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Theme of the month: Bravery, August 2020

Bravery is something to cherish because it’s not available to us all the time. It seems to come in briefly, at just the right moment, but it’s fleeting. When we search for it again, it eludes us. We can never have too much bravery. It seems that we often have just enough to accomplish the risky task we hoped to overcome. What is bravery made up of? Maybe it’s a mix of confidence, thrill-seeking, competence, and risk. Luck seems to be bravery’s cousin, alighting on bravery’s shoulder at just the right moment to produce the results we are seeking. So bravery relies on several, different stars aligning, perhaps, rather than variables we can control 100%. Is that why we sometimes don’t feel brave? Because luck is an unreliable component? Sometimes it arrives in a punctual manner, showered and shined up nice. Other times it ghosts us. Just doesn’t show.

Many of us are searching for bravery right now, as we navigate the fifth month of this Covid experience. What’s unique to this quest for bravery is that it’s more about finding the courage to tolerate uncertainty. We, as humans, love to know how the story ends. Our brains love things that are clear and certain. We take so much comfort in predictability and accuracy. Hence the unrest now. For every study out there suggesting when and how a vaccine will work, multiple studies exist to refute those reports. For every school administrator suggesting that their school’s going-back-to-school-protocol is the right one, another school disagrees, saying their plans are more appropriate. Some antibody tests claim to be the very finest with 100% accuracy while certain drug companies deem those same tests unreliable. On and on it goes: t-cells, social
distancing do’s and don’ts, the safety of ventilated air on planes. It’s hard for the experts (let alone, the politicians) to agree on anything.

Perhaps this is all a test of the human species. We have become so complacent and reliant upon things being certain. Maybe one silver-lining of the Covid era will be that humans became more flexible and tolerant of the unknown. This would not be a bad thing. The toughest clients I work with are the most rigid ones, the ones who need everything in order, as planned. These folks do not do well with the demands of the unknown. Flexibility, resilience, and coping are not their hallmarks. I’ll end with this advice, especially if you are a parent: Try your best to model flexibility and comfort with not knowing what comes next, not understanding how the story ends. How do we do that? By standing firm in our roots, reminding our kids that we are there for them, and that our family is built on solid values, but can also bend in the wind, when necessary.

Good luck. 

Our monthly content is ideated and written by Cristina Young, LCSW, who has more than 25 years of experience providing professional support to children, adolescents, adults, and families.

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