I have never been particularly at ease with stepping out of my comfort zone. At least not personally. Professionally I think outside the box, question the status quo, press for change when change is needed. But in my personal life, making big changes, asking for help and showing vulnerability make me so uncomfortable that I have often avoided them, usually to my detriment.
Recently, however, I had to be very brave and do all three of these very uncomfortable things. I was in a situation that was not only keeping me from living as fully as I want to, but it was also leading me to unhealthy places. I am remaining intentionally vague here as my decision, no matter how brave I believe it to be, has impacted the lives of others and I want to respect their privacy.
The change was a big one. I stepped out and did something I have never done before. It has impacted every aspect of my life as I have known it for the past twenty years. Why? Perhaps I just came to a place where I recognized that if I didn’t do the hard thing, I would never be who I want to be. Perhaps I am at that point in mid-life where the Universe gives a nudge and reminds us that we have this beautiful life and we have to choose how we want to live it. If our actions are not consistent with our values, how can we honour the life we have? So I made some changes. They are hard to deal with some days, but others are empowering and I feel great peace.
In making these changes, I had to ask for help. I have no choice but to acknowledge and accept that I can not do it all alone. People have been decidedly kind, offering support where I need it, offering their time, supporting me by listening or sharing their advice. I used to believe that to ask for help was to show weakness. Maybe you have felt this way? Nothing could be more untrue. To ask for help is to take a risk. Taking a risk is both brave and strong.
In order to ask for help (and to accept it) I have been vulnerable. I have shared my struggles, both here and in person with those I trust. I have shared my failures and my fears. I have done so with the knowledge that sharing this vulnerable side may lead others to see me differently – to see me as incapable or less competent. By allowing myself to be vulnerable, by sharing my story of struggle and how I am learning to overcome, I have received such a gift. I have received the gift of common humanity. People have been brave enough to share with me the ways in which they too have faced and overcome challenges. I am so grateful for their trust in me, and their willingness to be vulnerable.
Ashley Hurst is a counsellor in London with Soulful Wellness Counselling. Each week on the Soulful Wellness Facebook page, Ashley posts a five minute video (Five-Minute Friday) in which she shares her thoughts and wisdom on the topics we need to hear about. This week, Ashley shared a video about bravery, specifically about how we create safety in order to be brave. You can check out her video here, and while you’re there, take a look at her other videos. I am confident you will find nuggets of wisdom and a-ha moments in every one. Ashley ended her video this week with a simple, yet profound statement.
“What’s more brave than being human?”
I love this. We don’t have to do wondrous feats, run into burning buildings or change the world to be brave. Although I do appreciate those who do those things. The bravest thing we can do is to embrace our humanity and show up, flaws and all, to be seen and to see others.
Forty-Five Things is more than just a checklist of things I want to accomplish. I may or may not complete them all before my 46th birthday. Ultimately, it has been about stepping out, showing up, getting uncomfortable and being brave. I am grateful for that and for all who have been following this journey with me.
One of my other favourite people, Brene Brown reminds us that “Owning our story, and loving ourselves through that process, is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
How will you be brave today? How can you own your story in a way that feels both safe and loving? How will you embrace your humanity this week?