Do you remember yourself standing there, on the edge of the diving board? Every inch of you resisted jumping, but at the same time you knew you didn’t want to quit – because you would regret it. As adults, we may not stand on edges of diving boards too often anymore, but we still come across similar situations.
Courage is like a muscle. You can challenge it by training every day, in all sorts of ways.
As human beings, we get scared sometimes. And we should be glad about that, because if we didn’t know fear, we wouldn’t wait for a train crossing, or go for a picknick among wild animals. The trick is to distinguish among different kinds of fear. Are you scared for a reason – because you need to protect yourself – or is fear blocking your growth? If it’s the latter, it’s time for a challenge. You don’t need to go bungeejumping tomorrow, but the more often you do a scary thing, the more your self-esteem grows. And the more interesting your life gets.
Practice giving zero f***s about others’ opinions. Tune in on how you’re feeling (is this what you want? Is it good for you), not on what someone else might think of it. And remember: most of the times, you don’t even know what they’re thinking. So why worry about it?
Set up a list of all the things you would love to do, but are too scared to do. Pick one of the points on the list every month, and do it. One ‘small’ thing every month, one big thing every year (skydiving, rafting, singing on stage).
Courage isn’t just about doing Very Scary Stuff. It’s also about finding the ‘awkward spot’. Doing things that make you feel uneasy, like chatting with this handsome person on the train, leading a meeting, speaking up about what you like in bed, getting up on the roof to fix the gutter when you’re afraid of heights, taking pole dancing lessons – everyday stuff you would rather avoid.
The fear of failure may stop you from doing scary stuff. But if you never make mistakes, this means you never take risks – and your life will be very dull. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn and the more you grow.
Text: Dorien Vrieling – Photo: Todd Quackenbush
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