Finding My Courage.

Courage is a big topic for me. I’ve struggled with being courageous and still find myself battling it from time to time. Suppose you read my previous blog about balance. In that case, you know it’s easy to talk about doing things for yourself, but doing it, well, that’s a different story. I grew up in a society where I saw fear as a weakness and an inhibitor to achieving my goals. This mindset made it difficult to understand what courage truly was. For the longest time, I tried to move through life unafraid. I continually berated myself because I felt afraid and weak. This feeling of fear drove me to build such a high resistance to fear that I disregarded my true feelings. And truth be told, that disregard never really made me feel all that brave either. Being unafraid and being courageous are two completely different things. I never truly worked on being courageous until two years ago when I realized that courage was acknowledging fear and acting despite its presence. So, here’s my 5 cents. It’s my way of looking at the world, and if it resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. It’s your 5 cents now, so do with it what you may. My goal is to give you a different perspective, my perspective, on being courageous.

For the longest time, I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t afraid when I couldn’t help the fact that I was. And believe me, when I say, it was a long and arduous internal battle. I remember wasting countless hours trying to negate my fears. I would think of all possible contingencies for any adverse outcome, and this was exhausting. Sometimes, I even convinced myself that what I wanted was no longer feasible because I couldn’t eradicate fear. I focused so much time and effort on not being afraid that I never realized I should have been focusing on being courageous. For me, courage is a choice I need to make consistently. That consistency breeds confidence, and that confidence breeds trust. Courage is my ability to trust in myself and act even when I’m afraid. My courage doesn’t negate my fears; it embraces them.

So, how courageous am I now? Much more than I was yesterday. And yet, I’m still a scaredy-cat. It all began with changing my mindset. The shift in my perspective was understanding that fear was never a hindrance. Fear kept me sharp; it highlighted my insecurities and exposed areas in my life where I needed to pay more attention. The most impactful shift, however, was my understanding of courage. The knowledge that courage is a decision to act when fear is present. I realized this would take a lot of practice. I remember when I would say, “as soon as I deal with this fear, I’ll act.” and of course, I would never act because the fear would never go away. I had to be intentional about this change. I needed to place markers in my life that let me know that I was on the right track. For example, I made my desires known to family and friends and asked them to hold me accountable. I intentionally presented myself with micro-decisions of small consequence, but were linked to a more significant macro decision and still required courage to make. Before I knew it, the more significant decisions were becoming more comfortable making and acting on because I was already acting on them in small ways.

I have a great personal example. I was married once. I got married because I thought society expected it of me, and I felt it would help me on my journey towards a fulfilling life. Marriage was also a way for me to play it safe. The fear of losing someone I loved?! What better way to ensure they stick around than to marry them. Well, that did not work. We divorced, and all my fears surfaced with a suffocating vengeance. The marriage ended, and the hurt, embarrassment, inadequacy, and rejection plagued my psyche. So what did I do?! Initially, I tried to convince myself that I was stronger than I was. I was a big, strong, ambitious man who wouldn’t let anyone see him weak and vulnerable. I ignored my true feelings, and I toughened up. I entered new relationships but never allowed anyone else to get close to me. I subconsciously, but intentionally, sabotaged relationships so that I couldn’t get hurt. I had the mentality of “no fear” and willfully avoided emotional intimacy to protect myself. To not be perceived as weak, I chose not to open up to my friends and family for support. This decision was one of the worst decisions of my life, all because I focused on not being afraid.

I eventually realized that I was no closer to getting anything I truly wanted. I wanted loving and secure relationships. I wanted the support of my friends and family. I didn’t want to feel alone. I want to love deeply and be loved deeply. I just didn’t have the courage at the time. I can’t control what makes me afraid, be it the fear of loss, the fear of being hurt, or the fear of being vulnerable. But I can manage my courage. I started with small steps, making decisions in small capacities toward bigger goals. Now, I find the courage to love and love deeply despite the fear of being hurt or rejected. I find the courage to trust those deserving of my trust and be vulnerable despite the fear of embarrassment and judgment.

Most importantly, however, I found the courage to trust in myself. I take hard looks at who I am, and I make intentional decisions that lead me to live my best life. And deciding to focus on my courage has been one of the best and most rewarding decisions of my life.

Fitness and nutrition are lifestyle changes, and sometimes change can be scary. The fear of failing, making mistakes, and never feeling good enough has held many of us back. And although there is no quick fix, finding the courage to start your journey to better health will be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make. I wish you good health, happiness, and fulfillment! From your mindset to your lifestyle to your nutrition, find your courage, and act.

And remember, to live your best life, health and fitness is never one size fits all. You must find what works for you, and I’m here to help you if you want.

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