Senator John McCain once said that courage is a muscle that needs to be flexed.
If that is true, anyone can grow more courageous by simply developing a courage work out.
I used to pray each morning, “God take the fear from my heart and fill me with your courage.” I felt like the cowardly lion going through the forest, clutching his tail and shivering. It seemed like my prayer would never be answered.
While I was wasting my time waiting for a wizard to slap a badge of courage on me, I am pretty sure God was standing by me patiently waiting for me to move my muscle so he could answer my prayer. Finally, I realized I would need to do some work. Like a baby trying to walk on its own, I could not succeed without getting up and trying out my legs.
Here are just a few suggestions to create a courage workout:
1. Make a list of what scares you.
List them all beginning with the small things and go on to the big hairy ones. List out what potential for harm they bring you. Is it real threats or imaginary? If real threats, what’s the worst that could happen? Could you live with that?
Now that you have your list, you have a starting point. Begin with the smaller ones and eventually work your way up. You may want to jump off the high dive, but maybe all you can do today is stick your toe in the water. Tomorrow, you may be able to walk to the steps.
Each day will be a new step and pretty soon you’ll be standing on the platform with your heart racing, but getting stronger. With each step, each accomplishment, your courage muscle will grow and strengthen.
2. Do something that scares you every day.
Start small. It could just be introducing yourself to the new boss or it could be trying something new in your yoga practice that scares you.
I love the way my favorite yoga instructor encourages her class by saying, “Don’t think, just do it!” Don’t give your negative voices a chance—just go. A daily courage workout will quickly make you stronger.
3. Visualize yourself being courageous.
Take something from your list that has hindered you from achieving a dream or goal.
Now visualize yourself achieving that dream. How would you feel? See the results. Hear the applause. Visualize yourself reaping the rewards of success. Now take a deep breath and get started.
Each time you step out of your comfort zone or do something that scares you, acknowledge your triumph.
Tell your friends. Throw a party. It may be something small you have done, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating. It all leads to something bigger with better rewards in the end.
5. Have faith in a higher power.
I love the story from the New Testament about the Apostle Peter leaving the safety of his boat, stepping out onto the water, to meet Jesus as he approached over the waves. Peter was fine until he looked at the sea crashing around him. Then he became afraid and started to sink. Peter’s problem was he lost faith.
The moral—don’t look at the waves! Stay focused on what matters. Have faith in God, yourself, and those that love and support you.
Begin your courage workout like any other. Once you achieve a goal, or get comfortable, take it up a notch. Add some more weight. Find a new challenge. If courage is a muscle, than like a muscle it will deteriorate without use.
You don’t need a wizard to give you a badge of courage. It is within you already, just as the cowardly lion found out.
You just need to flex it!
Lisa Moak lives in Arlington Texas with her youngest son, husband, two dogs and a fat cat. She works in marketing and advertising, but secretly yearns to do something else, anything else, but mainly write and play music. She recently received her master’s from Texas Christian University so she considers herself a horned frog. Lisa is currently looking for her next challenge and thinks a trip to Alaska might be it.
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