Anaïs Nin wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Being brave isn’t something that you always are. We aren’t all Captain America. We aren’t all always cowards either.
That’s what it is to be human. We are brave sometimes, maybe even all the times, but sometimes? Sometimes things feel too much, too big, too impossible and we get scared.
And in these very difficult times it can make a lot of sense to be scared.
How do you be less scared?
1.Know who you are
When you know your values, when you know who it is and what you stand for? It helps when you have things bashing against you.
I’ve always been ridiculously self-righteous about certain things and I know it can be a terrible trait, but it really helps when it comes to being brave. That surety in what I believe and my values allows me stand by those values.
2. Realize Fear Doesn’t Always Go Away
And that’s okay. Fear doesn’t have to always be conquered. It can be dealt with instead.
Understanding what makes you scared, helps you deal with that fear.
I’m terrified of putting my paintings out there because I still hear the negative scripts of my mom from when I was a kid. “Nobody in our family has a lick of artistic talent.”
She’d throw away my drawings and keep my stories. Is it any wonder I’m a writer?
So, I know that my fear about painting is about being rejected. That knowledge helps me do this every Friday. It helped when I was part of an art walk and people perused and scrutinized my work. But damn, I’m still always scared.
One of my lovely writer friends asked, “How can you be so scared when people are so nice about your art all the time?”
Let me tell you. I am scared all the time-scared of rejection, meanness, trolls, bad reviews, confrontations, not achieving, not being good enough according to some random standard that isn’t even my own.
But being scared all the time? That means I get to be brave all the time.
I get to practice being courageous every day.
The same thing goes for my Muppet voice. I know I am still afraid to talk, to podcast, to present because I was told how my voice would keep me from achieving, that nobody would ever love me because I sound so silly and nobody would ever take me seriously and I’d never have a job.
That’s why we do our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
I practice being brave.
I’m still afraid when I do the podcast. Every time. I’m still afraid when I lead a class of writers or speak to a room of 1,000 people. Every time.
But I do it anyway because I don’t want my fear to keep me from opportunities, to keep me from being the best person I can be.
I hope you can do that too. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it.
Know why the fear is there. Practice living with it.
3. Give Yourself Some Slack
When it comes to being brave, it’s not always going to be awesome. You will sometimes not want to run on a treadmill, present at a meeting, try out for a show. That’s normal.
Be as kind to yourself as you are to your kids, your dog, your best friend. You don’t need to be mean to yourself. Random trolls will do that for you.
The more you give yourself kindness, the easier it is to be brave. You’ve got to be your own cheerleader, not just your own critic.
That’s it. Know who you are and what you stand for, give yourself some of the empathy and kindness you deserve and know that being brave isn’t an all or nothing thing all the time.
Earlier today, our county sheriff told me on Facebook that I was tough. I almost cried (which doesn’t seem very tough) because nobody ever thinks of me that way. But he saw me and that? It meant everything and he was brave enough to tell me what he saw.
Do that for yourself. Do that for others. Being brave isn’t just about helping yourself, it’s about helping other people, too.
Here’s my random painting that I made this week on a plank of wood in five-minute increments during breaks in my work.
LET’S HANG OUT!
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