It’s easy to talk about courage when you’re not facing a crisis in your personal or work life. Not everyone has what it takes to handle stressful situations, but if you feel like fear is holding you back from living your life to the fullest, it’s time to face your doubts and be more courageous.
Fears, doubts, stress and worries can affect someone’s courage. How can you be courageous when facing challenges like a nerve-wracking health diagnosis or changes that can make or break your career?
According to life coach Kate Swoboda, the journey to being more courageous starts by accepting this fact: Not everyone was born with the ability to be courageous when the moment calls for it. You also need to remember that courageous people have decided to turn courageous behaviors into a lifelong habit.
A courageous person isn’t fearless– rather, they feel and accept their fear but they don’t let it stop them from achieving their goals.
Think of courageous people as those who accept that fear will be a part of their journey. However, this fear stays in the passenger seat while a courageous person decides how the journey will go.
People who feel stuck in life because of fear may be caught in self-destructive and fear-based habits.
Fortunately, you can change your habits. To live a fuller life and become more courageous and emotionally resilient, start by practicing the seven habits detailed below.
First, you must commit to behavioral change that will address fear and other stressors in your life. Commitment is a habit that involves deciding to pursue your dream and doing whatever you can to make that dream a reality.
It’s not good enough to say “you’ll try.” Committing to something means you’ll face your fear and make mistakes along the way without giving up your dream.
Being more courageous requires you to revisit old habits, particularly those that may hinder your ability to face your fears. For example, avoiding or attacking fears don’t usually help build courageous habits in the long term.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, stop and assess what your initial response is. Do you try and avoid fear by not making mistakes or do you ignore your fear and do what you want to do anyway?
Some common fear-based patterns that can get you stuck in life include perfectionism, people-pleasing, and self-sabotage. Learn what these patterns look like so you can catch yourself if you get stuck in them, then make an effort to avoid them instead.
Practice this habit when you’re not afraid so you can quickly identify what triggers your decision to fall into these patterns. (Related: How to Release Fear and Motivate Yourself.)
Fear is primal, not logical. This means fear is felt in the body. To build courage, you must first deal with the fear in your body. When you’re scared, binge-watching your favorite show won’t make you feel courageous, it only temporarily relieves your stress and fear.
If you feel fear, use body-based practices to teach your body that it’s strong enough to handle fear, such as:
Choose a body-based practice that allows you to be more conscious of what you feel.
Fearful thoughts will try to convince you that you’re not good enough.
Instead of attacking these thoughts by telling them to go away, some psychological disciplines like narrative therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy suggest that it’s better to listen to what your fear is telling you.
While you listen to your fears, don’t get “attached” to them. These fears aren’t truths that dictate who you are and what you can achieve.
Everyone has limitations. However, the best way to keep your fear of these limitations from holding you back is to reevaluate your limiting stories.
Instead of being stuck thinking that you can’t do one thing, tell yourself that this limitation can be addressed by practicing until you overcome this setback.
Isolation only worsens fear and self-doubt, but being part of a community can help you overcome your fears. When you’re having a tough day, reach out to a loved one or a friend who can help you feel that you are not alone in your journey.
Setbacks and losses are a normal part of life, but cultivating the courage habit and changing your mindset means you’re taking measures to actively face these challenges. Keep practicing these seven habits to build courage and live a fuller life.