The Definition of Genuine Bravery

woman on top of a montain watching the landscape
Oct 11, 2019 | Sara Khaki

Don’t Keep Your Fears Hidden Away in the Dark

With Halloween on the horizon, images of ghosts, goblins, vampires, and monsters might be making their way into your dreams. You might be staying up late to watch suspense thrillers, running through corn mazes with your teenage kids, or reimagining your front porch as a Victorian haunted house to frighten trick-or-treaters at the end of the month, but, regardless of how you celebrate this spooky holiday, you’ll notice at the heart of all Halloween festivities is one specific feeling: fear.

Fear plays an interesting role in our lives. While we might regard some of our greatest fears as irrational, fear does cause a real biological reaction in our bodies, and, when those scary feelings stick with us long term, they can cause a lot of psychological turmoil. For example, if you’ve been considering making a huge relationship or marital change in your life, you might experience stress, anxiety, or even body aches every time the thought merely enters your mind. Hidden within this potential separation or divorce are fears of losing custody of your kids, losing your house, or angering your family and friends.

What do we often do when these fears enter our minds? We shut them away in the dark, and they grow into this big scary monster we spend the bulk of our lives running away from.

With this monster tucked away, we might momentarily convince ourselves we are safe from all our fears, but it’s only a perceived state of safety. Your mind tries to lie to you by convincing you that regardless of how dysfunctional your relationship becomes, status quo is safety, and anything outside of that is terrifying. The mind doesn’t like change, so it will do all it can to maintain a current situation and keep the monster hidden in the dark.

What’s worse is we convince ourselves that by not acknowledging this monster, we are being brave when the opposite is actually true. Genuine bravery stems from staring your fears in the face and working through them, and once you’re able to do that, you stop the monster from growing and render it powerless.

The best way to approach this process is by imagining your worst-case scenario and considering all the things that would have to happen to reach that point. For example, if your big scary fear in a divorce would mean you’ll no longer get to see your kids, then you need to think about every step that would have to happen in order for you to lose your parental rights. The truth is, barring severe mental illness, substance abuse, or child abuse, it’s almost unheard of for a parent to lose the right to see their children even in the emotionally fraught custody battles. Like anything else in life, it helps to have an expert work through these fears with you by providing rational logic. Nothing quiets self-doubt faster than legitimate evidence and helpful information.

If you know that deep down, you are avoiding a great fear, then you need to recognize the longer you keep this fear hidden in the dark, the stronger it becomes. By shining a light on it and addressing it straight on (either on your own or with a counselor, a legal consultant, a financial advisor, etc.), you diminish its power. No matter what you’re afraid of, the team here at ADLG wants you to know you are capable of working through it. Don’t close your eyes or run away when fear comes calling. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open, and you’ll be just fine.

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