(this is Step three of Showing Up For Your Life, see the whole series here)
When you realize your life isn’t what you want it to be you find yourself in a place where you are ready to take responsibility for it, or you will keep looking for ways to avoid the responsibility.
After feeling like my marriage, my motherhood, myself, my health were all beyond my ability to cope with- my eyes were opened to the ways I had been so complacent, and acted like I was the victim of it all. I hadn’t taken responsibility for it in the past and I was ready to now.
My eyes were opened to the things I needed more of in my life.
A tender heart to my husband. [Related: When they tell me I’m lucky to have him]
Gratitude upon gratitude for the things I had and loved but became ambivalent to. [Related: The not -enough mindset]
Nourishing and moving my body. [Related: Running makes me cry]
Pushing myself out of my comfort zone. [Related: Getting comfortable with discomfort aka how to live your actual life]
Now came the hard part. The exhausting part. The part that actually would move the needle towards where I WANT TO GO.
Being brave with my one precious life.
LIFE WITHOUT BRAVERY
When we live without being brave we will almost always feel that tension that our life is not what we want it – what we know is possible and ideal but then we look at what we are actually doing in real-time.
This tension is called Cognitive Dissonance. It is the space between what my ideal self does and what my real self does.
My ideal self wants to be patient and fun with my kids // My real self is frustrated and nagging and mentally checking out by 4 pm.
I feel the tension of not being the mom I want to be.
My ideal self works out each day // My real self did some yoga once this week, and then ate ketchup chips and cheese each night.
I feel the shame of not taking care of my body how I know is best.
My ideal self wants to have a passionate and exciting marriage // My real self is sending passive-aggressive texts to my husband about eating all the taquitos and then letting the frustrations of my day affect how I interact with him when he gets home.
I feel the crust of pride hardening a heart that I want to be softer to the man I love
Life without bravery means we are living with a constant discomfort. It is a low hum of shame/frustration/resentment that we aren’t SHOWING UP FOR OUR LIFE in the way our heart truly longs to. (Which is to say, we aren’t living in line with our values).
How we handle this discomfort can go one of two ways.
One we turn to our STRESS RESPONSES: numb it out, resist it, stress about it.
Or, two we GET BRAVE and make a plan and do the work!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BRAVE
I feel like we can gloss over this word with a modern filter that is shiny and sassy and very instagrammable. #bebravebeyou
But bravery starts out a bit quieter than a lion roaring. It starts out a bit messier than smiling on a beach. It starts a bit less glamorous than social media tells us, so we can forget the hard and necessary steps to get there.
Because in my experience, bravery required less of ‘ME’ and all the ways I had been showing up – and compensating for what I didn’t want to deal with. After all, me ‘being me’ got me into this mess in the first place.
Bravery has a lot more grit than we might give it credit for.
I have come to view bravery as the consistent forward motion in doing what is right, against resistance.
What is right?
Doing things that are in line with what we truly desire and value (don’t know your values? Use this free worksheet to find them).
What is right is doing things in a way that we are showing up in ways we are proud of towards the direction we know is right.
What is resistance?
It is the resistance meet in our own bodies, our minds, our hearts, our communities, our homes.
But we feel it most internally. Resistance is that fearful voice in your head that starts shouting the second you commit to the work.
Shouting all the reasons we SHOULDN’T do something different and uncomfortable. It is a voice of doubt, fatigue, discomfort, distrust, fear, pride.
What is consistent forward motion?
Baby steps, one small thing you can do today that your future self will thank you for.
Big steps, three leaps forward that move the needle in your life.
Both matter, both are required. But focus on baby steps, don’t underestimate the power small consistent things building up over time. (Related: Your Future Self (at 8:45 on this episode))
WHAT DOES IT REQUIRE OF US (AKA WHY IS IT HARD)
But this is hard! Of course, it is! I life coach women all the time through this issue. This is often what brings women to me, living with this tension and discomfort about how they are showing up for their lives.
I don’t just give them affirmations and tell them ‘be brave!’
After all, that didn’t work for me. And doesn’t work for a lot of people. Because affirmations can sometimes feel fake and if we are ‘faking it ‘til we make it’ do we really ever ‘make it’?
In order to tap into our own ability to be motivated and take action, we need more than an affirmation.
We need to help our hearts and minds use new tools that allow them to show up and constantly move forward in the right direction despite the resistance.
Here are companions you need on the journey of becoming braver every day:
(I really wanted to make a catchy acronym for this, but got hung up on the consonants, if you see a potential one here please let me know!)
Why do people tell us to set out a plan, a vision for what we want?
Because it keeps us from being busy for the sake of being busy. It keeps us from being ambivalent or reluctant or confusing productivity with purpose. [Related: Productivity needs a purpose]
You can’t just be brave for the sake of it. It needs to move you to where you want to be going. Otherwise, it is just busywork more than a heart and life change.
Don’t know where you want to go in life? Try the free LIVE YOUR VISION worksheets:
There is no light way to say this: If you do it half-assed you will get half-assed results.
To be brave you need to be willing to show up on your own accord.
You need to get your own ride to the party, and show up with your homemade cheese dip, and say hi to someone new, and stay late to help with the clean up.
You need to own it and be committed to it.
