In the moment of that first breath where a bolt runs through you, “Ohhhhhh holdupholdupholdup I don’t know that doesn’t seem like a good idea wait a second,” there’s this simultaneous opportunity to develop more courage.
Most of the time, we pass over this little opportunity because fear patterns are running on auto-pilot. We run fear on a cue-routine-reward loop. Cue: fear. Routine: All the things we do to alleviate it (people-please, perfectionism, lashing out, etc.). Reward: Temporary alleviation of the fear.
Fear cues start as a direct, felt experience. It’s most obvious when it’s an elevator-dropping sensation in your stomach. It’s less obvious, but also there, when you know you have your next big idea but you “just can’t concentrate.”
And always, riding on the wild back of fear, risking being bucked off, there’s Courage.
Courage says: Maybe just give it a little try. See what happens. Push a little harder.
The fallacy is that if you miss the opportunity the first time, fear wins. But Courage is always there. She’s the mistress of power and she can always be counted upon when backed into a corner (in fact, those are the moments when she gets downright feral).
If you want to develop more courage or create courage as a habit, you’ve got to do four specific things: access the body, listen without attachment, reframe limiting stories, and take action.
Develop More Courage : The Courage Habit
Access the body. It’s all coming up, again—your boss is being sarcastic; your partner is resistant to having a discussion with you that could forever alter your sense of intimacy with each other; your hand is raised to share that idea—and your body starts ringing the alarm bells.
Notice that your body rings those alarm bells, every time. Notice that you are where you are—in the chair, or on the phone, or in Missoula, MT.
Breathe with this sentence: “Ah, yes. Fear is coming up, again.”
Listen Without attachment. What is Fear telling you? “You can’t do it” or “So-and-so already did it better”? Listen. Most of us turn away, trying not to hear what’s there. When you decide to listen, but listen without attachment, listen without getting hooked, you will learn. When you learn and understand, you’re in a position to change fear’s game. Maybe you’ll realize that it isn’t speaking the truth. Maybe you’ll realize that it always says the exact same three things. Listen without attachment to get the wisdom that you need.
Reframe Limiting Stories. Connect with your voice and everything that has transpired for this moment to happen where you can speak up. Connect to the wild, liberated feeling of unleashing your courage. Connect to what your heart really wants.
This is about getting intentional. This is not a time to play it from the cheap seats of compromise. This is where your body might be shaking but you still own it: “I want this. I desire this.”
Take action. You claim your space. You claim your voice. You say, “This isn’t right.” You push away from the table and leave the room. You set your boundaries.
The moment will reveal what needs to be claimed, the action to be taken. Sometimes, in the face of someone else’s chaos, the action we’ll choose is silence. Sometimes, what we claim is saying firmly, “I’m not taking any more shit.” Claiming your power isn’t about oppression or enacting “power over” (which isn’t really power, anyway).
There is always another moment
We think that if we don’t work on our fear once, we’ll be defeated by it, forever.
There is always another moment. There is always another space in time where life will ask you to breathe and access the body; where your highest self will be able to powerfully listen without attachment; where everything that is healthy in you will decide to reframe limitations, and where everything that is powerful in you will decide to take action