“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones 

How do we learn to be brave? Resilient? To bounce back?  Courage is sometimes innate. Some of us are born more intrepid than others.  But our natural fortitude is shaped and tempered by those around us. Our parents (or other folk who loom large in our childhood) play a key role.  

This brief video is a fine example.  The 7 year old is discussing a painful orthodontic visit with his mother.  Let's listen.  

Hi It's Owen I got expanders today.
And how long are you going to have to wear them?
I'm going to have to wear them for...about one year."
Yup. And were you brave?
Sort of.
Are you glad it's over?
Yeah.  I had to...because when they were putting it in, it already hurt, cause they already tried once but it didn't work the first time.
But you went back and did it again, right?
But I went back and did it again. 
Because you're...?
Because I'm tough.  Bye! 

Notice his mother's response when he says he has to wear the expanders for a year. "Yup." So matter of fact.  A 3 letter reply that manages to convey  Acceptance.  Equanimity And firm confidence that Owen is up to the task.

She doesn't tell him it won't hurt.  Or the year will go by quickly.  Owen tells her it hurt because the first effort at insertion was unsuccessful. "But you went back and did it again, right?" she reminds him.  She mirrors his own resilience back to him.

Were you brave?
Sort of.

As George Martin reminds us in Game of Thrones, the only time we CAN be brave is when we're scared.  Bravery isn't the lack of fear-it's continuing to act in the face of fear and pain. Soldiering on. Persevering. Going back and doing it again, even when you know it's going to hurt. Forging ahead. Because as Owen would say, I'm tough. Bye! 


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