This is what we train for.
The personal growth practices, prayer, faith, naming desires in order to practice courage? The self-help books and blogs and podcasts you take in? All of that meditation, awareness of vulnerability, talking about facing fear and practicing courage?
Whatever you’ve been doing all of this time, it’s prepared you for this—right now. Right. Now.
You might not have thought of the things you’ve been doing, in this way—-so consider it, now. For example, if you meditate, why do you meditate, really? You do it because of what it provides in the moment, but you also do it because you understand that the more you do it, the more the benefits add up.
We could compare the personal growth work that we do to lifting weights or training for a marathon. Lift weights once, and you’re not going to be able to lift something heavier, the next day. Lift weights for a month, and you’ll get stronger. Run one mile, and you still won’t be ready for a marathon the next day. Run one mile, week after week, and build in more mileage? You’ll run that marathon.
I point this out because I know that there are so many of you who are looking around and going, “I’m not equipped for this. I can’t handle this. Nothing has prepared me for this.”
Nope—you have been training for this. All of that personal growth work has been training us for times like these, preparing us for these moments of profound fear and uncertainty. If you’ve meditated even once, you know what the process is for coming back to your breath and reducing anxiety. If you have paused before going into a state of fear, to ask yourself how you want to handle the situation, you know the tool. If you have ever reframed a belief, from “I can’t” to “I’m willing to try,” then you know the tool. If you have ever heard your Critic tell you the reasons to isolate, and then decided to reach out to a friend anyway, then you know the tool.
Now, I can see someone saying, “But I did it once! That doesn’t mean I’m prepared for this!” I’d agree—if you only did those things once, or if you only did them inconsistently, then I get it, you’re not feeling prepared for this. You’re probably not prepared for this. My point? You know what the tools are. You are intelligent. You already know that slowing down your breathing is a tool, that pausing before you react is a tool, that reframing a belief is a tool, that reaching out to others is a tool. You know these things. Knowledge is good. It’s a starting point. You have the tools.
The question is always, do you use the tools? Because you DO have them—you can’t argue with anyone on this point. You have the tools, already. I just said them: slowing down to breathe, pausing before reacting, reframing your beliefs, and refusing to isolate—reach out to people. You have the tools. Do you use them? Do you use them consistently? Is your mind focused on checking in with them, daily?
This is the entire point of the Courageous Living Program—to give people ways to practice courage, daily, so that they have ways of using these tools in their lives on a regular basis. This is the entire point of The Courage Habit, to get people to see the ways that courageous behaviors can become habitual, to the point where you don’t have to think really hard about anything—-it’s a habit, it’s just how you do life. You use the tools consistently, and that’s how you build courage and resilience for times like these.
If you are considering this and realizing that up until now you haven’t been using the tools, then my question is: has the cost finally gotten so great that you are going to do it? Has the cost finally gotten so great that you’re no longer going to negotiate when it comes to your personal well-being?
Has the cost finally gotten so overwhelming and stressful that you’re willing to say, “NO MORE, I’m doing life differently, right now, and I’m not skipping out on the daily tools?” Because that might be what it takes.
Personally, I hit that spot years ago and I remember feeling a bit like, “How would some daily tools around meditation, or gratitude, or checking in with my integrity, really change my life?” They all seemed so small. But in life, sometimes the small things add up to be bigger than what we perceive as the big things. A courageous life is lived on the basis of the small, ordinary, daily acts of courage.
I don’t do the personal growth work that I do for the times when things are just peachy. I do it for these times, right here, when we feel crazed and angry and can’t trust our leaders and don’t know what we’ll do when we’ve had a financial bottoming out. You work the tools always, because this is what we train for.
So if you haven’t been using any tools and if you want to change anything, then I’ve got great news for you: this profound fear and uncertainty, is also our training ground. This right now, is your training ground for what comes next.
Think about this: We will emerge from the other side of this either weakened, or depleted, depending on whether or not you use the tools.
Again, you know what they are. You don’t need anyone to lecture you on meditation or some kind of way to slow down and breathe. It’s not breaking news that pausing before you react, and reframing things in a more positive direction, is helpful. It’s not going to surprise you to hear that isolation isn’t helpful, and that even if you live alone and have no nearby relatives, you need to be listening to podcasts that lift you up, getting onto conference calls when people run a virtual get-together, or calling the people you care about—these are all forms of not isolating.
You know the tools. And, you will emerge from the other side of this either weakened, or depleted, depending on whether you use the tools. So what will you be doing, in the months ahead?
Will you use this—this, right here now—as your training ground?
I just saw it—another post on social media, going, “You don’t have to be pressured to do anything during this stressful time!” I can see someone who is exhausted by their fear being furious that anyone would suggest, during times like these, that there might be something they could do.
If you are infuriated by someone suggesting that there could be a way to use what we’re going through right now, to become stronger and more resilient, please do take some time to rest. Take some time to feel the anger. Slow down, go a few layers down, and see where the sadness lies. Exhaustion is hard. Feeling depleted is hard. Rest is good. Especially if you weren’t already resting before COVID-19 hit, the world’s stress collectively being ratcheted up all at once, hits hard and feels overwhelming. I’m not denying that.
I’m gently suggesting that we all just notice that we already have the tools, and this right here is our training ground for how we use them. This right now is the moment to start. Not when this is over. Not when things feel easier. This, right here and right now, is your training ground.
You will train imperfectly. We all do.
You will make mistakes and need to regroup. We all do.
Yet I’m asking you to please rise up. See the tools that are available for you as being like the most nourishing possible food for your emotional system. See that you have them already, and that you get to use them—you are in choice around that.
Consider that if you get just one percent better at something every day, after thirty days, you’ll be thirty percent better. After sixty days, you’ll be sixty percent better. After ninety days, you’ll be almost to 100%. That’s huge, and here we are in the midst of trying times when 1%, daily, makes all the difference.
Slow down and breathe—in whatever way feels right for you. Pause before you react. Reframe, reframe, reframe. Refuse to isolate, by finding some way to feel a sense of connection to other humans, even if you can’t be in the same room.
You’ve got the tools. You can use them. It’s hard, but you can do hard things. We all can. This is what we train for.