A client and I were recently discussing what courage really is. Finding herself at a crossroads in life, she found that she was scared to death to make a decision about what to do next. She desperately wished she could muster up the courage to move forward. She didn’t feel fulfilled in her current job and wanted to move into a more creative role for which her soul was desperate. Even considering what to do next felt overwhelming, scary, and vulnerable.
As we broke down her next step, it dawned on us that we needed to redefine what courage meant in her eyes, as she was thinking it had to be this big, grandiose gesture and she wasn’t sure she was up for the task quite yet. Who would be? Trying to tackle such life changing events feels daunting and we are often easily swayed by our fear and start believing we can’t make the right decision for ourselves.
So we started small. I pointed out how courageous she was by just naming what she was feeling. To speak her truth in that moment out loud, in front of someone else, is a big deal. As scary as it was, she had taken the biggest step of them all, to be honest with her feelings.
How often in your own life do you stop to acknowledge how very far you have come and the type of courage you had to pull from deep within your soul just to take your next right step? In our society we are constantly pushing ourselves forward, all the while forgetting the small, steady steps that, on any given day, get us to the point where we can even think about what to do next in situations like the one I mentioned above. What if we took a moment just to slow down, take a deep breath, and steady ourselves? What if we took that beat in time to reconnect with how very far we have come instead of getting lost in the decision making process and how far we still believe we have to go?
We all know that our best decisions come from a place of peace and not when we are stressed out and anxious. Maya Angelou has been quoted as saying, ”Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
My client came up with a list of everyday tasks that we all face every day that require courage; things like sharing and expressing our feelings with loved ones, checking our bank account, going to the dentist (especially when we have not been in awhile), online dating, or showing up to a family holiday dinner. It was in this list making that she felt like the weight she had been carrying around regarding her career had lifted. The decision still had not yet been made however the anxiety surrounding that decision had (more about our Anxiety Counseling). She believed, for the first time in a while, that everything was going to be okay. It is from this place that she could now make a well-informed decision based on her best and highest good instead of from a place of lack and overwhelm. That’s the essence of what courage is.
So often we think courage looks like a big overture. Going skydiving, asking your boss for a raise, you get the idea. But in reality, it’s the everyday, small moments requiring us to be vulnerable that propel us to be courageous. These moments are the ones that change us so that we can continue to show up.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
How are you being courageous in your life?