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How To Have Courage

There are times in our life that we are asked to be courageous. It may be something big like asking your partner to marry you, travelling on your own for the first time, or speaking in front of a crowd. But what about the small and everyday moments of courage? These matter too! You might not know that they all add up and contribute to a knowing that you can have courage in any moment you choose.

Have you ever wanted to go on a date but you’ve been too scared to ask out the person that you’re interested in? Have you wanted to go to the gym but you’ve been scared to walk through the door because you wouldn’t even know how to use the equipment? Are you in a relationship and don’t know the words to tell your partner how you’re truly feeling, good or maybe less than good?  How often do you find a way to emotionally relate with your kids, friends or partner, connecting in a genuine and vulnerable way, sharing what you admire and respect in them, telling them ‘I love you’. It seems so easy for some people to share feelings but not for you, why?

What about the courage to do things you’ve always wanted, to learn the piano, a new language, go to dance classes or how about karaoke? It can be scary taking that first step, talking to your boss about a raise or to the colleague you’ve been avoiding because they irritate or annoy you. Agghhh! Do you find yourself in the bathroom or hiding at your desk, knowing there is a better way. Why is it so easy for everyone else? (guess what! it’s not).

What Prevents Us From Having Courage

Have you ever found yourself doing something you never thought you’d do and loving it!? And then other times it’s like courage took a vacation and is no-where to be found, like when you lose your keys. You look everywhere (even those places you never thought they would be like in the fridge!) but you just can’t find it. Does it seem like it’s in the moments that a little courage would make the biggest difference that you find it’s gone, even though you can remember you’d felt courage in the past? How do you have courage in the little moments and the big ones? Have you ever wondered what’s actually going on?

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The thing that stops us from having courage, the thing that happens first is that we get scared, or feel fear. It’s usually when we’re confronted with doing something for the first time, something we haven’t done for a while or something we are not confident in. We’re about to do something and we make it out to be a huge thing, like going on a first date when you find the other person really attractive or just really special! There is a fear that comes over us, it swoops in like an invisible blanket, and then the thoughts start. What are they going to think of me, what am I going to talk about, what if they don’t like me, are maybe some of the hundreds of thoughts as you prepare and walk up to them. Imagine those times, whether it be a date, or another situation like going for an interview, or asking your boss for a raise.

The First Step

The way that our mind works is that we bring what we fear most to our attention? So, if you are going for a job or you’re asking for a raise, what’s the thing that you actually fear the most? It’s your boss saying no and maybe thinking of you differently, or your date not liking you.

Before you can change anything you need to know where you are first. It’s like you’re in the Sydney CBD and you want to get to the Opera House. You open up Google Maps and it asks you if it can use your current location. It needs to know where you are before it can direct you where to go. You have to let it know that you are in Pitt Street before it can give you accurate directions. It’s the same thing happens when you’re trying to overcome fear and get to courage. Your mind want’s to create a map to get from point A to point B.

Knowing what the fear is, or identifying specifically what scares you will help. But at times we want to ignore it because the fear is scary or uncomfortable so we shove it to one side. What if to get to the little moments of courage, we first need to get to know what the little fears are. These little things could be what opens the door to courage or even just a better understanding in order to take the first steps in the right direction. The reason we feel this fear is because of the unknown. If you were certain you would get that job then you wouldn’t be scared of going for the interview, right?. If you knew the person you were about to meet was going to be the love of your life then you wouldn’t be so afraid of going up and starting a conversation, would you?

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Sometimes we remember the significant moments of courage we’ve experienced and forget the hundreds (or thousands) of little ones. Or maybe they seem insignificant because now we have grown, had more experience and the thing that used to be difficult is now much easier. I used to hate talking to people on the phone, even hearing the phone ring would make me feel uncomfortable. But once I recognised and decided to overcome this fear, after doing it a few times I got better at it, and now I am on the phone all the time.

