Monday, August 5, 2013

Courage. Leave home for the unknown...

Do you have moments in your life that you REALLY want to do something, but there is this thing that is holding you back? 
Do you have some areas in your life that you avoid, that you "don't have time for"? 
Are there things that even thinking about them makes you anxious, afraid?

...Think about it...

If you've answered yes for at least one of questions above, there are good news for you - you are ALIVE! And you experience fear from time to time. 

"ME?! Experiencing fear?! That's bullshit!" You might say.
But the truth is that fear is part of live, everybody feels it, it's part of our biology and thanks to it we still exist as human race. The only thing is that we started to connect it to many other things than just survival.

Let's see what can we do about it.

What is courage?



For most of my life I believed that courage is where there is no fear. I thought that brave people, the ones that do things I'm afraid of, have no fear and I have to (somehow...) eliminate fear before I could even try doing it. So I've spent my time reading books, going to seminars trying to get rid of this fear. And... nothing happened with it. It was still there, like a best friend that is with you during bad and good times. 

As a side note - don't get me wrong, I'm so GRATEFUL for all books I've read and all seminars I've attended, because they were the road to ideas and better understanding of how it works. Without them I would not be able to write about things I'm writing about now. I've learned a lot about myself and met wonderful people and I highly encourage everybody to do at least one of these two. The only wrong thing about it was my mindset.

Winston Churchill said [x]:
Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.
Think about it. How would world be different if people like Gandhi, Rosa Parks and many others had same ideas, but without courage? Without courage to go out and act.

How to be brave?

Does it mean that knowing about it automatically makes you courageous?

Nope. 

Because it takes practice. It takes practice to condition your brain to face fears and dance with them. It takes practice to be brave. It's like a muscle that needs to be exercised to grow and stay big. What happens to the muscle that is not used? It shrinks. So something to think about - ask yourself a question - what can I do everyday/week/month to grow my courage muscle?

On the other hand - knowing that you should be dancing with your fears instead of trying to conquer them is HUGE. For me it changed completely my approach to fears. Before I was trying to get rid of them BEFORE making an action. After I started doing things despite of being afraid. 
Some examples from my life:
  • I was scared of water - I've signed up for swimming lessons.
  • I was anxious when speaking to people I don't know (especially in English) - I've joined couple of meetups.
  • I'm afraid of what people will think of me and my ideas - I start writing blog!
Jacek Walkiewicz, polish psychologist (if you know polish I highly recommend you watching this: "Pełna moc możliwości"), says in one of his TEDx presentation that the difference between him now and him 20 years ago is "back then I was scared and I didn't do it, now I am scared and I do it".

Comfort zone

Fear is something that was used to keep us alive, to be safe, to pump blood to muscles and to be able to fight or run away more efficiently. But nowadays it's far from keeping us safe. We have the illusion of safeness though, so it's tempting to stay inside this safe place of comfort zone. 

Magic happens when you face your fears, dance with it, treat it as a challenge not something you have to run away from.


DO IT!

I recommend you do this small exercise. Think of something you are afraid of doing, something take makes you anxious or something that is not comfortable for you and DO IT! Choose safe environment, to make sure you and others will be ok and DO IT!

You say that I should dance with my fears and I'm really afraid of jumping out of the building, should I do it? NO! Use your common sense, you KNOW which of you fears seams "unreasonable" (yeah, there is no such thing as unreasonable fear - there is always a reason!). It may be speaking in front of people, talking to cute girls on the street, etc. You know what's yours!

Sometimes you say that you don't have time, don't want to do this, but underneath the surface there is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being enough, fear of rejection.

First dance with your fear would be - be honest with yourself. Even better - talk to someone you trust about it. Admit that you are afraid of something. Many times this single step will help a lot. You start dancing with your fear, you acknowledge that there is something and then you can start your dance.

Summary

These guidelines I use for dancing with fear and building courage muscle.
  1. Be honest with yourself about what you feel, what you are afraid of.
  2. Ask yourself: why do I want to do the thing I'm afraid of? What is your reason? Do you have reason that is strong enough that you really WANT to do this?
  3. Choose appropriate step size. Too small challenge won't be attractive for you, too big will be too scary. To learn how to swim you need something bigger than puddle and something smaller than ocean. Take a look at kaizen method.
  4. Increase size of steps while you are getting more comfortable. To grow muscles you need to increase weight.
  5. When you are in the situation when you experience fear, observe it, treat it as energy that is flowing. This reminds me that I've heard this in one of the interviews with well known musician:
    [A] "You are not afraid of going and performing in front of thousands of people?"
    [B] "I don't call it fear. I feel my heart beating faster, my hands slightly shaking and I know that I'm doing something that matters, I feel excitement, I know I'm alive, I know I'm ready!"
  6. Dance with your fear in safe environment. Ask someone that already has do it for advices, read a book, attend a workshop and just DO IT!
And start asking yourself question: What small thing can I do today to grow my courage muscle? And comment below to share some awesome strategies you come up with.

Good read about how to make change in sustainable way - You need internal power to transform your life.

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This way I would like to welcome you on this blog. I thought this will be great way to start it. I'm really afraid of putting this outside, I don't know what people will think, whether my English is good enough and much more. But I do it anyway. There is no better way to grow than to confront your own fears.

Be brave!

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Resources


4 comments:

  1. Well written. That's great point; feel the fear and do it anyway. Great observation that fear you are aware of is energy. Was the well known musician Krystian Zimerman? You should put such puzzles on every post :p And I love the title.

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    1. Thanks! I tried to find the source for the interview, but couldn't find it and I don't remember who exactly it was. I know that this was one of rock vocalist :).

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  2. Dzięki za artykuł i namiary na wykłady Jacka. Dobra robota.

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