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To Live a Life of Courage, Do These 6 Things

To Live a Life of Courage, Do These 6 Things

Why play small when you can play big?

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall. — Ray Bradbury

There are a million paths you can take in life.

It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Because it’s not the path you choose that makes the difference — it’s the way you travel it.

Living a life of courage is not about signing up for extreme sports, scaling the world’s toughest mountains or slashing through dense and scary jungles.

It’s about taking what you’ve got and making the most of it. It’s about getting to the end of your life with a smile on your face, knowing you got the best value from your ticket.

People often present at therapy saying they want to deal with their anxiety. Fair call. But, often, a better approach is to help them tap the courage to do whatever they’re afraid of doing, to make bolder choices.

True, life doesn’t make it easy…

There are many reasons why we don’t end up achieving our dreams: Life’s twists and turns, external forces, circumstances, the people (and distractions) we meet along the way.

That’s okay; many of those are beyond our control. And the dreams we once had may not be suited to the person we become.

Whatever path you take, the job is to shore up your internal resources — your approach, attitude and courage — and have them help you play the biggest game you have in you.

 If you want to live with courage, here are the steps to take. 

To Live a Life of Courage, Do These 6 Things

The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage. — Thucydides
1. Play in the big arena.
We all have fears and worries. You can choose to act in spite of them — or you can become a prisoner to them, shutting down your life in order to keep them at bay. The trouble is, shying away from fear doesn’t make it go away. It turns it into a lion.

When you deliberately choose to play in the big arena, you set yourself up for a more expansive life. It means every time you face a challenge or test, you already know you’re going to play big. It’s just a matter of deciding how.

2. Don’t deny your fears — eyeball them.
Get specific with your fears — know exactly what they are.

Leaving a miserable relationship (or finding your voice within it), asking the boss for a raise, asking someone on a date, making a wedding speech, leaving a safe 9–5 gig, starting a new business or project.

When you cower away from your fears, or live in denial of them, they’ll become bigger in your mind. So identify them. Say them out loud. Write them down. In acknowledging your fears, and squaring up to them, you’ll take the sting out of them. And you’ll know precisely what you have to work on.

3. Walk forward on unsteady feet.
Courage is not about striding through life, brimming with confidence, knowing exactly where you’re going. It’s not about banishing fear from your mind, your heart and your language. It’s often about stepping forward on unsteady feet, about not knowing where you’re going and not being sure of the outcome — but understanding that only by letting go of certainty can you come fully alive.

4. Don’t ‘Go Low’ — or make up when you do.
We all have some low moments, we do things we’re not proud of. We all have times when we’d like to turn back the clock on our behaviour.

But don’t intentionally “go low” — don’t try to bring others down, don’t insult others, don’t play tit-for-tat when they criticise you. Try not to do things you know you will regret, especially if they involve hurting others. When you do, atone for them or apologise — as quickly as you can.

No matter what comes at you, try to walk the high road.

5. Be a (flawed) hero to someone.
I’ve worked with many people who’ve shied away from the idea of being role models. I get it: it’s a hefty responsibility and we’re all scared of baring our flaws to the world (or the trolls). But we’re all role models, too. Particularly if you’re a parent, teacher, coach or manage/work with young people. They’re watching, even if they pretend they’re not.

Strive to be the kind of person you’d want to watch, and copy. You don’t have to be perfect but think about what you’re modelling and try to offer the best you’ve got — not the worst.

6. Be a hero to yourself.
Living with courage means to speak up when you know something is wrong. It means making a stand for yourself and what you believe in. At the end of the day, there’s only one person who’ll cast judgment on who you were and how you lived. That’s the person who matters; the only person you can’t afford to disappoint. You know who that is, don’t you?

Life is an unpredictable beast. There are many reasons we don’t do in life what we set out to do or become who we thought we would. That’s okay. As long as we play the big game; as long as it’s not fear that holds us back.

Photo by:  Merry Christmas from Pixabay  
Karen Nimmo

Karen Nimmo


Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Top writer in InspirationLoveSelf ImprovementMental Health,   PsychologyRelationshipsLifeLife LessonsEntrepreneurship

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