Today, I want to talk to you guys about a misconception that is fracturing our perspectives on recovery. When I ask you what courage means, what would you say?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer had something to do with having no fear at all. I think we as a society can sometimes get swept away by this idea that to be brave and to be courageous one must have an absence but that simply just isn’t true.
We all feel fear. It’s a perfectly human response to something that we deem dangerous, scary or unnerving. That does not falter from the people who put their lives on the line everyday for our safety, or to the people are fighting with mental illness, chronic illnesses or possibly fatal diagnoses.
Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let your fear stop you.
There was an EMDR session I did a little while ago where I was doing a future template (I will explain more about that later) for my first plane trip in about 10 years. I was petrified, almost having panic attacks just by thinking of airplanes.
As my counselor and I were discussing the reasons I was scared she asked me why I thought I wasn’t brave enough to handle the plane ride. I listed off a plethora of reasons, all about how I feel out of control, panicked and scared, which means I can’t be brave.
She asked me a follow up question: “Well, then why are you taking the trip in the first place?”
I answered: “Well I can’t let my paranoia and anxiety keep my husband from doing what he loves. I don’t want to be grounded by this anymore.”
She looked at me and told me that what I had just described WAS bravery. It was knowing I was scared, knowing I didn’t want to do it, but deciding I had to do it anyways.
Being courageous and brave is hard, because it’s putting aside everything that we think is scary and finding a way to persevere. For you Harry Potter fans, think of Neville Longbottom. He always, no matter what, would stand up for what was right, despite being terrified of the outcome. I’m pretty sure he had a moment like that in every movie, and I think we could all strive to a little bit like Neville.
Fear is a completely normal response in the face of overcoming our biggest struggles, and you shouldn’t let this notion that “you aren’t brave” be the reason you don’t begin to recover. Has anyone ever told you that you are brave just by living with the struggles you do? It takes a lot of strength and courage to continue facing the world when very little people understand your struggles.
You are brave, you are strong and you can do this.
Find something that scares you, no matter how small, and tell yourself that you’ll try to conquer it. It’s okay that you’ll feel scared, but remember being brave isn’t about having no fear; it’s about finding a way to do what you want to do despite being scared.
Until next time, Internet.
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Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.