Are you waiting until you feel more confident to try something new or move toward a goal? If you wait for courage to rise from inaction, you will be waiting awhile. It is by moving through your fear and daring yourself to act even though you are anxious, that confidence grows.
By its very definition, courage is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” So the only way to grow courageous confidence is to go through the fear. Basically to prove it to yourself that you will survive and get to the other side of fear to find confidence waiting for you.
Perceived vs Real Fear
Everyone experiences fear and anxiety. Sometimes fear is protective. If a tornado touches down in your town, then fear motivates you to quickly move to a safe place. Fear is protective when there is a real danger or threat.
On the other hand, fear that is based on assumptions and perceptions is not as helpful. Some examples of perceived fears would be worrying about rejection, conflict, disapproval, or loss. We are so good at imagining what we worry about that we start to feel as if there is a real danger. In this way, focusing on perceived fears (or anxiety) makes it very hard to enjoy the moment or your life more.
Managing Perceived Fear, Anxiety, and Worry
Since we can’t eliminate all fear and anxiety, we need to find ways to manage it. And one of those ways is to learn to tolerate the fear that is blocking your way to more fully enjoying your life or pursuing the work or relationships you desire.
My favorite movies are about people who overcome obstacles to reach their goals. And sometimes the obstacles are inside of us. In the movie “Coyote Ugly”, the main character Violet assumes that she will have stage fright when she performs her songs in front of an audience. Her fear is one of the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching her goal of becoming a songwriter.
By the end of the movie, Violet finds a way to face her fears, so she can get her songs heard. She performs her songs in front of an audience, even though she is still anxious and afraid. By moving through the fear, she dares it and proves to herself that it isn’t emotionally threatening to perform her songs in front of an audience.
Moving Through Fear to Grow Confidence
Courage isn’t as natural as running away or avoiding what you fear. But you can persist and learn to tolerate what you fear so that you can grow confidence through your action.
Imagine something you fear. How are you managing your anxiety? Think about one step you can take to move closer to facing your fear. If you feel stuck, keep reading to see how others face their fears.
Step 1: Invite New Learning
In Coyote Ugly, Violet practices her songs alone, in the dark, and in front of a small audience. Violet soon learns that she is assuming she’d have stage fright just like her mom. And, she later finds out that her mom was a great performer, but wanted to be home with her family. Like Violet, you can put so much energy into your fears that they seem real.
You may attempt, fall, and refocus many times. It’s not the falling down that is the problem, it’s how you get back up, persist and try again. Through persistence and practice, you will learn if you tune into the wisdom it brings with it. Keep an eye to your successes as well as when you fall short of reaching your goals.
Step 2: Accept or Find Support
For Violet, her “family” believes in her but has a hard time letting her move to a new city. Once she is alone in New York, Violet meets Kevin, who challenges her to try things outside of her comfort zone. He encourages her to persist toward her dreams even though it is hard trying new things.
Of course, it helps to have the support of someone who believes in you, but I don’t think you can borrow someone ‘s courage. Instead, a coach helps you stay focused and find your own inner courage. Evaluate whether or not you already have the support you need or if it’s time to hire a trusted coach.
Step 3: Lean into Challenges
Whether you hire a coach or learn on your own, you may encounter people who don’t believe in you. Enduring when others think you can handle your anxiety. You don’t need to prove to these people that you can handle your stuff, just keep moving forward.
Violet encounters a boss who doesn’t think she should keep reaching for her dreams. Although she nearly gets sidetracked, she keeps moving forward even when it seems almost impossible that anyone will listen to her songs. It is natural to want to flee when you are uncomfortable. Learning that you can tolerate some discomfort is part of the journey to improving your confidence or reaching your goals.
Step 4: Notice Confidence Growing
The more you face your fears and endure some discomfort, the more you will begin to believe in yourself. Since you can’t borrow self-confidence, you watch it grow. Before you know it, you will be acting courageously to reach your goals in life, love, or work.
Violet eventually finds the courage to sing her songs to a big audience, and soon her songs are sung by a famous musician. She keeps her new love and friends, yet she no longer lets her fears stand in her way of becoming a songwriter.
What fears stand In your way of pursuing your dreams or enjoying each day more fully? Share what helps you face your fears and dare your anxiety to shrink.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC offers anxiety counseling services for adults and teens in Independence MO (and serving surrounding Blue Springs, Grain Valley, and Lee’s Summit area). Counseling can help with the learning to discern and dare anxiety instead of believing the lies it tells you. Schedule free 15-minute phone consult with me and take a step toward enjoying your life more fully.
Photo Credit: Guiseppe Bognanni