There’s a lot to be said for finding courage as we face challenges throughout our lives.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.”
When you think of the word courage, do you think of a specific person in your life who always seems to be brave or bold? Or maybe you think of a super hero like I often do. We talk about courage as though it’s something that must be “found” or that we need to will into existence in our lives. I don’t necessarily think that’s the most helpful way to look at it.
I think when we really take a step back and look at our lives, we can practice courage in small ways, every single day. Courage can look different for all of us and that’s the beauty of it. You never know how much effort it may have taken someone to sit with a new group of people in class, to sign up for rush week or to simply get out of bed and make coffee that day.
I think courage takes guts and effort. Courage emphasizes our ability to be intentional and make the choice to take a chance. This is no easy feat. And just like everything else, being courageous, having courage, takes practice.
For most of us, when we face something that feels scary or unknown, we like to bolt in the other direction or curl up into a ball (cough, cough — fight/flight/freeze responses).
As we get older, we carve our way in life and learn what feels comfortable, and what doesn’t. Sometimes, we can let ourselves get a bit too comfortable and complacent without taking chances on ANYTHING. If we step into a practice of courage, we can begin to see life from a whole new perspective, grow in ways we never expected and achieve goals that once felt so far away.
Here’s how you can begin to practice courage in your own life today:
- Step outside the box – get creative, try something new
- Yep, you’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again.. step out of your comfort zone. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do or try but written off because you aren’t _____ enough? Well, go try it.
- Remind yourself it’s okay to not always be right
- Part of being courageous means being willing to fail. You won’t always get it right, and it won’t always go the way you had hoped. That is okay! Remind yourself of this every time you make a choice to put yourself out there.
- Take a deep breath
- Our brains can build the simplest things up and catastrophize them. It’s a protective factor, which is great. When it comes to courage, if you feel some angst coming through, try taking some slow, deep breaths. More likely than not, whatever chance you are taking is not a life or death situation. Remind yourself that you will come out OKAY on the other side of it whether it goes well or not. If you’re experiencing lots of stress or anxiety around the situation, read this!
- Go for the big stuff
- It’s okay to take really big chances and leaps of courage at times. I don’t know many people that have ever felt totally safe and assured as they achieved all of their wildest dreams. From taking on a new relationship to pursuing a major you had never thought of, take the leap of courage to live your best life. If you don’t take the chance now, when?
- Follow through
- So bouts of courage may come and you may realize you didn’t actually have a calculated plan beforehand, or maybe you did. Either way, when you’re practicing courage, follow through. If you sign up for a new workout class, show up. If you plan a coffee date with a new friend, show up. If you say you’ll text them, send the text. Following through on your words is a vital piece and a courageous
- Try again
- I hate to break it to you, but courage does not come without risk. There are times where you will practice courage and it really won’t go so well. I want to urge you to TRY, TRY AGAIN! We only get better, become stronger and develop confidence when we try, fail, and pick ourselves back up again.