Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. We need courage, not because it shows our strength but because it shows our ability to act, in spite of our weaknesses.
If we don’t stand up for what is important to us, follow our hearts, and persevere in our most vulnerable and challenging moments, we are not living as deeply or genuinely as we could.
You may think of courage as saving someone from a burning building, but it often requires us to save something else when we are willing to look inside and do the right thing. The courage to change can show up in a lot of different ways from making a difficult decision about your mother’s healthcare, to ending a painful relationship, to leaving your lucrative but unfulfilling day job. I have done them all.
Mindfulness practices help you cultivate courage because they support you to focus on the present moment and the thoughts and feelings you are having around fear, instead of the fear itself. We begin to see the ever-changing state of our thoughts and feelings and realize that whatever we’re experiencing in the moment—good, bad, or ugly, will change. Try one of these mindfulness practices to give you the courage to change:
- Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity,
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
- Letting go meditation
Identify what fear, anxiety, or discomfort you are facing. Get quiet and with each inhalation, say “let” to yourself and with each exhalation, say “go”.
- Remember your past courage
Think back to a situation when you were afraid, but faced your fear anyway. What did you observe, think and feel? What thoughts or actions helped you face your fear? How did you feel after you faced your fear? Now think of the fear you are facing now and see if you can apply the same skills.
- Take a step
Avoiding your fear only makes it worse. Susan Jeffers said, feel the fear and do it anyway. Desensitize your brain to your fear by identifying one small step you could take today that scares you. Make the phone call. Ask for help. Admit a mistake. Balance your checkbook.
- Ask, what would I do if I were brave?
The wonderful song by Jana Stanfield, If I Were Brave, reminds us we can all have the courage to change. Watch this inspiring video about women who did.