The Brave You

Tracee Ellis Ros spoke at Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit. She spoke about being a successful woman, owning her power and sexuality. She spoke about living for herself rather than trying to fulfill society and culture’s expectations for her. It is an excellent, inspiring speech well worth the time to watch or read it.

One point in particular inspired this post.

She spoke about bravery.

Bravery allows one to face danger, pain and difficulty without being overcome by fear.

I participated in a group for therapists on Racial Literacy. The leaders would frequently remind us to strive to create a “Brave Space,” not a “Safe Space.” We need this reminder because most of us have a fear of conflict and would tend to hide and suppress our honest thoughts and feelings, rather than risk saying something hurtful or inflammatory.

We were privileged and lucky to be risking so little.

Historically women, people of color, people with more fluid gender/sexual identities, and other marginalized populations risked their lives and the lives of those they cared about when they dared to be themselves and to speak their truth. We’ve inherited a more free society because of their sacrifice. Of course, there’s always more work to do.

So how do you become brave?

In Group, you have the opportunity to take risks. You can allow yourself to feel and to put into words what might have been dangerous to express in the past or in other environments. In on-going groups, members agree to keep coming until their issues are resolved. This means that you have the security that no matter how your words affect the other person, they will keep showing up. Week after week, you will have the opportunity to better understand yourself and each other. The more suppressed, marginalized parts of yourself will have a chance to be seen and heard. You’ll be less afraid of these hidden parts of yourself and less afraid of these parts in others.

And sometimes, the fear will still be overwhelming, no matter how much work you’ve done. You’ll regress, make a cowardly choice, retreat from life’s challenges. When that happens, the other group members will be there to listen, to gently or not so gently remind you of what you’re capable of and to share their own struggles with being brave.

Do you have a story about being brave?

I would love to hear it.





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