Courage feels big, doesn’t it? When we think of courage we often pull up images of unbelievable strength, conquering impossible obstacles or climbing to the peak of the mountain with our flag in hand. What about the everyday? Many of the experiences you and I walk through require us to be courageous and to show up in ways that might feel really vulnerable or even impossible. What do we do?
It is suggested that, on average, adults make about 35,000 decisions each day. Wow, no wonder we can feel so exhausted! Our everyday lives can leave us feeling drained and uncertain at times, facing big and small obstacles, making choices at work and at home, navigating relationships and walking through life transitions.
Let’s talk about five big ways that showing up courageously can help us live a life we love.
1. Building Connections: Yes, we are plugged in and have social media to thank for our thousands of “friends” and followers, but is that connection? Connection is meaningful exchange, the building of trust, active engagement, seeing and hearing another person while allowing them to also see and hear you.
Courage helps us to reach out to someone new, sharing a smile or a hand and simply being present for another person. Not only might the other person benefit when we reach out to help, but we also walk away with a positive feeling of connection and meaning. We feel good about ourselves, feel connected to our communities and enjoy a greater sense of belonging.
2. Nurture Existing Relationships: If there was one area of our lives that can bring us an extraordinary amount of turmoil it is our personal relationships. The reason they can bring us so much stress and uncertainty is because our relationships are important to us and our well-being. When our important relationships feel messy our entire world can feel of balance or uncertain.
Courage can help us initiate an important conversation with a love one, not retreat when a partner or family member engages us in an important conversation, find space to understand and compromise. Doing these things helps us grow in connection with those most important to us. We feel safe, secure and bonded in healthy ways to those we care about.
3. Discover Your Strengths: Even when you don’t feel like you have any strengths, you do. They often go hiding in the messes of our everyday lives and the chatter of self-talk that is always quick to remind us when we’re not getting it right or falling behind.
Courage helps you to step out in ways that not only help uncover personal strengths, but to embrace and celebrate those strengths. Sometimes we are hesitant to celebrate strengths for fear that it may not last long or that we’re setting ourselves up for failure or embarrassment. What we often end up doing is hiding in our own lives. Celebrating ourselves is about enjoying who we are created to be, strengths and vulnerabilities alike.
4. Develop Confidence: A lot of people talk about confidence in a way that focuses on how we present ourselves to others and the world. For example, faking our way through situations with an egg shell thin layer of positive self talk that feels empty and inauthentic, making sure people know you don’t care about them or their opinion, stepping over people to get what you want, etc. This is not confidence.
Courage helps us to show up in the world in a way that allows us to try new things, get creative, explore and not be afraid to take a wrong step. Walking through something is the path to authentic confidence, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable at times and believing you will be okay no matter what.
5. Create Memories: Do you ever think of your “ideal” life? The one where you feel connected to people, show up in the world without fear of what others think, embrace new experiences and share those experiences with people who matter most to you? The details may look different for people but most have common elements of connection, confidence, adventure and meaning.
Courage allows us to create and live those experiences, not simply keep them as wishful images in our mind of what could be. Courage invites us to take a step we’ve never taken before, no matter how small, and to trust that we will be okay even if there is an obstacle or two we encounter along the way. Courage allows us to show up, be present and live!