Oct 17, 2017
I have a deep admiration of police, firefighters, and the many others in emergency response jobs. I'm constantly talking about the bravery these individuals are required to have - but what is this bravery, and where does it come from? Why do some of us have it, and some of us avoid situations that require it? The words bravery and courage are interchangeable, and essentially mean, "the qualify of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear." Do I have it? Do you?
If offered the opportunity to live the life of a cop or firefighter for a week, I would not do it. I'm a helping type of person, always looking for ways to help other people. But I have no desire to jump in to a situation where bullets may be flying toward me, or flames may burn me. I also have a strong work ethic, as well as a pretty strict values system at work - but even I don't want to go to work every day where people who don't know me or the situation are going to be capturing my work decisions on video and posting them online, with my every move being open to criticism and judgment. Would you? Try having a camera in your office watching your every move and live-streaming your workday and all of your decisions. Putting yourself out there is risky.
Opening yourself up to "difficulty, danger, pain..." takes bravery. In physically challenging situations, you have to be at your best as far as strength, wellness, abilities, and skill. You get to be at your best by taking care of yourself - exercise, eating right, practicing your skill. What about emotionally challenging situations, where you have to be brave and open yourself up to difficulty, danger, or pain where your emotions and mental strength may be challenged? I don't think the bravery is any different - you have to be strong ahead of time, prepare to face the challenge, make yourself resilient so that when you endure the difficulty, danger or pain, you can take it and not let it beat you down.
Bravery involves risk. If you're someone who can physically put yourself in a situation that is high-risk, where your life may even be in danger, this requires bravery which comes from preparation. The more prepared you are for a situation, the more courage you are going to have when you face it. The same thing applies to bravery, and risk, in non-physical situations -- trauma you see at work, or maybe it's even a difficult conversation or a relationship challenge. In all of these situations, the better you prepare yourself, the stronger you will be when you face the challenge. If you don't exercise your emotional responses, feed your emotional needs, or practice managing your emotional skills, then an emotional challenge will beat you down.
While we may not all be in the line of a bullet or fire, we do all face emotionally challenging situations, which means we all have to have moments of bravery and courage. Some things you just shouldn't run from -- relationship conversations are not always pleasant, and they do sometimes feel risky. Trauma that you see on the job is not going away either, so building up your resilience, and caring for yourself as regularly as you see trauma, is a necessity. Do what's necessary to build up your strength and resilience so that you can put yourself back out there -- helping others, being someone's hero and protector.
You want to be brave - I know you do. Give yourself the tools to get there. A tree grows deep, strong roots to help feed it, keep it grounded, and make it resilient. And yet, a tree also exposes those roots, allowing outside influences to help add strength. A tree sheds its leaves during difficult months so it can focus on survival, and then when it has sunshine, water, warmth, and environmental support, it flourishes again. A tree bends with the wind, and works with the challenge rather than against it. But a tree is prepared, continuing to care for itself and keep the strength in its roots and trunk, so that when that strong wind comes, it's ready to face it. We're much like this -- we need continual care, feeding of our strength, shedding our extras when times are tough and adding them back in when we're stronger.
Bravery without preparation is foolish - but bravery, backed by strength and growth, can change the world.