Whether facing a difficult challenge or striving to achieve a goal, courage is the key to success. Learn how to cultivate bravery and make a lasting impact on your life.
Table of Contents
- Settling In
- Brave and Courageous
- Related Topics
Have you ever had to make a momentous change in your life, like moving to a new city or starting a new job, and found yourself revisiting lessons you thought you had already learned?
That was me during the tumultuous year of 2020 when I moved between provinces and cities in China. Looking back on that experience, I realize how much fear I felt at the time and how much I learned about myself and what I wanted for my life.
In this blog post, I will share my reflections on that journey and offer a four-stage practice that helped me summon the courage to make that move and continue making bold choices in my life.
Whether you’re facing a big decision right now or just looking for inspiration to take a new direction in your life, this post will offer you some insights and encouragement.
I am settling into my new home in 海口Haikou, Hainan, and feeling inspired to share a few key lessons I have learned on this journey.
Many of you have shared your love and kindness with me, and I am grateful. You have also said I am ‘brave’ and ‘courageous. I accept your kind compliments, and this is an excellent opportunity to share some insight with you.
Brave and Courageous
What is brave and courageous?
These are two characteristics I have rarely possessed. Yet, I see how moments of bravery and courage have set me on the right path of purpose in my life.
In my previous post, ‘Self-Love Transforms Us to Become Love,’ I mentioned how our way unfolds when we align with ourselves and our higher purpose.
In my own experiences, these atomic moments are where we need to muster up all our bravery and courage to have the most significant impact on our lives.
How do we do this? While not knowing the whole answer, I will share a few key learning points from my journey.
Here’s what we will explore
- Summoning courage by looking in the mirror.
- Being courageous by taking inventory.
- Being brave enough to enjoy our own company.
- Courageously speak your truth.
Summon Courage by Looking in the Mirror
When was the last time you looked in the mirror at yourself?
I mean, really look in the mirror, not just at your self-perceived flaws.
It is so easy to put our focus on others around us. Focusing our attention outside of us, either in person or online, through our perception of wanting to be better.
The flip side is feeling like we are not enough. Focusing on others is a great distraction, helping most of us cope with what we are experiencing.
Here’s a short exercise to get started focusing on yourself:
- Take time each day to look in the bathroom mirror and make full eye contact with yourself.
- Once you are locked in, take a few moments to talk about what you like about yourself.
- With eye contact only, share the things about yourself that you often think about but never speak about.
This exercise mostly starts with the things we need to improve about ourselves.
Through continued practice, you will eventually get to a place to deeply appreciate yourself and share loving, compassionate words with yourself. Give yourself time and space to do this.
It took me months of daily attempts and frustration before I fully immersed myself in this self-love exercise.
When I feel disconnected from myself, I get off track and lose focus on my vision, goals, and purpose for doing what I do and enjoy. Taking the time and focusing on myself in the mirror helps me reconnect.
The key takeaway here is ‘as within, so without.’
When we are in a state of compassion and kindness with ourselves, we courageously let that light shine in its purest form to others around us.
Deep breath. You got this!
Find Courage to Take Inventory
Look around you and take stock of what you fill your time with.
- Where does your attention go throughout your day?
- How do you start your day?
- What are your habits and rituals consistent throughout each day?
I read ‘Atomic Habits’ (Clear, 2018) and loved it so much I recommend it to my loved ones and students. ‘Atomic Habits’ (2018) changed my life.
In the book and on the author’s website, he offers insight into how our habits shape our reality.
Here are two takeaways that resonated:
- We often set goals for ourselves. Once we reach the goal, we are left seeking another destination to feel like we are setting the course for accomplishment and fulfillment.
- Constantly chasing leaves us always pursuing and seeking outside of ourselves rather than focusing within to reach a state of joy.
I use joy because happiness is fleeting.
We feel happy, see happiness in others, and say we want happiness, but how does happiness fulfill us?
Happiness is an emotion, and when we are stuck in a thought pattern to focus on only one feeling, we lose the essence of the source and become unhappy.
So, when you see posts and memes about happiness coming from within and not letting anyone else be the source of your happiness, joy is the source.
- What do you do each day to connect with your spirit of joy?
- How do your habits influence your daily routine and sense of joy when you lay your head on your pillow at night?
This one was difficult for me to wrap my head around. I always believed in setting goals to feel a sense of accomplishment. I have learned that by only focusing on attaining the goals to define my success, I missed opportunities to experience joy in each moment.
Using the tools offered in ‘Atomic Habits,’ I started with taking inventory of each day. Recording everything I did for one week and deeply researched how I spent my time.
Once I had the data, I started to map out what helped me in my mission for a state of joy. Removing what no longer served me, I felt closer to feeling joy each day.
By taking inventory, you will create systems aligned with your desires. Ultimately creating a consistent state of joy, with days filled with exploring each experience.
With inventory and reflection, you will learn to consciously decide if the activity, relationship, connection, job, etc., serve your higher purpose and potential for who you desire to become.
