In my private Facebook Group, The Inside Out Society, we’ve been talking this month about courage and what it means to be brave (btw, you should come hang out with us in there).
Last week, I shared my perspective on being brave. As we’ve been discussing this concept in the group, I realize many of us want to be courageous. We want to do the hard thing, have the hard conversations, take the risks but it often feels too damn hard. I understand because I feel the same way at times.
Over the years, as I have learned to flex my courage muscle, I have discovered there are some simple, though not always easy, steps you can take towards cultivating courage in your life.
Be willing & make the choice
This seems obvious but sometimes the most obvious step is the most easily overlooked. You have to be willing to do the hard thing. It is a conscious decision that you have to make to step into that difficult/painful/fearful space.
I see too many people using spiritual bypassing techniques to avoid these spaces. Spiritual bypassing looks like, “I’ll pray that it changes”, or “I’ll send love and light to the situation”. This is not helpful and doesn’t actually serve you in the long run.
There may be times when the courageous thing to do is to not engage. But the choice to not engage should come AFTER thoughtfully considering all options, not as a way to avoid dealing with pain or fear.
Being intentional to choose is the first step.
Look fear in the face
I believe fear is the main reason we avoid taking courageous action. Fear is a powerful hindrance to cultivating courage.
Running from fear is the most sure fire way of ensuring that it stays with you. But if you will turn and look your fear in the eye, you WILL rob it of its power.
This involves challenging the story fear is telling you. If you listen carefully you will hear fear telling you that you shouldn’t do something because _____________ (fill in the blank). Whatever is filling that blank line is fear’s story.
Pay attention to that story and see if what you are hearing is true or if it is mostly made up. More times than not you will discover there is very little truth to what you are hearing.
Once you realize fear’s story isn’t true it’s time to take action. You may be waiting to feel more courageous before taking action but you’ve got it backward.
Courage comes AFTER you take action not before. You have to take the leap because it is in leaping that you discover just how courageous you are.
It’s okay to do it while being completely terrified. The presence of fear as you take action is not a sign you are not being courageous. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite is true.
Being afraid and doing it anyway is, in my humble opinion, exactly what courage looks like.
Baby steps count
Most of the time we think courage looks like giant leaps of faith. But the truth is courage is often found in the baby steps that move you forward.
The grandiose act might seem like too much to take on but if you can break it down into smaller action items, you may find it easier to take that first step.
Baby steps count. Your action doesn’t have to be big for it to count. Start with taking those small, baby steps and watch how your courage grows.
There is no place for judgment while you are cultivating courage. Stay gentle with yourself in this process. Your path is yours to follow not anyone else’s and looking over at the person next to you will only serve to slow you down (or worse, trip you up).
Offer yourself lots of grace and space here. There will be days when your fear will win and you won’t do the hard thing. That’s okay. Tomorrow, you get to begin again and that is the beauty of courage. Because as Mary Ann Radmacher reminds us, “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Here’s to you cultivating courage and rising into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,
P.S: If your fear feels too overwhelming but you’re ready to be more courageous, let’s talk. Schedule a complimentary call with me where we can explore how you can uniquely cultivate more courage in the midst of the difficulties and fear you are facing. Click here to schedule your call today.