Let’s talk about bravery.
Being ‘brave’ doesn’t mean you will or should be fearless. To me, being brave is a) acknowledging that a fear exists, b) breaking it down into its component parts, c) analyzing those components and questioning their legitimacy, and finally, d) making a decision that’s right for you. So how does that work in your daily life? Here’s an example from mine.
In October I earned myself a super fun case of shin splints (not recommended!). I decided to take a break from running and shift my focus to cross-training. In the middle of a somewhat painful bike session, the possibility of hitting the pool crossed my mind: ‘Hmm. I know pool running is a great option for injured runners — I bet that would feel a lot better than this bike does.‘
That thought was quickly smothered out by others. ‘Nah, I’m a terrible swimmer, and I’ve never tried pool running before. I’ll just look ridiculous — my lack of coordination will make sure of that! I’m sure I’ll benefit more from the elliptical if I take it easy. Plus it’s such a hassle to haul my towel and swim gear to the gym. It’ll just be a waste of time.’
Wait. Rewind. Every single one of those thoughts was an excuse. And none of them were even good excuses! Once I started paying attention to my thought process I started to realize that I was actually just afraid of trying something new and looking silly. Okay, so those are manageable fears. Then I started to look at how legitimate they were.
Most of the people at the pool are swimming, not pool running. When I go to the pool to swim, my head’s in the water most of the time. I hardly notice anyone else. Why would anyone even pay attention to or care what I’m doing? Okay, like any new activity I’d probably feel a little ridiculous at first, but it’d be okay to laugh at myself through the learning curve. Maybe it’d even provide some good entertainment for the sleepy lifeguards on the 6am shift. So really, the hardest part would be having the initial courage to put on the belt and slip into the pool. 100% manageable.
So I did it.
I put that silly belt on, slipped into the pool, and away I went…. and I had an awesome workout! That tiny moment of bravery — when I chose to acknowledge and break down my fear — helped turn something new into a regular, beneficial, and surprisingly enjoyable part of my training.
Change is a journey into the unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar can be terrifying! It’s easy to come up with excuses or reasons why we shouldn’t try something new, even if it’s a change we could benefit from.
So here’s a challenge: the next time you catch yourself battling a change or commitment — whether it’s a new workout, a terrifyingly large project, taking a new step in or out of a relationship, or shifting career paths — I challenge you to dig into your rationale, be 100% honest with yourself, and find out if your fears are valid. Whether they are or they aren’t, you’ll gain confidence in your decision.
Acknowledging and then isolating my real, underlying fears is something I’m learning to do in my daily life, and I’d encourage you to try it too! I bet you’ll feel empowered. It’s definitely not always as simple as convincing yourself to strap on a floatation belt, but it’s always rewarding!