Thursday 3 May 2012

"It Takes Courage to be Courageous"

"Courage is not in the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." ~ Ambrose Redmoon

Courage. Hmm. What does that word really mean and who have we seen display it? Firefighters display courage every time that they respond to a call. Soldiers have to draw on their courage to go into battle. Absolutely, without a doubt, these are the people who we associate with the word courage. But I think that courage happens every day, on many levels, all around us. It's in the little girl who takes her first steps onto the school bus to head off to first grade. And it's in the person who decides to try something outside of her comfort zone.

Here's who else I think is really courageous - the person who shares a difficult experience or who stand up for what is right, even though it is scary or unpopular. Putting yourself out there is hard, especially when it's about something that people may not understand. You might get a reaction that you don't like or didn't expect.

I spoke with a friend recently who said that she was being very intentional about the people she trusted with which to share her difficult times. Although she and I have different stories, mine being depression and hers involving other life challenges, we have similar shared experiences.  One of them is that people can appear somewhat insensitive at times. For example, when I was going through the worst of my depression, some people didn't know what to say to me so, well, quite simply they decided to say nothing. Really? Yup - zip, zilch, nada. Not a single word. When someone is suffering, all they want is to know that they aren't alone and that someone, anyone, cares about them. To feel ignored or forgotten is awful and heartbreaking.

But why? Are people generally insensitive? No, not really. They just don't understand and don't know what to say so they take what seems to be the easy route - do nothing. Kind of a cop out if you ask me. Where's the courage in that? If someone displays the strength and personal courage to share a difficult experience, receive it as a gift. It means that he or she trusts you and is taking a chance that you will be there for them. It's literally a leap of faith when it's something deeply personal. So open your heart and your mind and just be present for them. Still don't know what to say? How about starting there? "I am so sorry about XYZ. I don't know exactly how you are feeling but I care about you and I am here for you." I promise, that will make a huge impact.

Next week is Canadian Mental Health Week (May 7-13) and I have a challenge for us all. Take a moment each day next week to connect with someone and I mean actually connect. No rushing past a coworker without eye contact and a smile. No brushing past the person who held the door for you without a genuine thank you. Have a real conversation with a friend - when you ask how they are, really listen to the answer. And no ignoring someone who is in pain, whatever pain that might be. Take your own leap of faith and gather your courage - I promise that we will all feel better!

KB xo

For information about Canadian Mental Health Week and what you can do to affect change in your life and the lives of others, check out these websites:

Canadian Mental Health Association website:
Not Myself Today:

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