Courage seems to be one of those words or concepts that means something quite different for each of us. Or rather, what we interpret as being courageous seems to vary enormously.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced times when we’ve knowingly faced our fears or taken obvious risks. Perhaps we’ve also taken the courage to change old habits, make difficult decisions, take a stand for what we believe in or even ask for help.
On the other hand, one friend of mine is very modest and never attributes anything he’s done to being courageous even though others say he’s shown real bravery. And people have said I must have been brave to leave a well paid job, set up my own business, leap out of a plane from 13000 feet and travel alone in Asia. Yet apart from leaping out of the plane :-o, none of the others actually felt they took real courage at the time. They were simply things that I felt compelled to do, without question, and were the result of taking just one step after another.
So courage can be about taking small, steady steps or overcoming our inner demons as well as grand acts of bravery. And either way, on some level we still know that we’ve changed, or grown and that life has expanded.
If courage can so easily go unnoticed though, it might be helpful to pay more attention when we are lacking courage, allowing our fears to dominate and holding back in life. Those times when we stay silent instead of speaking up, stand back instead of taking a stand, choose the easy ‘wrong’ instead of the hard ‘right’, ignore what we feel called to do and play safe or let new opportunities pass us by.
By paying closer attention at times like these we can begin to recognise the signs in our bodies. We might physically shrink, our muscles might contract and we allow the tightness and tension to hold us back. Learning to read these signs means we have a chance to consciously choose something different, act with courage and live more fully instead. So here are are few tips to help you rediscover your courage next time you need to ;-)
7 tips for finding your courage
1 Be Present – bring your attention back to the present, observe the sensations in your body, notice any tension
2 Breathe – breathe deeply and relax
3 Focus – visualise a positive outcome, what would you like to be, do or have?
4 Fear – acknowledge your fears. Are they really justified? What can you do to mitigate the risk?
5 What If? – change the question from ‘what if’ to ‘if x happens then I will do y’
6 Surrender – stop resisting and allow yourself to flow with the natural rhythm of life
7 Calling – what do you feel called to do? what are you passionate about? what would compel you to take action?
And remember, ‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage’ Anais Nin