As we transition from 2019 to 2020, we wanted to honor the courage of this community and wish you all a courageous New Year. A focus on courage seems particularly relevant to both our current era and the work we do as trauma responders. To inspire reflections on this topic, we share four quotes and think about how they are linked to our work as CPP practitioners.
"I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, or merciful for a while, even loving for a while.
But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and
insistently kind and generous and fair."
“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”
"One isn’t born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things, in the same way that one wouldn’t set out to pick up 100 pound bag of rice. If that was one’s aim, the person would be advised to pick up a five pound bag, and then a ten pound, and then a 20 pound, and so forth, until one builds up enough muscle to actually pick up 100 pounds. And that’s the same way with courage. You develop courage by doing courageous things, small things, but things that cost you some exertion – mental and, I suppose, spiritual exertion."
“When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it,
we get to write the ending.”
These quotes apply both to us and to the families we serve. We support families in speaking the unspeakable and in co-creating stories that offer acknowledgement, connection, and hope. This often leads to a different future for their children than what they had. This takes courage. First and foremost, courage on the part of the families to trust us with their stories when too often trust was robbed by history. Courage for some to acknowledge harm and pain when perhaps they had not previously experienced safety. And this takes courage on our part as well. Courage to “trust in the process.” Courage to know that healing and connection often come by traveling through stories of pain and fear. Courage to care, and “courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”
This may seem like an odd moment to bring up fidelity, but fidelity isn't about outcome even though we hope it leads to good things. It is about showing up in a way that is faithful to you, to your beliefs, and to what we have learned helps families. In that way, it is about courage. The courage to be both real and benevolent in the face of trauma. The courage to support others as they create their story and write their future, recognizing both the beauty and the limits of our role.
And, as Dr. Angelou says, we aren’t born with that courage. We develop it by doing small courageous things. Here are a few:
As a community of therapists, supervisors, and trainers, we bear witness to courage, and we grow our own muscles in this area every day. It takes community to do this (it’s hard to work out alone), so as we begin this new year, please know that you are not alone.
We hope this new year brings positive changes for each of you, for the families you care for, and for our communities and the world.
Change takes courage. Thank you for yours.
Happy New Year!
(January 1, 2020)