Finding Courage

Remember when you learned to do something for the first time? When you learned to swim, ride a bike, or tie your shoelaces, or even walk or talk? When we learned to ride a bike it was fun, and then we got better at it and wanted to ride faster, or further, we raised the bar, we set our standards higher.

As you do something again and again you raise your awareness for what is possible and set a new target. You may get more comfortable at it and you think now that it’s easier, let’s make it harder.  When you do this your mind is creating and upgrading the picture to what is now possible.

We’ve talked about pictures before (and if you can’t remember – go back and read the ‘How to handle embarrassment article’). Every thought you have is creating a picture in your mind’s eye. A picture that our unconscious mind is trying to fulfill. Your unconscious mind is creating these pictures all the time and they are influenced by what you read in magazines, what you see your friends or others doing, by your colleagues at work, your family, what you see on the TV or movies or facebook etc… You create a picture for being better, faster, prettier, slimmer, more attractive, being funnier or more intelligent or successful. There is no limit to the number of pictures that our mind can create.

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What holds us back is that we create (without knowing it) a picture of what we want (new car, hot boyfriend or girlfriend, successful career, confident talking to people) what we want to happen in our life or how we want a situation to go. We want to be an outgoing, friendly, intelligent person going on a date, having great conversation and laughing, being open and being all these amazing, incredible things.

And then in a moment when you are about to walk up, meet this person or ask for their number. Suddenly all these other pictures appear.  You know the ones. The ones that say you are not good enough, that you are not fun, what if you are not intelligent, what if there’s somebody else who is smarter or prettier or funnier, did they just look at someone else? What if you’re not their type, all these what if’s, these little fears, they go crazy!  What if, what if, what if! They prevent us from doing the thing that would actually make a difference. How did we learn to tie our shoelaces? By doing it, right? The same thing applies to almost everything, in order to get good at something, you have to start doing it.

One of the things that successful and courageous people do often is make quick decisions, especially when there is a fear that can be overcome in the moment. Otherwise known as the 3 second rule. You might have heard about it before. It goes like this… When you are out with friends and you see someone who you want to meet, you have 3 seconds to walk up and introduce yourself. What this does is it interrupts any thoughts from starting and, more importantly, stops the bulk of the pictures from coming up that say you’re not good enough, what if they don’t like me, what if this or what if that. Just doing it in 3 seconds means you are in the moment and handling it the best way you can (and getting better every time). So the first thing you can do is act, do something, it takes 3 seconds! It’s the moment of being brave.

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Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer

Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight.  In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.

Another powerful force to enable courage and dull fear is to remember a time when you did something courageous. I think back to a time when you felt courageous and brave or if you don’t remember a specific time imagine someone who you believe to be courageous, they may be real or from a movie. I love movies because there are so many examples of people having courage, doing something they never thought would be possible.

The way I do it is I find somewhere comfortable and close my eyes for a minute before I go on that date, or to that interview or before I talk to my boss. I imagine a previous time I felt courageous. This is the fuel to start changing your pictures, take a little bit of control back even if just for a few minutes. Like stepping into a scene from your own personal movie of your life or stepping into a photo of you having courage, I imagine how I felt, that time of feeling courage. I remember what I was seeing, what I was doing, what I was thinking that time I was feeling courageous. And I create a real picture like an actor in a movie of my life for this one moment of courage. Try it, and If you don’t remember a time you felt courageous then imagine someone who you know who does or imagine you’re a character in a movie who feels courage.

Notice how your body moves, your shoulders may go back a little, you may notice your breathing change, slower or deeper, you may change the way you are sitting or standing when you’re feeling that moment of courage.  Do it before your date, interview, gym session, first class or before you arrive at work. Any situation a little courage would be useful, and notice the differences. The little ways that the feeling of courage helps the situation. You may notice that it’s easier to talk to your boss, to ask for help at the gym or a conversation is more engaging on your date. And if you don’t notice this yet, keep going. Every time you practice it will help.

So go ahead, go out there, have some courage to find your fears and know what they are, overcoming them a little at a time. Don’t let them stop you and have fun!

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