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7 Effective Ways To Boost Your Courage

7 Effective Ways To Boost Your Courage
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In general, we experience two types of fear: the fear that indicates we’re in physical danger (for example, when we’re standing in the middle of a busy road), and the fear that indicates our ego is in danger (e.g. fear of public speaking).

In modern society, there are very few situations in which we are in physical danger, so most of the fear we feel has more to do with threats to our ego and self-concept than threats that could cause us physical harm. However, these two types of fear feel very similar, and provoke the same primal fight or flight response in our body.

Boosting our courage isn’t about eradicating our fear; it’s such a primal, instinctive response that this isn’t a realistic goal. Instead, it’s about learning how to respond to our fear in a healthy way. Here are seven effective ways you can start boosting your courage today:

1. Remind yourself that fear isn’t always helpful.

Fear is helpful in situations where we have control and can take steps to minimize the risk of our disaster scenario coming true. For example, if we’re still standing in the middle of that busy road I mentioned above, fear is a good indicator to start moving. Equally, if we’re facing an upcoming public speaking gig, our fear might indicate that we need a little more practice.

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In some situations, however, fear can do more harm than good. If we respond to every fear-inducing situation like we’re in mortal danger, we’re going to end up missing out on valuable opportunities to live fully and enjoy growth and new experiences. A helpful, courage-boosting question to ask yourself when deciding how to respond to a situation is: “Am I avoiding pain, or seeking growth?

2. Expand your comfort zone gradually.

Boosting your courage isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a day-by-day process and you’re more likely to experience success in this area if you focus on expanding your comfort zone one step at a time.

For example, if you notice that you feel fear around talking to new people, start small by asking someone for directions or striking up a short conversation with people you encounter in your day-to-day life but are unlikely to see again (shop assistants, checkout staff, people waiting in line, and so on). Once you feel more comfortable doing that, start working your way up to longer conversations with people you are likely to see infrequently (new work colleagues, friends of friends), then people you’re likely to see on a regular basis, and so on.

3. Remember to breathe.

Our physical state has a huge impact on our emotional state. Try slouching over and drooping your mouth into a frown for 10 seconds, then sitting up straight with a dazzling smile for another 10—did you notice a difference in how you felt?

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If we want to boost our courage in a particular situation, one of the most effective ways of doing this is to slow down our breathing. When we’re feeling fearful, our breathing unconsciously becomes faster and shallower. Taking a few deep breaths sends the signal to our minds that everything is OK and helps us relax.

4. Take a step back and get objective.

Usually, the fear we feel isn’t so much about the worst case scenario we’re thinking of—it’s about how we would feel if that scenario comes to pass.

Using the public speaking example, let’s imagine the worst case scenario is that you forget what you wanted to say. Even if the audience ended up booing you off the stage, all that would happen on a factual level afterwards is that you go home and learn from the experience for next time. How you feel, on the other hand, might include embarrassed, ashamed, hopeless, and a host of other uncomfortable feelings. The next time you’re faced with a public speaking opportunity, it will be the feelings you remember and fear more than what actually happened.

To boost your courage, try to stay objective and focus on the facts of the matter. Pay attention to what actually happened, rather than the meaning you’re attaching to it.

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5. Think of how you’d view a friend in the same situation.

One of the biggest challenges to our courage is the fact that we tend to be harsher with ourselves than we are with other people.

The next time you’re faced with an opportunity to expand your comfort zone, ask yourself how you would perceive your best friend in the same situation. Would you focus on the potential pitfalls, or would you admire them for taking the risk?

Thinking about how we’d view other people in the same situation can help reset any stories we’re telling ourselves and engender more self-trust and courage.

6. Ask, “Who do I need to become?” instead of, “What do I need to do?”

When it comes to stretching our comfort zone and committing acts of courage, we often focus on what we need to do. The real shift that needs to take place, however, revolves around who we need to become.

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For example, if you decided you wanted to get active and train for a triathlon by the end of the year, information that will tell you what to do to get there is readily available. What will decide whether or not you have the courage to actually go out and do it, however, is thinking about who you need to become in order to be someone who does that.

What qualities would a courageous future version of yourself have? How would they start each day? What new habits would they develop? What old habits would they change?

7. Take action.

When we’re feeling low on courage, it’s tempting to sit and think about how we’re going to find the motivation we’re looking for, to read articles online (present company excepted, of course), talk about it—anything but actually do the thing we’re afraid of doing.

If you’re waiting to feel more courageous before taking action, you’re going to be waiting a long time. In reality, the longer you wait before taking action, the less courageous you’ll feel. The only thing that will help you feel more courageous is taking action, stepping outside your comfort zone, and sending yourself the message that you are a courageous person.

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What are your tips to boost courage? Leave a comment and let us know.

Featured photo credit: venspired via flickr.com

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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