We all admire people who do brave things in times of danger and act without even thinking about it.
The neighbor who bursts into a fiery home to rescue an elderly woman trapped in her kitchen.
The student who tackles the active shooter in the hallway.
The child who confronts her alcoholic father who just pushed her sister into the wall, screaming in his face that he will never touch her or anyone else like that again. And meaning it in every cell of her being.
When the pressure is on, the brave do what others can’t.
But bravery doesn’t always look dramatic.
It can be as simple –– and difficult –– as …
- Having a hard conversation
- Setting a boundary with a parent
- Having a sit down with your best friend who’s looking for love in all the wrong places
- Telling a friend you’re in love with him
The courageous know that telling the truth is always worth the risk.
When was the last time you felt brave? When was the last time you moved or spoke with boldness, without fear, even though those around you were trembling?
When was the last time you felt courageous? When was the last time you moved or spoke with determination in spite of fear, even when you were trembling?
Courage is available to anyone, anytime –– even if you’re a 6th grader.
When I was 12 years old, our church needed more lectors to do readings during mass from the pulpit. I wanted to do it soooo bad. I’m the type of person who wants to be doing stuff instead of sitting and watching. Otherwise, I get out-of-my-skin bored.
But only adults were lectors. How could I possibly be one?
The idea of asking permission was scary. But the thought of being condemned to the pew listening to others read, droning on in monotones, absolutely made my skin crawl.
So I gathered my courage, faced my fear of rejection, and asked Father Zee if I could be a lector.
He tilted his head as he looked at me, eyes sparkling, and pinched back a grin.
… and so began my training.
He hauled me into the empty church with its vast space and soaring ceilings, turned on the microphone, and walked all the way to the back. Then, as I stood there mustering my courage, I began to read from the “adults-only” pulpit, he coached me on ways I could improve.
“Rita, pause to the count of one after every comma. Now, pause for the count of two after every period.”
At home, I practiced endlessly, playing with the inflection of my voice and speaking from the place in my heart that cared so much.
And then came my big-fat-scary-awesome moment …
I approached the lectern for my first reading at the 10 a.m. mass. I shook like a bowl of pudding during an earthquake. And then, I started reading and OMG. I felt so ALIVE!
Even as a 12 year old, I knew I was made for this.
Afterwards, a couple of little old ladies and an old man came up to tell me that I was better than many of the adult lectors. Wowza! Talk about walking on clouds. I had mustered up the courage to speak in front of all those people even though I was terrified.
I asked for what I wanted.
I didn’t die.
Then, I actually “did the thing” and I still didn’t die. Instead, I soared.
I stepped into a new realm of creating and expressing myself. And it felt amazing.
Bravery and courage are things you can build muscles for.
Before Olympic figure skaters hit the ice in competition in front of millions, they visualize themselves on center ice in their starting pose.
The music begins and they glide across the ice, aligning themselves for their big move. As they see themselves in their mind’s eye, they feel the sensations in their body as they propel into the air, twist, and land their triple lutz with precision. Their heart beats in exhilaration, pumping with courage.
In other words, they tell themselves a story of what they’re capable of.
The power of visualization acts as an anchor of truth and love in the face of fear.
And let’s face it, even if they fall, they’re still winners, courageously doing the thing.
Fear is really your ego trying to keep you safe by avoiding the unknown.
By visualizing yourself in action a bajillion times before you actually lean in and do it, you’re creating pathways for your ego to follow.
Whenever I’m nervous –– which, yes, still happens –– I remind myself of the story of my 12-year-old self nailing it as a lector. I’m reminded I can do hard things.
There is no shame in being afraid. But you also don’t have to live there. You can cultivate your own courage for any circumstance.
When you take your power back …
when you realize that you create your own safety and have nothing to fear …
you can do or say anything you need to.
- Think of a story about how brave you are. If you can’t think of one of your own, envision someone else you know who channeled courage in the face of fear.
- Tell yourself that story. Visualize yourself fully empowered by that same courage.
- Empower yourself over and over and over, until you feel sparks of courage coming alive inside of you. Rinse and repeat because courage is a muscle to strengthen and build.
I’m holding you in my heart. We’re all stronger together.
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