The key takeaway here is ‘love grows where attention flows.’
When we focus our attention each day on what elevates us to align with our greatest potential, we create opportunities to reflect our self-love and light on the world around us.
Summon Courage to Spend Time with Yourself
One of the other things I do throughout my day, every day, is meditating.
Meditation has helped me to connect my mind, body, and spirit.
Starting with focusing on your breath, you can settle back into your body and feel a heartfelt appreciation for its greatness.
Here is a short exercise to get started:
- Sit or lay comfortably and settle your breathing.
- Soften your eyelids by smiling slightly during this exercise.
- Then, take a long deep breath into your belly.
- Count to three and slowly let it out while counting to five.
This stop point of holding for three seconds is magical. You will feel the tension leave your body, and your muscles will relax.
Focusing on conscious breathing is where my practice started, and I am grateful.
I take ten minutes to connect with my body each morning before I get out of bed. At the end of my days, I spend thirty minutes shedding the day’s energy and giving thanks.
There are several apps to use for meditation. YouTube also has several options for guided meditations or meditations with only music.
If you are interested in Chakra meditation, this video on YouTube is a good starting point:
Meditation need not be intimidating. If meditation isn’t your jam, try laughter!
Last fall, I took a Laughter Yoga workshop and incorporated some exercises into my classes.
There is nothing like a good full belly laugh to relieve tensions and blocks and to get the positive light flowing through you and around you.
Child-like silliness helps us to reconnect ourselves with our deepest selves. You can do several exercises by searching videos and information about ‘laughter yoga.’ It’s always amazing how you can start feeling meh and faking it, and then you end with tears rolling down your face and a sore belly from wholehearted laughter.
The key takeaway is, ‘You are a magnificent being filled with love and light.’
By being with yourself and appreciating yourself honestly, you create energy to share with the world around you.
So, if you chose laughter yoga, be silly, my darlings!
Laughter is the best medicine, and if you don’t feel comfortable generating that state alone, watch funny videos, cats and cucumber videos, whatever gets you giggling, and enjoy the moment.
This YouTube channel explains laughter yoga with simple five minute exercises:
Summon Courage to Speak Your Truth
How many times this past week have you left a conversation thinking, ‘I should have said _____.’ Or ‘I didn’t say _____ because _____’?
Always a people pleaser and raised in a family system where everyone had to be friendly, I often kept my thoughts and ideas to myself in personal relationships.
From my own experience, I was always scared to speak my truth because I feared abandonment. Oof.
Read that again, please.
When we hold back, we are holding back opportunities to align with the best version of ourselves.
I remember a student coming to me a few years ago. He was an international student and felt isolated, alone, wrong, and unworthy. He told me he was having difficulty fitting in and felt like everyone around him thought he was weird.
I asked him what he thinks he does when he feels others are judging him. He said he says things abruptly or comes into the group so happy and someone had a difficult day, and they say he is insensitive.
He said they don’t really like doing the same things he does and always laugh at him.
Now taking into consideration this message is from a 20-something college student from abroad who completely changed everything about his life when he moved to Canada. We can all still relate to the subtlest forms of feeling like we don’t fit in.
I advised him to find his tribe. Finding our tribe is not about finding people who are cookie-cutter ideals of ourselves and our interests. Finding our tribe is about being a person who values speaking your truth, then aligning yourself with others who create space for truth.
Knowing who you are and setting healthy boundaries for yourself is essential. Being clear on your truth and detaching yourself from reacting to the judgment of others is paramount.
Speaking truth does not mean we say what we want without consideration of others. Sharing our authenticity means we hold true to what we believe about ourselves, what we value, and how we see ourselves in relationships with others.
When I was at Royal Roads working on my first master’s degree, one of our professors said, ‘Relationships are not fair or unfair. They are a mystery to be patiently, persistently, and passionately unwrapped.’ (Radford, 2007)
The key takeaway here is ‘speaking truth breathes life.’
When we summon the courage to speak our truth in relationships, sometimes people leave us, which is painful, but okay. The right people will remain, and I can tell you from firsthand experiences with the leaving and the staying that after the pain subsides, there is room for what you desire in your life.
These four practices have helped me to have moments of bravery and courage more consistently.
For example, when I first moved to China, I moved here with the goal of living and working abroad. Sitting in my apartment in Beijing during week two of isolation, living and working abroad, I asked myself, ‘Now what?’
Angry with the situation, missing my family, and discouraged by so many of my other goals derailed, I summoned the courage to look in the mirror. Then, I took inventory. Lastly, I spoke my truth.
For the first time in an exceptionally long time, I feel a sense of peace within me and around me.
By owning ourselves and the skin we are in, we are in a better position to live fully, wholeheartedly, and, more importantly, with gratitude.
Being in our skin in a state of appreciation elevates us to help others around us, attract relationships with others who share this state of being, and co-create a better future for ourselves and our children.
We become a magnet for love and light.
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time,