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There was a session when my coach/counselor/mentor Matthew looked at me really directly, straight in the eye, and said:

“You realize that if you embrace this kind of work, you’re stepping into a whole different way of being in the world.”

The power of that statement was full body sizzling resonance.

At at the same time, Fear said, “No. Absolutely not.”

Yes–something in me deeply wanted change.

Yes–something else in me sincerely wanted to stick with what I’d grown comfortable and accustomed to doing, even as I knew that it wasn’t serving me.

 

What No One Tells You

Here’s the thing–if you truly take it to the core, 99% of personal growth work absolutely sucks.

It’s not uncommon for me to be on the phone with a client who clearly articulates what she wants–and then as soon as we start to really dismantle the old belief structure, she’s angry. Pissed. She’s either turning her fear inward, or she’s projecting it outward (sometimes, onto me).

When clients are in that space, I get it. We’re just human, and at the end of the day, we prefer our routines over something new. Do enough deep personal growth work–go full-on with courage–and you’ll eventually get cornered.

There won’t be anywhere to hide out when you’re into the truth-truth-truth.

 

The Question We Fear

There’s a question that we fear asking, buried in all of this:

“Who would you ‘have to’ be in order to step into living the kind of courageous life that you actually want to live?”

It’s a potentially terrifying question if you have a long-standing way of being, and a lot of belief systems that you’re incapable, and suddenly you’re contemplating this idea that you actually can–and have no idea who that person is who “can,” or what her life is like.

Also, change is hard and you might have good reasons for doing all that you’ve spent years doing. For example:

Are you a Yeller? Well, then–you probably have some great reasons for yelling. You want to stop yelling, but–what would you put in its place? How else would you handle anger when it courses through your veins?

Are you an Avoider? You also have great reasons for Avoiding, reasons that have to do with how you survived your childhood, or how you make it through your job or your marriage, how you handle stress or fear. You can know that you want to change it–but until you know what you’ll replace it with, until you know who you would “have to” be and are comfortable with that, it’s hard to give up Avoiding and become pro-active.

When Matthew told me that I’d walk the world differently, here’s who I was afraid I would “have to” be if I stepped up my game:

a.) perfect,
b.) chipper,
c.) cheerful,
d.) having all the answers,
e.) someone who would be made fun of because she was “too happy”,
f.) someone who would be isolated from others because they’d be intimidated by her happiness.

I believed that I would “have to” become a walking posterboard for empowerment and holding space and always being 100% being nice. I was intimidated by that vision.

The way it actually turned out was that courageous living wasn’t going to be perfectionism. It was going to be integration and acceptance of all the parts that weren’t perfect.

So Ask Yourself

One of the reasons that we don’t make the shifts that we know we need to make is because our behavior is habituated and we don’t know what habits we’d replace the old stuff with.

Your most courageous self knows who you’d be if you stepped up your game. That’s part of what’s so intimidating. Swap “have to” for “get to” and there’s an even more exciting question:

Who would you get to be if you lived a full-on courageous life?

Yes, that’s the question that sparks movements, innovates industries, and brings leaders into the limelight–but more importantly, that’s a question that can be life-changing for the likes of you and me, the ordinary women who are living our lives, wanting good things for the people we love, and hoping that we can impact our small corners of the world.

Who would you get to be if you lived a full-on courageous life? That’s what you get to decide.