I’m Not Brave

Photo of Change Coach Becky paragliding above mountains

Today’s article was written by Change Coach Becky Gagnon


The other day, I went paragliding.


It was spur-of-the-moment decision. While traveling in Switzerland, I took a bus to Chamonix for the day, just to see the cute little Alpine ski town. I figured they’d have good chocolate or something.


I got off the bus, and breathed in the mountain air and stared appreciatively at the famous Mount Blanc. And then I turned around and saw some little parachutes floating adorably in the sky. Paragliders.


Priority zero was coffee. But after that, I wasn’t sure what to do. So I decided to go check out that little floaty-chute situation.


I chatted with the girl at the booking counter, “I don’t suppose you have any open space for tandem paragliding today…” hoping she’d confirm my assumption.


She answered, “Actually, a large group just canceled, so you’re in luck! Are you able to go right now?”




“Yeah, sure!”


I don’t know why certain words come out of my mouth sometimes.


Instantly my brain started telling me how stupid I was being. How I was going to die, or worse- get injured. Familiar mind-playlists berated me for being irresponsible… too impulsive… “how much does a broken leg cost to fix in France?”… “how many times has this pilot flown?”… “I’m probably too heavy; they won’t be able to steer properly”… “This injury will ruin my friend’s itinerary too. I’m so selfish.”…


All of these thoughts were happening, and simultaneously, I was handing over my credit card, greeting my pilot, and walking up to the gondola that would haul me up to the cliff that I would later “willingly” run off.


Afterwards, I posted a video about it. Someone responded, “Wow, you’re so brave!”


People have called me “brave” before; they said it after I quit my engineering job, after I went bungee jumping, and after I announced that I was going to solo-travel with no real plan.


Here’s the thing: I’m not brave.


My mind is scared sh*tless most of the time.


I just don’t really believe my mind anymore.


My mind narrates my life incessantly, but about five years ago, I learned that I didn’t really have to listen to it.


Hearing that I didn’t need to trust my mind didn’t seem right at first. But I was desperate… in a deep hole of binge eating/bulimia, depression, and anxiety… so I started testing the theory by doing little things that my mind thought were scary. Things like not counting calories. Not weighing myself. Asking a question in a work meeting. Being honest with my boyfriend.


My mind, on some level, told me I was going to die when I did those things. The fear was felt in my body. Often, the fear showed outwardly.


But I kept acting anyway, and the world kept turning, and things kept being… fine.


In fact, things felt… better. More whole, in a sense. So I kept going.


After a while, the “scary” things that I did, just got… bigger. I started teaching dance classes and posting dance videos online. I started going on hikes alone. I asked for things at work. I adopted a floof (cat) even though I was convinced I was an unfit mother. I admitted to people that I was a life coach (that one was worse than bungee jumping).


The fear was still there. I embarrassed myself AND my friends, multiple times, by publicly breaking down to the point of sobs while rock climbing, skiing, etc.


But I kept acting anyway, and the world kept turning, and things kept being… fine.


And bigger and bigger the things got.


And now, here we are.


After a while of doing things that scare you, listening to your mind tell you you’re going to die or ruin your reputation, and then seeing that not happen, you just start to sense the signal through the noise.


You also start to see that you’re doing it, even though “you” apparently don’t want to. You start to wonder what that’s about. Who, or what, is really running the show, then? Who’s really calling the shots?


And you just keep going.


There’s no “need” to do adrenaline-seeking, death-defying stunts. To be honest, normal life is scarier. I’d rather jump out of a plane than admit to a man that I have feelings for him, for example.


There’s also no rush. You don’t need to do something you don’t want to do.


It’s more about seeing that, if you want to do something, or if you’re already doing it, you can… well… do it.


Knowing that your mind is a silly little liar is like having a built-in safety net for life. It’s a safety net because you realize there’s nothing real to lose. Outside of the ego, there is no anxiety. There is no fear. There are no failures. There are no mistakes. There’s no past, and no future. There are simply the sensations and visuals that are appearing right now.


So no, I’m not brave, and that’s okay, because bravery isn’t really required if there’s a safety net.


You can read more about Becky here: https://bekaelle.com/



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