Do you experience secretly brave moments?
You know those small, daring steps you take that no one else would regard as colossal, but for you, a very deep breath is required as you step out of a super-familiar box?
There was that time you added a belt to your outfit. Prior to that, you’d refused to accentuate your equator because “I have no waistline, why would I want to usher attention there?”
But one day, you noticed a woman with (in your humble opinion) no reason to celebrate her waistline, and she draped hers with something colorful. You were amazed! She looked terrific!
This inspired you to reconsider your opinions about waistlines. You walked into your closet the next morning and retrieved the lovely chain belt hanging in the farthest corner. Buoyed by confidence, throwing all caution to the wind, you decorated the middle of you as if to say, “Look here. This part of me is worthy and beautiful, too.”
For you, it was a liberating moment. A small act of bravery.
Last week you took a bite of food you swore you’d never eat. And no, it wasn’t extreme (no chocolate covered insects or any such thing). You took a courageous bite of okra, and it wasn’t intolerably slime-y after all. And on top of that, this week you tasted (quite timidly, but still….) shirred eggs baked in cream with soft yolks. Until now you’d only said yes to scrambled.
See what I mean? Monumental to you, but not to plenty of other people.
ONE SMALL STEP.
I’m a fall color person (think golds, browns, greens and certain reds) and I’ve (gasp) just traded my old car for a blue pearl Honda Civic. The cover of my upcoming poetry book is (double gasp) blue also — dark blue at the bottom, graduating to a light-filled blue toward the top.
These are quite astounding moves on my part, don’t you think, given my hazel eyes and my preference for dark chocolate brown or deepest-ever green?
Think about it. In the itty-bitty-est way, in my world, I’m turning a corner, stepping out, trying something new.
There’s no question that my “blue thing” is tiny brave. It’s the kind of moment where (I’m quite sure) you’re saying “what’s the big deal, blue is so ordinary and I have a lot of it. I’ve been a fan of blue for years.”
But for me, Ms. Fall Colors herself, I’m having a full-on inner hero experience for welcoming blue more personally rather than keeping it at arm’s length.
Are these small moments insignificant?
I think not.
One small step in the direction of inclusion (an open mind) is — possibly — everything.
Perhaps small steps by individuals influence our world more than we think. Maybe our changes on a small scale help balance the larger scale in the world.
There’s another reason as well.
Do small acts of bravery inspire larger ones?
I believe they do.
Bravery (any size and shape) comes up quite often in consulting sessions with individuals and couples. Typically, we start small and work our way up.
In a couple’s session just the other day (it was their #3) opening to new points of view rose front and center. Both of them had practiced small acts of bravery in previous sessions and they were ready for bigger bravery.
(Also, both the man and woman had breakthroughs in this session, but due to length, today I’ll share only hers.)
After hearing what was upsetting her, I made a suggestion. At first she recoiled. She refused to consider that her current point of view was one possibility among many available to her.
So, we explored. Gently. We poked around in her sense of understanding about their relationship.
We considered questions such as, “What else could it be? What other ways could a person interpret this situation? Could it be there’s more to the story? And if so, what might that be?”
She opened. Considered. Re-thought a well-practiced reaction to her husband. She willingly examined her present decisions about him, and her conclusions.
That was brave.
And that was not small.
PATTERNS SHE WANTED HELP WITH.
One basic pattern. He’s not talking to me when I want him to, and therefore he doesn’t love me. Why are we together? What’s the point of this relationship if we can’t even talk about what I want to talk about?
Here’s another one. He did this _____. Which was totally inconsiderate of him. If he loved me he wouldn’t treat me that way, say that or do that. It’s clear he doesn’t love me, so why should I care about him? His actions (ignoring, not talking to me) feel like punishment. I’m going to punish him back.
Here’s a third. He embarrasses (frustrates, angers, annoys) me in this way _____. He should do this instead _____. He refuses to take my suggestions, though. Because he’s not changing his ways, he doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t love me. Which hurts too much. I’m shutting down and it’s his fault.
Do you think those are pretty important patterns when it comes to having a nurturing, satisfying, evolving love relationship?
(If you nodded yes, I’d certainly agree with you.)
As it turns out, when she slowed her thoughts, when she took time to breathe about her situation, she (at first cautiously) considered the idea that her husband might not be doing what she thought he was doing.
She considered that there might be other ways of interpreting his actions, other than hers.
As she contemplated all of this, she was willing to realize that if her observations of his actions weren’t fully accurate, her conclusions couldn’t be accurate, either.
At one point, she realized with all of her heart that he might not be wrong. Her inner-heart-light- bulb went on.
(Which caused her to reach for the Kleenex.)
Which then caused her to question other aspects of her thinking. Such as — maybe he wasn’t against her after all.
(At least a two Kleenex moment.)
Her heart opened. She softened. Became more receptive.
She also realized how different her husband (naturally) was from her, that he (naturally) had different priorities, different motivations. That he would (naturally) prefer to talk to her, actually…
(On, forget one or two tissues. We’re up to Kleenex by the handfuls…)
Further, maybe he supports and loves her, and there are many ways he expresses that each and every day — and she misses them.
She hasn’t been looking for ways he loves her and shows her his love. She’s been looking for what’s wrong with the relationship — in order to correct those things, in order to improve the relationship.
She’s attempting to do good. Her efforts are well-intended. But her approach naturally backfires because her intelligence finds whatever she’s looking for. She finds what’s “wrong” with their relationship. We’re all good at finding what we’re looking for.
Essentially, she discovered that what she had thought was happening between them wasn’t the whole story. There was much more going on than she had imagined. Most importantly, she was missing out on the good parts of their story by putting the better part of her attention on what was lacking or wrong.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT.
Will there be a positive ripple effect in her world because of her revelations about where she had been placing her attention?
We shall see.
Does this brave change of hers matter not at all?
Or is it everything?
So far, it’s heading toward “everything.”
The healing energy of a personal revelation flows outward. Sometimes it’s a wave of calm. Other times, graciousness, love, compassion.
At the end of the session, this couple’s wave was one of intimacy and understanding. They held hands, kept the Kleenex close, and looked forward to what else they could discover about their love in the coming days.
One thing I know for sure.
The ripple effect of her inner shift, whatever that will eventually be, will offer clear evidence that the foundation for world peace, love and understanding begins in our own home.