“I’m scared in my gut but brave on the outside.”
My 8-year-old daughter has recently developed a fear of big, booming thunderstorms. Honestly, It surprises me because she tends to be my bold and confident child. Lately when we experience a fear-inducing storm she can logically talk through why she should not be afraid of it and yet, she is. Something deep within her currently hates the sound of thunder booming and if you add in harsh winds she is a mess!
I’ve been intentionally helping her process these fears when it is not storming, in hopes the next time she encounters a storm she will be emotionally and mentally ready to approach it differently. While we were discussing the reality of storms she said something quite profound, “the thing is, I’m scared in my gut but brave on the outside.”
Something deep within her belly is having a primal reaction to the sounds and sights of the storm. But, there is an uprising from within that is willing her to put one foot in front of the other and fight back. To me, that is the embodiment of courage.
I love how childlike faith, joy and courage can challenge us as adults.
Are you currently scared in your gut?
We all are in one way or another. We are living in a fear-laced time between a global health pandemic, pervasive social injustice issues and the reality of having to return to school and some pseudo-norm. Paired with the everyday challenges of life there is frankly a lot we can be afraid and anxious about. It can be overwhelming.
Are you brave on the outside?
When my little girl fights her fear of storms I see her willing herself to reframe what a storm means to her. What does it look like for you to be brave during this challenging time? It could be reaching out for mental health support and acknowledging it has gotten to be too much as of late. It could be choosing to turn off the TV if the news cycle is only contributing to the negative emotions you are fighting so fiercely. Being “brave on the outside” can also mean putting one foot in front of the other, and finding safe ways to embrace some semblance of normalcy in your life. Or, it could be doing research and exploring the thing that is most terrifying, so you are equipped with truth.
When I choose courage it means talking through my fears and anxieties with people I know love and support me. For me, being brave means being vulnerable. It is not about pretending it is all okay. My little girl certainly does not pretend she is comfortable in storms. But she is willing to talk about it and is open to me challenging her on her fears. Being brave means being willing to imagine that one day it can be different and she doesn’t always have to feel afraid.
Are you willing to believe that one day it can be different — and that you won’t always have to be afraid?
Storms come — and then they pass. Some stick around longer and have an intensity that can chill us to our core. But. They. Pass. When your storms pass what reflections will remain? How have you grown? How are you mentally and emotionally more prepared for the next time you encounter a storm?
The challenges of our time are nasty and gnarly. Nobody can snap their fingers and make them instantly go away. We must ride it out and we must balance the deep, primal feelings we are all experiencing with a fighting spirit that insists on courage during this time.