Courageous Living

Some tips on how to start living a Courageous Life.

This could be you!

Know your why.

I can’t say this often enough.  Know why you are doing what you are doing.  All too often we just drift through the day, making money at our job, then handing that money over for the bills.  Make money, pay money, worry about money, blah, blah, blah.  Back when you were a kid, when Moby Dick was a minnow, you had dreams and visions and you knew how to use your imagination.  Then we go to school and they beat that out of us to make room for Math Facts and the Grammar.  For years I went to work, counted down the minutes until I could go home and have a beer, wake up the next morning to do it again until Friday.  Then, for a brief hour at the end of the day I’d get really excited about the weekend, but I was so tired that I usually just drank and slept through most of it.  And this was when I had already moved to Paradise.  The beach was 4 blocks away and I was bored.  Talk about living the life.  It wasn’t until I realized that I had no goals or vision anymore that I started to pick the locks on my rainbow handcuffs.  I started to ask myself why I was here, what I wanted from life, why was I in that job, why was I in Hawaii, why did I bother getting up in the morning?

It took me a long time to dig through the muck and the boredom to unbury the dreams I had squished into the far corners of my brain.  But I started to get little glimpses of pure joy.  Ecstasy even.  I began to get excited to get out of bed in the morning.  I started to think about my future.  I began to dream about all of the cool things that I could do.  And little by little I started to do them.

The How is not important.

This one is big for me and I’ve just started playing around with it recently.  It’s something that I’ve been working on, and I’ve been going bigger and bigger.  Decide on what you want.  Commit to it.  The How will always show up once you’ve commit.  I’ve always had the valid excuse that I don’t have enough money to travel back and forth to see family as often as I’d like to.  The problem is that I came to the conclusion that my job pays me X amount of dollars and since there will be no surprise bonus in June, then it can’t be budgeted in.  I was focused on the how.  In January I went to a PSI basic seminar and heard it again, that the how is not important.  So I decided I was going.  Not just to a vacation in July with my family, but also on a PSI 7 day seminar in San Francisco.  Because I had commit to it, suddenly the fear came.  How will I make that money?  And my brain, in it’s glorious brilliance gave me answers.  I could sell stuff I own.  I could sell stuff that I make.  I could provide life coaching and therapy services.  There was a ton of possible options that I wasn’t looking at before because I had a job that paid me X.

Guess what?  I’m going on both of those trips.  They will happen.  I won’t have to look back and regret not making it happen.  Do I know exactly what it is going to look like?  No.  But there are tons of exercises out there that I’ve been using to get some ideas.

Try one of these:

  • Kylego
  • Write a letter to yourself as if you had already made it happen.  Try this letter to yourself from futureme.org
  • Sit down and get a clean piece of paper.  Write the numbers 1-50.  Commit to coming up with 50 different ways to make the money you need.  Think out of the box.  You’re cute, don’t forget prostitution!  Play with the list, after a while your brain will start to come up with some rather clever ideas.

Challenge yourself. 

Don’t think you can do something?  Commit to a challenge.  There are plenty of challenges out there that you can do with a great amount of support from other people.  Don’t think you can get off the couch and run?  Sign up for a race.  Don’t think you can eat healthy?  Join a 30 day challenge.  Don’t think you can learn to play an instrument?  Announce on Facebook that you’ll be playing your guitar on your street corner in 3 months and invite everyone to come.  Community college courses are a great idea as well.  Take an inexpensive painting or hula or sign language course.  Commit to the entire semester.  You’ll be surprised at what you are capable of.

Experiment.

We tend to trust what other people tell us in order to avoid making mistakes that other people have made before.  If someone tells you that the stove top is hot and will burn you, it just makes sense to never touch the stove top, right?  Well, not always.  I’ve found that a lot of warnings I’ve been given over the years came from the land of Good Intention.  But we’ve come a long way from the origins of these warnings.  My mother told me not to touch the stove top and her mother told her not to touch the stove top and her mother before her and the Holy Bible before her.  But what if it turns out that I have one of those induction stove tops that doesn’t burn you?  That is only hot when the right pan is on it?  I’ve been keeping a 2-3 foot “safe” distance from the thing because I thought it would sear off my skin, when I could have been chopping my onions right on it.

I feel like a lot of our handed down warnings are like that.  At some point there was a danger of showing your ankles in front of a man because he might get the wrong idea and you’d end up raped.  But, Thank the Sasquatch, things have changed.  Some other examples:  Don’t tell your boss about your weaknesses.  Don’t wear white before Memorial Day.  Don’t eat pork.  Fat makes you fat.  You have to be germ-free.  You have to use soap that bubbles.  You should get married to a person of the opposite sex and immediately begin popping out babies.  If there is a nuclear bomb warning, get under your school desk, the safest place you could be.

