#wearenotafraid – even if we are

London Underground logo overwritten with the phrase "We Are Not Afraid"


I support wholeheartedly the sentiment of #wearenotafraid.

And it also has me reflecting.

Because of course inevitably, humanly, naturally, reflexively – many of us will be experiencing fear. In our thoughts, our emotional reactions, our bodily sensations.

Some of us will also be experiencing great sadness. Or anger.

And it’s important to not mistake the #wearenotafraid message for the more pernicious, shaming and bullying “man up” attitude that is so detestable, out-dated and psychologically ill-informed.

At its most inspiring, #wearenotafraid, as I relate to it, means something like

“I might be afraid, and there’s nothing wrong with me for being afraid, and yet, I will find within me the courage to carry on with my life in spite of my fear, as an act of defiance and resistance.”

With a big nod to Susan Jeffers, we both allow ourselves to feel our fear, and to “do it” – live, love, gather, work, travel, laugh – anyway.

I personally often need to remind myself that one of the essential steps towards finding the courage to “do it anyway” is first feeling and owning all the feelings and physical sensations I have in response to something, and if they’re overwhelming, talking to someone else I trust about them. Without this step we’re dangerously close to the realms of dissociation, denial, and supression, which have no part in true courage.

In the immediate face of danger, of course, the amazing human psyche is capable of suppressing debilitating fear in order for us to save ourselves or others. I am constantly in awe of what people are capable of in the face of terror. And men and women who regularly face threat in the line of their duty know better than most of us that some form of after-the-fact, healthy, honest decompression, mixed, usually, with an impressive dose of black humour, is essential to getting up again the next day and doing it all over again.