It is so intimidating to say out loud who you are and what you want.
I struggled with it over the years as I started blogging, I kept it a secret. And when I wrote the workbook, I still felt like downplaying it. And when I added life coaching to my work, I still tiptoed around it.
All of this underwhelmed the impact I truly desired and the belief I had in myself.
Don’t sit on the sidelines of your life. Likewise, don’t sit on the sidelines of other’s lives and convince yourself that it counts as being brave with YOUR OWN life.
CHALLENGE THE AUTOPILOT (AKA DO THE OPPOSITE)
When I first learned about ‘intentional living’ I realized that I was faced with the hard work of undoing and redirecting all my autopilot ways.
I would tell myself this mantra ‘do the opposite’.
My first instinct/thought/reaction is the autopilot one that got me here. Following through on these reactions and thoughts will not move me and grow me into a braver way of living.
So, I often try to do the opposite.
To say YES instead of NO (especially with my kids),
to listen instead of defending (especially in my marriage),
to wait instead of leave (especially in social settings),
to go here instead of there (physically and emotionally),
to trust instead of doubt (especially in friendships),
to persist instead of quit (especially in my work)
I know when we are new moms it is easy to stay at home and snuggled up with a baby. In my case, I turned to the online space for community support.
Eventually, though, I needed real people in real life to be my supports. I was feeling alone because I kept myself alone.
I had to show up in real life places and make real-life relationships. This is always a brave move, letting people in (with all their junk and weird ways of showing up) and you showing up for other people (with all your junk and weird ways of showing up).
Our culture tells us to be a lone wolf, and be strong, and make it happen. But in my experiences of letting people in for the journey and in helping them with theirs – getting a community is a brave move that grows you and supports you in a variety of ways. Because community gives you accountability, guidance and rest. They also challenge you, call you out, they draw you in, they push you, and they cheer you on.
And if you have been living without it, it is big time brave to invite that in.
And if you have been over-reliant on support, then it is big-time brave to offer it more than receive it.
When we think about ‘being brave’ we know there will be this hard part that will be gritty and messy.
I think that the messy part is the part where we have humility.
I don’t mean the type of humility where you put others before yourself – because I think that can sometimes have a false nobility to it.
I mean the type of humility where you are honest at the expense of your ego. It is where you put the truth before yourself (your ego) and all the ways you protect it.
It is being humble in listening to the criticism and asking yourself ‘is it true?’
In coming to a loved one and saying ‘I’ve been wrong’
In being honest with yourself about your own motives and actions.
If we are brave, we need to show up with truth – and we need humility to keep uncovering what is true.
I’ll say it again and again: It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you show up.
So often we think we are entitled to our anger or frustration that we start to steamroll the situation with our big negative reactions.
We GET to do things in our lives but then we find something to stress about and we stop showing up well, we lose our integrity (and cognitive dissonance kicks in).
Like, I get to go on a family trip with my kids. Camping across the province, eating ice cream, drinking coffee, husband on vacation. What a gift to get to do a road trip with your kids! Except when it is also a form of torture and I turn into a steaming pile of resent and stress.
Having integrity means that I still show up as the mom and wife I want to be even when are in the actual hot sun waiting for the sani dump line up, the kids are running barefoot all over the e.coli parking lot, I’m hangry and all out of stupid gluten-free crackers, and me and my husband are fighting about where to camp for the night.
I still get to decide HOW I SHOW UP (and yeah, I don’t always do it so well). (Related: Mindful in Marriage)
Do you know what is brave? Kindness, empathy, compassion.
These are antidotes to some very ‘unbrave’ mindsets: shame, guilt, resent, judgement.
These sentiments keep us stuck even if they feel like they are some necessary or useful motivators (spoiler, they are neither).
Compassion for where you are instead of shaming yourself for where you aren’t. Let yourself be a human!
Compassion for others and who they are, where they are at instead of resentment for what they aren’t giving you, or judgement of their differences. Let people be different!
I group these together because they all speak to the bigger picture. To be brave it needs to be empowered and motivated by something bigger than avoiding the pain of our present life.
We need to have HOPE that things will be worth it. What do you hope in?
We need to have FAITH that there is something more here that covers all our missteps and shortcomings. What do you believe in?
And we need to TRUST that we can take the next step without knowing the entire path. What do you trust in?
Being brave will bring you face to face with answering these questions.
They say we need three things for change:
To be ready (you are done with the way things are),
to be able (you need to see the next step you can take),
and to be willing (you desire it and you see the benefit to it).
To be brave YOU MUST BE WILLING to do the work, make the first step, say it out loud.
And I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by this list of all the things that bravery will call out in your. I want you to just be willing to TAKE THE NEXT STEP
What is one simple way you can be brave today?
Apologize to your husband for what you said when you were hangry?
Say hi to another mom who you see often?
Wear your favourite lipstick? (there was a time in my life where this was my brave step for the day!)
Let down your guard and ask for help?
MOST OF ALL, remember this. Showing up for your life isn’t something you can rush or perfect. It is a journey that slowly shifts your heart and your mind. It takes time, like a river carving a new path through the rocks.
So be gracious and brave with your one precious life!
If this is something you would like life coaching on – check out my life coaching 4-session program.