For the past five weeks, I have been coaching an online group with participants from all over the world. It has been a powerful vehicle, with members of the group learning how to define goals, overcome obstacles, get support, and take action. It’s this final module, called “Taking Action,” that I want to share with you.
What does this entail? How can you bring more courage into your day-to-day life as well as your professional life? I am referring to finally saying no to something, like smoking or drinking coffee or eating sugar. Or perhaps for you, it’s saying yes, like being more loving or vulnerable, or asking for things you want. It may be time to step out of your comfort zone, embrace whatever fear or discomfort you may be feeling, and plowing right through it. Imagine the possibilities if you allow yourself to be more authentic and live life from that place.
All of us are feeling either a little or a lot more fragile these days, and I’d like to help you by sharing a few stories of courage.It’s ok to start small. Maybe reading this will be your own act of courage. If you’re ready to continue reading, that’s great. If not, I have an old trick that I share with my coaching clients. Simply imagine that someone else is taking a look at the idea of being more courageous, or that you are curious and want to learn something new.
Sarah is a single mom living in Germany. She grew up in (Communist) East Germany and recalls a childhood filled with rules, conformity, suffering, and lack of expression. Her parents repeatedly told her that it wasn’t safe to do things that went against the rules. She grew accustomed to falling in line so as not to upset her parents. But all of that changed when she had a son out of wedlock after an affair with a married man. The father of her child lived in another country with his wife and children. For years, Sarah wanted to tell her son about his father and his other family, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was afraid that it would hurt her son and that their relationship would be damaged forever. It seemed easier to live in constant fear that her son would learn the truth.
A few weeks ago, Sarah decided to muster up the courage to talk to her son. She realized that it would be much better for him to hear the truth from her, and that the consequence of her silence would be far more damaging. But logic was not enough. What made this action so difficult? She was overcome by intense emotions of anxiety and fear mixed with shame and guilt.
After a few hours of emotional turmoil, she decided to move forward. She knew that if she waited for all her feelings to be in harmony, she would never have that talk with her son. She began to envision how she would feel — and how her son would feel — after the conversation. She took a deep breath and jumped right in.
Sarah told me how much her son appreciated this conversation. He said he always knew there was more to the story. More importantly, he now felt closer to his mother because she had had the courage to share it with him.
Inspiration, power and courage
I see this as a story of inspiration, power, and courage, and celebrate it as a win for humanity. Two souls were set free from judgments and expectations and were able to share a deep truth.
Life is mostly not linear and messy. It is full of judgments, adjustments, and unpleasant surprises. That isn’t pessimism because non-linear and messy doesn’t ever have to mean bad. What is most important right now is that we stand up and find our inner courage to respond differently, more than ever before. We have the chance to practice staying in the present and living life in an entirely new way. We also have an opportunity to envision a positive, bright future, one that will bring us exactly what we want, and that will work for us. Finally, we have an opportunity to let go of the past. To forgive, forget, apologize, correct and do whatever it takes to leave the past behind. All of this takes courage: courage to admit being stuck, and courage to define the things we want in life; courage to see the things we need to correct.
Are you ready and willing to take action?
If you’re ready to move forward, I suggest the following exercise:
- Write down three areas where being courageous could make a difference in your life. Don’t think about it too much – write whatever comes to mind. Mine are; health, primary relationship, and my son.
- Next, write down one action step you can take by the end of the month that could transform one of those areas. For example: talk with your spouse about connecting more, or having more fun or revitalizing your intimate life. Take a trip with your child or talk to him/her about how to manage the back-to-school challenge. Take a look at your health. Maybe you need to see a doctor; maybe it’s time to quit eating sugar.
- Whatever it is – even a small step, decide and take action.
My courage steps
One of my courage steps was to take my son on a two-day camping trip. This was a big thing for me as I had never done anything like it and neither had he. We had a wonderful time and connected deeply and I am so blessed to have done it and I am hoping to have many more trips like this.
Another step was to travel to Germany despite corona tests, lots of paperwork, and possible quarantine. I was nervous, but in the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought. I am delighted to be in Germany visiting with family and taking on more courageous actions.
Courage is an action that comes from the heart. Ask yourself: what can I do to support my heart? What courageous decision have I been avoiding, what courageous conversation will set me free, and how can courage transform my life?
I know these are powerful and challenging conversations to have, but we are living in powerful and challenging times that require an appropriate response.
Give it a try. I believe in you, and I know that the truth will set you free.