, process them.

2. Your Inner Witness.

Watch everything with acceptance and curiosity. With increased awareness, comes increased choicefulness and creativity.

3. Chill Out.

Learn to stop bossing yourself and others around so much.  Instead, make requests and offer invitations. Be collaborative.  Be respectful of other subjectivities.

Over time ...

  • We start expressing ourselves in more empowered, clearer and more loving ways.
  • We start hearing what others actually mean instead of getting distracted by their poor delivery.
  • As we start honoring our own feelings and needs, we increase our capacity to empathize with others’ feelings and needs.
  • Our relationships shift from habits of shame, blame, defense and control, into habits of connecting, reflecting, allowing and loving.

Gradually, we realize that we have started living from a new internal paradigm ...

  • Our once high needs for safety or predictability, transform into self-trust, confidence and empowerment.
  • Situations that used to generate fear and anxiety, no longer have the same grip on us.
  • We are able to experience pleasant and unpleasant feelings, and remain happy, centered, clear, choiceful and loving.
  • We experience unmet needs, but still stay creative and non-reactive internally.
  • We have the capacity to be brave in the face of all that life throws at us.

Our reptilian brains are wired to constantly scan for danger and to thrive on routine and predictability. Be gentle and loving towards this part of yourself, but don’t let it run your life.  Decisions made when we are in our defense fight/flight/freeze states tend to be fear-based, self-sabotaging and insulated.

Instead, harness the power of your limbic system (the seat of empathy), your neocortex (your meaning-making problem-solver) and your pre-frontal lobes (your inner visionary and most inspired self.)  Being brave opens you up for so much more vitality and living, than settling for just feeling safe.  

 

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Relationships are the foundation of well-being. Join me in bringing more empathy, acceptance, and service into the world.  What one step can you take this week, that moves you closer to living the life you are truly longing for?

What one step?