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Courage is a word most of us have heard often, but have the hardest time trying to place in our own lives. We often wonder if we have been courageous, or comparing our moments of courage to others. Maybe you want to be more courageous but don’t know where to start. Enjoy this week’s How To: Be More Courageous.
Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one”. Since this definition is pretty situational and personal depending on what frightens you, we can only speculate on a broad scale, so if you have something specific in mind that does frighten you and this article doesn’t reflect that, just comment below and we’ll be more than happy to reach out and talk more about it!
It’s important to realize that courage doesn’t mean doing something in fear but not doing so cautiously or considerately. It doesn’t mean walking through fire or bungee jumping or other extreme things that we would outwardly consider “courageous”. Public speaking. Applying for a new job. Making a new friend. Posting a photo you’re particularly proud of taking. If it is something that you fear, even a little bit, and you do it cautiously, this is an act of courage.
The first step is to understand that being vulnerable is okay. Being vulnerable towards something that others aren’t vulnerable to is even more okay. Be honest with yourself about what your fears are, and in this process you’ll most likely start being able to pinpoint certain fears that have held you back in your life.
The next “step” in this process* is to think with a positive twist. We’ve mentioned before that toxic positivity has no place in our blog, business, or lives, so we won’t start now. However, the lack of toxic positivity doesn’t mean ONLY negativity. For the rest of this article, we are going to assume that the fear is asking for a raise at work, or fear of rejection in general. When going into this want to be more courageous, after you’ve admitted your fear to yourself, think of the positives and negatives of the entire situation. What’s the worst thing that could happen in this situation? What’s the best thing that could happen? What’s the thing that could happen that’s neither good or bad? Think positively, simply think about positive outcomes and not only the negative.
At no point in this process should you be fearless. Afterall, courage can’t exist without fear. It’s in the definition. You are not working towards being fearless; you’re working towards doing something that you DO fear. Because of this, you might feel anxious or stressed while thinking about the actions you’re going to take. Make sure to do things that help relieve your stress, whether it’s watching a funny video, taking a hot shower, stepping away from your courageous action plan for a day or two, or whatever else helps you relax.
Going forward, let’s say you do the thing that you’ve feared and you get rejected or you don’t get your designated outcome. You’ve worked so hard and you went against every signal in your body to do the thing and have nothing to show for it. What now? Keep. Trying. Go back and assess everything that you did. This is the part that most people get caught up on. You might not want to feel that rejection or failure again so naturally you’ll do anything you can to NOT feel that way again. Maybe you don’t want to seem “annoying” if the situation is asking for a raise (although feeling “annoying” or even being annoying should never make you settle in any aspect of your life). Think about everything you did, write it down, then write down the benefit that you’ll get if you try again. Then, stop thinking about it and just do it. Thinking is the number one way to fail at anything because after so long your inner monologue will start arguing against all the reasons to keep trying.
Let’s recap. Courage is not a process that ends in fearlessness. It’s a process of doing something DESPITE the fear surrounding it. Admit your fears to yourself, think about the positives and the negatives as well as the benefits to you with your particular actions. Remember to take care of yourself and your mental health during this process. Expect failure and make a plan for what happens if you fail.
Once you do the courageous thing, don’t stop and settle. Continue to learn, grow, and do more courageous acts. Remember, it doesn’t have to be jumping out of a plane to be courageous.
What’s one way you’re going to be courageous this week? Let us know in the comments!