Over the past few months I have been challenged with decisions and opportunities that have brought up vulnerability and fear in this process. I have had to dig deep into my vulnerability with fear and being “enough”. When I was a teenager my parents gave me a plaque that read, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Fast
forward 20 years later and my daughter has the same quote sitting on her desk. This quote has stuck with me over the years and continues to be a reminder for me that I cannot be afraid of failure or mistakes. My parents always encouraged new experiences and placed importance on “getting out of your comfort zone”. It was a lesson that I was not going to see the true value in until I was older. I found small successes when I took risks, traveled, sought out adventure… As time passed, my courage to get out of my comfort zone grew. And with each act of courage came a growth in confidence and self-awareness.
I would be lying if I did not say it was extremely difficult to practice this each day. I imagine a bell curve and think when I was younger the stakes were pretty minimal. I thought I was invincible – as all teenagers do. Now in my 40s and towards the top of that bell curve the stakes are higher. I have more to risk, more to lose. Here I am a therapist who aims to encourage, inspire, motivate, and support my clients (friends and family too!) but why is it so difficult to practice when it comes to getting out of my own comfort zone? Every time I sense impending change or challenges (which by the way, is quite often), I ask myself the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I ask this to my clients when they are struggling with decisions. If someone told you this would work out, would you do it, would you engage without fear? Typically, the answer is, yes. Everything we want is on the other side of fear. It is the uncertainty that creates vulnerability that can paralyze us and keep us from striving for the opportunities and goals we want in our lives. And the number one way to conquer vulnerability is to have courage in the face of it. Vulnerability is fear, it is uncertainty, it is change. I believe in the power of courage. I teach the power of courage. But when it comes to practicing courage I am the first to be compassionate at how difficult it is.
During times of vulnerability it is critical for me to get moving. I typically do this through running or yoga, which allows me to connect my mind and body together. It allows me to move through energy and thoughts that no longer serve me. I am able to re-center myself. This time also creates the positive and encouraging thoughts that provide the courage to face whatever it is I am fearing and let go of the need for certainty.
This quote by Nelson Mandela sums it up for me: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” The goal is to not experience fear or failure. The goal is to overcome it. The goal is to be resilient in the face of fear or failure. We rarely learn and grow when things go perfectly. We learn when we fall, when we take risks and we learn when we have the courage to get back up and keep going.
*As we all know, sunrise is my favorite time of day. The stillness and coolness of the morning air is invigorating.