July 14, 2023
Mental Health

As Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek”. When you read that, what does it mean to you? For me, it reminds me that sometimes in life we have to face the fear, go to that place we are unsure of, in order to live a more meaningful, fulfilling, and joyful life. To live the life we want.

Think about how fear is holding you back in your own life. Do you hesitate to take steps forward due to the unknown, or is it because of what other people might say or think, or is it simply the possibility of failure? Also, where is fear showing up in your life? Perhaps it’s getting back into the dating scene, taking that trip to Europe you always wanted to do, moving to a new city, applying for that promotion, trying that new hobby, having that hard conversation, establishing boundaries, or maybe it’s finally going to dinner by yourself. Regardless of where fear may be showing up, giving in to them will only keep things as they are and prevent you from going after goals and dreams that move you forward.

It can be hard to be brave, courageous, and take those risks, it’s flat out scary at times. And let’s face it, it’s called a comfort zone for a reason! The good news is by acknowledging your fears, identifying any limiting beliefs or thoughts holding you back, being vulnerable to letting go of what doesn’t work and be open to something new, you can push yourself outside your comfort zone and into the space where you have confidence, determination, and courage to live your life on your terms!

To help you get out of your comfort zone, here are five tips to begin your courage journey.


Understand Your Fears

Acknowledging your fear and doing the work to then move past it, takes courage. While it may be tempting to just ignore the fear and hope it goes away, it won’t. More often than not, ignoring the fear can make it bigger and seem more unmanageable as time goes on. Understanding your fear, accepting you are afraid (or maybe just uncomfortable) and then finding the root cause, is a big step towards courage. To better understand your fear, one technique to try is the “five whys”. It’s asking “why?” five times in a row to get to a root cause. 

For example, maybe you’ve moved to a new city and are hesitant to go to a meetup group. 

“I’m afraid to meet and talk to new people.”

Why? “I’ve always struggled meeting new people.”

Why? “It makes me uncomfortable to talk to people I don’t know.”

Why? “I always get nervous and self-conscious.”

Why? “I’m worried that they’re judging me.”

Why? “Because I don’t think I have anything worthwhile to share and connect with them on.”

While you might have thought that your fear was related to meeting new people, it’s more about not feeling worthy enough to connect with others. Understanding the fear and the reason behind it helps you look at the situation with a different perspective. Once you know what’s really going on you will have the ability to decide how to address it.


Challenge Negative Thoughts

Many times negative thoughts will hold you back from taking a positive step. One way to identify negative thoughts is testing to see if it is a limiting belief or not. You can use your hand to anchor the questions:

Thumb – Is this thought or belief always true?

Index finger – Is this thought or belief supporting me to reach my objectives?

Middle finger – Is this thought or belief helping me to solve conflicts and avoid mistakes?

Ring finger – Is this thought or belief helping me feel the way that I want to feel?

Little finger – Is this thought or belief protecting my health and life?

If the answer to at least 3 of those questions are no, then it is a limiting thought or belief. Now that you’ve acknowledged the negative thought as a limiting belief, ask yourself what would be a more supporting belief or thought? Imagine how you would feel and perhaps behave differently with the new thought. What could be possible?


Be Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

Daring decisions may cause potential discomfort, but discomfort shouldn’t be avoided. The more often you find yourself in situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, the more courageous and brave you become. You’ll find yourself leaning into the excitement that comes with stepping outside your comfort zone because you know you will be ok. Think about the times when you did something that you deemed scary. What was the outcome? How did you feel once it was done? Leverage the times when you’ve gotten through uncomfortable situations before to give you the confidence you need to do it again and again.


Create a Game Plan

Going into fearful situations unprepared can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It’s unlikely to prepare for or think through every possible scenario, however you can make a plan to create small goals or action items towards what you set to achieve. Think about what you’d like to accomplish, the resources you need, and what success can look like to get you started. By creating a game plan, it will help you feel that you have a little bit of control over the situation which can help calm anxiety you have about going after your goals.


Find an Accountability Partner

As you step out of your comfort zone into bravery, it can be helpful to have someone to advise and encourage you throughout your journey. Having a mentor or a coach by your side will connect you to your strengths and will provide the resources and tools needed to inspire you to go after your dreams. 


Sources: How to be Brave and Coaching with and for Courage


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