You can continue to live a “safe” life, never exploring the boundaries.  Or you could test it out.  I have nearly invisible scars all over my hands and arms (and the rest of my body) from various experiments.  The pain is temporary and the lessons you learn are priceless.

Carry yourself with confidence.

I used to work at a job with a person who was very confident about his work.  He would tell me all of the things he had done in this position, how he had made so much change in the lives of his clients, how he was a master at groups.  I thought he was amazing!  A couple of years later I actually got to watch how he ran groups.  Well, it was good.  I thought to myself, though, that I was a little better.  And this surprised the hell out of me!  He had so much confidence in how he talked about his abilities, that I just believed.  I didn’t think to question it!  Here I was, being modest, talking down my abilities, and believing that he was better than me.  And not just better than me at group, but I’ll admit that there was a feeling of him being a better person than me.  If there was a promotion opportunity, who do you think they would have given it to?  Even I would have given it to him!

All of a sudden, watching him work, it was like somebody took the blindfold off.  There was several lessons to be learned.  Lesson 1- I was devaluing my abilities.  I was much better than I allowed myself to admit out loud.  I was disrespecting myself by telling other people that I was “okay” at my job, that I did “pretty good” work.  WTF?  Don’t tell me you don’t do this.  I still catch myself.  I can tell you a million ways that someone else does a great job and I’ll tell you that my strongest talents are “no big deal.”  Cut that shit out.

Lesson 2- If you act confident, people believe you.  They don’t question you.  They allow you more freedoms and responsibilities because they think you can handle it.  This is worth some serious experimentation.  At my last job, I started to hate it.  I was really good at getting things done, but no matter how quickly I completed tasks I was still expected to be physically present in my office, even if I wasn’t doing anything, from 7:45am to 4:30pm.  Didn’t matter if the only thing on my to-do list was “twiddle your thumbs.”  I don’t remember why, but one day I was getting ready for work and I didn’t feel like going in yet.  So I procrastinated.  And for no real good reason, except that I wanted to drink a second cup of coffee and pet my dog for a half hour, I was late.  A good hour late.  For some reason I decided that I was not going to apologize or make an excuse (I had car trouble!).  I decided to walk in like I had been somewhere important, as if I was right on time.  Not one person commented or asked me where I had been.  I opened the front door, smiled wide and said hello to the clerk at the front desk, checked my mailbox and walked into my office.  Turns out nobody gives a shit where you are unless there is a good story to it.  They couldn’t sniff out the usual drama, so they ignored me.  A fluke you ask?  I began to do this quite often.  Often enough that I’m sure they knew I was just coming in late.  And I never offered an explanation.  And no one ever asked me.  I just continued to do good work while I was there and left when I was done.  Seriously, try it.  It’s kind of amazing.

Last lesson, Lesson 3- When you act confident, you start to feel confident.  It’s the old fake it til you make it cliche.  Why does this work?  I don’t really know.  I’ve got my theories.  But if you practice putting a genuine smile on your face throughout the day, and you’ll start to feel happier.  Walk into a room with your chest high, your shoulders and head back, and you’ll feel more confident.  It is not a cure for anything, but it’s like a kick-start to a good mood.  Do it.

Follow Your Horn.

Follow your horn originates from a group of my closest friends and family who happen to love unicorns.  It is wordplay on “follow your heart” and means listen to your intuition.  The truth of the matter is when we stop trying to do what other people want us to do we can start listening to our own inner voice.  It turns out that we know an awful lot about ourselves.  This is one of the reasons that meditation is so important.  Meditation helps us practice shutting out the external noise.  Our friends and loved ones, they have good intentions, but you are a better judge of what you need than they are.  Just getting quiet, doing a meditation, a mantra, yoga, or some kind of simple repetitive or rhythmic task can put us in a state of calm and relaxation.  When the mind chatter quiets, when we get still we can tune inwards and see what we truly feel about things.  This is a muscle that needs to be exercised.  At first the chatter won’t go away very quickly or completely.  If this is new to you, you might not know what your body is telling you.  It is worth your time to practice.  When you get good at it, you will be surprised at how easily you will know what to do.

 

What are some of your life rules?  Comment below!

Author: Mary Preston, LMFT

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Life Coach. Through dealing with my own anxiety and attention difficulties over the years I have discovered many useful practices and tools to help regain focus, shift my attention to what's important and to stay organized enough to get the life that I want. In my practice I work primarily with women and children with Anxiety, ADHD and Depression and I share what I've learned to get them back on track to living a full, purpose filled life.

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