― José N. Harris
The word courage comes from the Latin cor and the Old French coer which denotes the heart as the seat of feelings. I love Brené Brown’s definition in this TED Talk: Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. The key is to connect to your heart and innermost feelings and then be willing to be vulnerable and share who you are.
When we finally decide that we’re not going to live a life void of meaning anymore. When we decide that we want to love our lives and make a contribution to the world. We start to move and often we come up against resistance.
Most humans are not fans of change. We’re creatures of habit.
Habits are not a bad thing unless the behavior is causing us pain or getting in the way of our goals. Habits help us to routinely brush our teeth, get to work on time, exercise regularly, etc. Many of us humans like the familiar. When we try to change a behavior we balk. It feels like so much work.
Even if we’re trying to change our lives in a way that matches our dream life, that sluggish feeling can show up.
So what can you do to develop this thing called courage?
First get in touch with your heart and with who you really are. Ask: What brings me joy? What are the activities in which I lose myself? Begin to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart and be willing to share it with others. Be your authentic self.
Next, create a vision of your new life and make sure that it encompasses who you are and not what you think it should look like based on what others have or say. This vision will be your pull, the thing that draws you forward.
Now, because many of us are creatures of habit you may need to go deep inside your pain points. These are your reasons for wanting to change, the things that push you into your dream life. I learned this from Tony Robbins.
Take some time to really feel the pain. For instance, if you’re trying to move towards the dream of being a coach or painter you could go deep into how bad you feel ignoring that side of you. Maybe you think about how small your life is, how bored you are at your current job and how much you hate wasting your life. Let the pain push you away from the life you don’t want towards the one you do want.
Here are some more tools you can use to continue to develop your courage and stay persistent on your path.
Make small changes
Sometimes we’re ready to take the leap. We feel excited and make a big change like quit our job or put out big bucks on a coach. These can be great catalysts, but often we lose our momentum when it comes to doing the actual work.
To keep going or to simply begin you can make small changes, easy commitments that will keep you moving forward. Make it simple so you’ll do it. These small changes prime you for larger ones. A big leap will then have a foundation under it in both a physical way and feeling way.
For example, you decide to not just quit your job, which can feel euphoric at first but fearful later. You create a plan and make small changes like saving a little money for when you leave and building your confidence by doing some research and trying out the new work you plan on doing. Momentum builds and when you leave your job you know you have a good chance of making it work, which keeps you motivated.
Being broke can motivate you, as well, but often it just puts you in fear mode and unable to think straight. It’s still possible to make it, but it may mean more hustle than you’d like.
Put the As If Principle to work for you
In my last blog I wrote about the book “The As If Principle” by Richard Wiseman. In it he talks about how our bodies and behaviors can create feelings in us and how that can be more effective than just changing our thinking. I think using both ways is best, but here are some ways you can use your body to help you persist through change.
Tense your muscles. This makes you feel like you’re working hard. Studies showed that people who did this persisted longer at solving a puzzle or other difficult tasks.
Cross your arms. This pose also helped people to persist longer at a task. It is acting as if you’re persistent.
Sit up straight. This also helps you to keep you going. Studies showed that people who sat up straight for three minutes and then were told to solve a puzzle spent twice as much time trying to solve it as people who were told to slouch.
Do something different. This technique convinces us that we’re not creatures of habit. The thing you do differently doesn’t even have to be related to your new life. It just has to be a change to something that you do habitually.
For instance, take a different route to work or change up your morning routine. What studies showed is people who did something different changed how they viewed themselves. They no longer saw themselves as someone who blindly follows a routine but as someone who was able to take control of their lives.
Use your mind
Many of you have heard the saying: Change your thinking, change your life. It does work.
Use affirmations. An affirmation is a statement that affirms something you want to see in your life. For instance you can say: I am a successful coach. Make the statement positive and in the present tense.
Now maybe you don’t believe that yet and so you find your mind going into a negative affirmation: I’m no good at coaching or I don’t know enough. First ask yourself if this is true. It’s good to be realistic. The truth may be that you don’t know if you’re good because you haven’t tried. Maybe you need to get some training or practice. Do it and continue to affirm that you are successful at it.
Envision your new life. By using your mind to envision your new life you create an opening for it to manifest. Make sure to use all of your senses and really feel how good it will be.
One of the reasons this works is because it has been shown that our brains don’t make a distinction between practicing something in real life or in our minds. We can spend a few minutes every day “practicing” our new life and it will seem to our brains that we’re living it. This will help you embody the change faster.
I hope you found this helpful and will continue to gain momentum in moving towards your dreams.
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Be sure to share your own tips in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.