When we think of bravery we usually default to an epic movie scene where the hero must leap a great chasm or thwart a fierce enemy, but in our daily reality what constitutes being brave is less 'ta da' and more true grit. One must be brave to admit that things are no longer working. It takes bravery to pack those bags and leave, with no real fall back plan. It takes bravery to take that medication. It takes bravery to say the words that need to be said, knowing they will forever change your life. Bravery, in real life, is in those moments of letting go and taking steps when you don’t know where they’ll lead.
We falsely believe that stepping into the unknown is thrilling and exciting. More often than not, it’s terrifying. We are wired to survive. We will not make a move or a change, even a good one if there is even a hint of a chance that our resources, such as they are, will be threatened. And we fear that where we will end up will be worse than where we are now. We judge those who don’t leave an abusive or toxic situation but, please, consider what it is that you are, at this moment, tolerating, because change seems so much harder than continuing to accept how you’re living.
How do you know it is time to let go? To stop tolerating? To step into the unknown? Here are just a few, common signs that it may be time to let things fall apart:
1) You’re just getting through the day.
2) You are constantly sick, tired or have chronic pain.
3) You can’t think of anything that feels fun.
4) Your constant thoughts are all critical.
5) The idea of things never changing feels painful or just plain bleak.
I witness regularly the strength in the belief of ‘not quitting,’ ‘pulling up your socks,’ ‘just trying harder.’ I see the devastating self-annihilation of that belief. Should anything worth having really be that much work? Is the thing you are fighting so hard to maintain/keep the same, really what you want?
Maybe letting things fall apart is what is supposed to happen so that it can be rebuilt better and stronger instead of merely mended, propped up or maintained. Or just maybe it’s the first step to becoming who you’re really meant to be. Sometimes the bravest thing one can do is stop trying. Take the step. Make the call. Write the letter. Stop. That’s what brave is.