Brave: (adjective) ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage
The truth is that often being BRAVE hurts.
Choosing the BRAVE response is scary. It makes you want to run off and call in the superheroes.
Some days, no one will ever know that you did anything brave. Some days, you hide from the brave reply and just walk the other way.
For me, this year is about owning my own version of BRAVE. I am in the midst of it. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon. You don’t graduate or get a certificate. You often don’t get applause or “likes” on your social media post.
Often, BRAVE is silent.
Some days, being brave is about taking action.
Other days, being brave is about waiting and listening and trusting—basically, not taking action, letting people and places and things move along without controlling or manipulating. All of this is easy to write about and talk about but much harder to do
How do you learn to own your inner BRAVE?
Here are 3 ways that I have learned to do this.
Brave Step #1: Recognize Your Fear. I just had a giant fear episode this week, so it is fresh for me. I was on the phone sitting in the parking lot in front of Yogurt Land. I had eaten my little tart yogurt with granola and yogurt chips, and I was on a phone call. I was listening to someone share a part of their life with me. All of a sudden, I felt like a tsunami of fear was rising up to meet me. I felt anxious. I felt like running (emotionally) from the person (even though we were on the phone). I felt as if I could feel every single fear, hurt, warning sign, and piece of baggage from my entire 42 years in that 5-10 minutes. But at least I realized that I was afraid. I actually said to myself after the phone call, “I am afraid. This is what FEAR feels like.”
When I dive in deep, I ask myself….
- Are you afraid of losing something you think you have?
- Or, not getting something you think you want?
- Are you afraid of failing and people finding out?
- Are you afraid of succeeding and having to maintain at a certain level?
- Are you afraid of being seen?
- Are you afraid of being found out?
- Are you afraid of letting someone into your dark places?
- Are you afraid of letting go?
- Are you afraid of the messiness and unpredictable nature of relationships?
Own the feeling. Speak it. Look it in the face.
Willingness is a challenge. I often don’t want to do things. I don’t want to feel things. I want to have my own way, control the outcome, change the “game”, or avoid the entire experience because it just looks way too hard. I want someone to rescue me, and I look around and there is no one swooping in. Tonight, I wanted someone to open my salsa jar that I could not get open, and I had to not give up and be willing to keep working on it if I really wanted to eat the salsa.
I have had to learn to be willing to be willing. I have also had to learn how to not get too far down the path into overthinking and overanalyzing, to surrender my endless questions: What if this happens? or What if that happens?
Practice being willing to be willing. This helps the “brave in you” have room to breathe.
Brave Step #3: Stand Still
“Standing still” does not come easy to me. I am normally racing to reach a goal of my own making, or scurrying off to get to the next event or jumping on my next phone call with a client. Part of being brave is standing still. Don’t run. Don’t hide in the bathroom. Don’t slither under the bleachers. Don’t apologize for being afraid or being strong or being loud or being beautiful. Own your journey. Stand in your own process.
This includes learning to share your feelings, asking for help, and surrendering your need to know the outcome.
Stand still and own your own BRAVE, your inner brave. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Stand on the stage and hold the microphone. Then, sing.
Stay tuned as I share more of my brave journey with you as I do things on my Be Brave List in 2015, including riding in a hot air balloon, singing on a stage, getting my passport renewed (and then using it) and any other BRAVE thing that arises.
Diane Cunningham is the Founder and President of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs (NACWE). She is a “business therapist,” plane crash survivor, author of 5 books, consultant, speaker, marathon runner, and fun friend. She is offering a one year Be Brave Today Life Experience for a small group of women. Find out more about her at www.DianeCunningham.com and discover more about NACWE here: www.nacwe.org. Connect with Diane at www.facebook.com/DianeCunningham for fun updates, silly videos, and lively conversation.