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Everyone needs courage from time to time. Here are some steps to building courage even in the most difficult situations.
What is Courage?
According to Merriam-Webster.com, courage is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
To me, that definition means that I can do things that scare me or are hard for me.
Do you need some courage? Follow these steps and see how much courage you can muster.
Step 1: Recognize Your Fear
Acknowledge your fear and understand why you are feeling scared or uncertain. Look at your situation and figure out what scares you or is hard for you at that time.
For example, I am terrified of dogs. I have been since I was bitten when I was 8 years old. Now, whenever I see a dog, I immediately begin to look for a way to hide or leave. If I hear a dog, I begin looking for it so that I can make my escape plan.
Step 2: Set a Goal
What do you want to achieve in this situation? Can you tell what courage means to you at this specific time?
For me, with dogs, courage means that I don’t curl up in a ball on the floor crying. Also, that would not be the best escape from a dog. Courage for me when a dog is near could also mean that I don’t run over others or push someone else in the path of the dog. (Yes, I have done both of those things in the past. Sometimes, I still push my husband or daughter between me and a dog, when I see one.)
Determine what courage is in that specific moment. Sometimes, you can do this beforehand. Other times, you have to do this on the spot when a situation arises.
Step 3: Gather Information
If you have time before you are in a situation, it’s best to do this ahead of time. Again, you may have to make quick assessments at the moment.
Figure out as much about the situation as you can. If you know what you will be facing, figure out what you will do or say to handle it. If it is a spur-of-the-moment situation, come up with the best possible solution.
Back to my dog situation. If I am going somewhere new, like to visit someone’s home, I ask if they have animals. This answer tells me two things: 1. Do I need more allergy medication (since I’m allergic to just about every animal ever), and 2. Do I need to tell them about my fear?
If they tell me that they have cats, I say, “ok, just checking because I’m allergic to everything.” If the person has dogs, I start by saying that I’m allergic, but then I explain that I was bitten by a dog and am now scared of all dogs.
When you are going to be in a situation that could require courage, try to get information beforehand. Have the information you need at your disposal when possible.
Step 4: Create a Plan
After you have all the information you can get, come up with a plan. This could be a well thought out plan that you develop weeks before the situation. Or, it could be a split-second plan that you come up with as you are in a courage-building situation.
For example, if you hate speaking in public but you have been invited to speak to a group, you will practice and prepare for as long as possible. You will wear comfortable clothing. On the day of the speech, you will take someone with you for support.
On the other hand, if you find yourself having to speak in front of people all of a sudden, you will have to write down a few notes (or put them in your phone), find someone in the audience you know or who looks friendly, take a deep breath, and speak.
When I tell people I am scared of dogs, we normally laugh about it. I try to make a joke of it. I’m in my 40s and scared of dogs. However, most of the time, we can work something out where the dog is outside (like it normally is) or it is put in a different room that won’t be opened while I’m there.
I did, however, have one friend who told me she would not put her dogs up because they had never hurt anyone, and I would have to get over it. Needless to say, I never went to her house. That was the plan I had to devise for that situation.
When going into a situation, create a plan as quickly as possible and then put it into action.
Step 5: Seek Support
When you need courage, sometimes finding a friend, family member, or mentor is a great part of the plan. They can help you gather information. Sometimes they have been in the same situations and can give you insight as to what can or will happen.
In my situation, everyone who knows me can tell you I am scared of dogs. Most of them are willing to try to help me when a dog comes around. Ironically, most of my friends and family are dog lovers and/or dog owners. It is easy for them, most of the time, to talk to or play with a dog while I get into a store or car.
Find someone to talk to that you can trust. You never know how much another person can help you to build your own courage. Then, one day, you may be able to do the same for him/her.
Step 6: Take Action
Find a way to put your plan into action. It could be taking a small first step, like accepting the invitation to speak to the group. That step takes courage. The next step would be writing the speech and rehearsing it. Do you see how each small step makes it easier to get to the bigger steps?
When it comes to dogs, my first step is asking if there are animals. Then I explain the situation. Depending on the person, and the number of animals in the location, we begin working on a plan to do what we need to do.
Each step in your plan takes you closer to building courage. Even the small steps are building blocks in this journey.
Step 7: Celebrate Your Successes
Each time you achieve part of your plan, celebrate it. This will help you to continue building courage as you move to the end goal.
The celebration doesn’t have to be big. It could be a cup of coffee that you make for yourself. It can be a post online that says, “I finished writing my speech!” Make the celebration about your goal to build courage and celebrate yourself.
When I “get away” from a dog, since, obviously, all dogs are trying to get me, my celebration is using tears. I allow myself to cry because when I am in the moment of trying to leave the situation, I try not to cry.
Have a celebration, not a huge party for each milestone, but just take a minute to think about what you have accomplished.
Step 8: Reframe Your Thoughts
The best way to change negative thoughts to positive ones is to pray about them. “Do not be afraid” is in the Bible 365 times. That means that there is one verse about fear for every day of the year (February 29th excluded)!
God doesn’t want us to be afraid, so He gives us reasons and verses to focus on when we are scared or worried.
Take the time to learn a few of the verses and pray them for your life and the situation where you need courage. If you need help learning to pray the scriptures, check out my post where I explain all about how to do it.
Ask God to help you change your negative thoughts to positive ones for your situation.
Step 9: Take Care of Yourself
This is something you should do anyways, but sometimes when we are working on building courage in our lives, we neglect this step. Eat well, get exercise, and sleep enough.
All of those things are part of self-care, and you need to do them in order to stay healthy. When you are healthy, you are more capable of building courage for your situations.
When you finish reading this, head over to my post about 5 types of self-care.
Step 10: Repeat the Process
Keep doing these steps for building courage. Every time you do them, you will build a little more.
You may need to do them for different situations, and that’s fine too. Just keep using these steps to build courage. When you have the courage for one situation, it will help you to have it in another one, even if you didn’t do all the steps to prepare.
These steps to building courage may sound like a lot of work. However, as Christians and moms, we have to have courage. We stand up for our children and our faith, sometimes at the same time.
Building courage is just one way to be an amazing mom for your kids. Plus, when you have courage in situations that are scary or difficult for you, your kids will see that. Then they will begin to build their own courage for things in their lives.
Take a few minutes today to see where you need to begin building courage in your life. Let me know in the comments how I can help you.