The once-in-a-lifetime milestones, the much anticipated life moments, holidays, rendezvous. From the first date, to the interview, to the speech in front of hundreds, the big game, the annual holiday gathering. We often seek guidance and expertise to improve our chances for each of these moments to go well when the truth is, when we focus on how we live each day, there is little need for much preparation for the ‘big’ moments because we have already been preparing and preparing well.
Indeed courage exhibits itself when the firefighter risks their lives for others, a friend stands up to a bully for their buddy or a citizen risks sacrifices for a just cause, but courage also presents itself in how we walk through our daily lives.
When we dare to be courageous each day, we model positive behaviors for civil interaction, we invite and strengthen healthy relationships and we open doors of beautiful possibility for love, enjoyment, pleasure, and success as defined by each of us.
With the pace of my life finding a healthier speed since I consciously stepped fully into a new chapter (writing solely for TSLL) and concluded another (teaching), more ‘white space’ as was discussed in episode #316 is part of my everydays, and as such I witness the priceless gift others create in their own lives when they live courageously through seemingly simple skills and approaches to living and engaging in their everyday interactions which actually foster wonderful benefits for a lovely and loving life full of sincere connection, engagement and understanding.
1.Communicate bravely, kindly, honestly, directly
Effective communication is a skill. Something we choose to understand, to learn, to strengthen. As a communications’ teacher, once I knew the skills, their purpose and how to put into practice, the clarity of what I was trying to say improved, my ability to be heard increased, and my ability to understand what others were saying allowed for healthier, more productive conversations.
As well, when we learn how to communicate well, we can acknowledge how unhealthy engaging passively is as it deteriorates relationships, erodes trust and causes not only ourselves pain, but those we supposedly love pain as well. By choosing to communicate clearly, nonviolently and speaking only of our life experience and emotion, we let go of assumption, we lower the register of defensiveness from those we are speaking with and the potential for both parties to walk away with something they want drastically sky-rockets.
As well, when we only express what the other person wants to hear, we may feel we are protecting them and as well as ourselves as well an uncomfortable conversation, but the truth is, respect evaporates in said situations, and the trust weakens making it harder, if not impossible, to build it back between the two the omission or soft white lie was exchanged.
In episode #293, Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life – Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships inspires the focus of the episode’s topic regarding how to live a life you love. The truth is, speaking lovingly, yet clearly, holding your space, but letting others hold theirs without threat is a skill, and it takes times to learn. Choose to learn and your days, each one, with each interaction will improve.
2. Speak about what you enjoy, not what irritates you
It happens in casual exchanges with colleagues, strangers, neighbors, acquaintances, and even those we are more intimately involved with when we are not secure in the relationship and/or ourselves: We talk about what we didn’t want to happen, what we perceive to be wrong with the situation rather than what we appreciate, what we love, what we are enjoying. Why? Because when we are open and honest about what lights us up, we are choosing to be vulnerable, and there is a chance someone will tease, scoff or ignore what we have to say. If we are not secure in ourselves, this hurts, so we learn to self-protect by not engaging in a healthy or helpful manner.
First of all, I want to connect with people who share a common love or appreciation for something – a gorgeous sunset, amazing food, the gift of being alive and well. To connect with someone about the ills of their day, the ills of the world is a drain of our energy, and over time, if that is our common connection, we weaken rather than strengthen the bond and our love of life.
So yes, be courageous and dare to talk about what ignites your curiosity, what causes you to do a happy dance in the middle of the grocery aisle or work day. Laugh and smile about something good that has happened. People are drawn to that even if it scares them to be vulnerable themselves just as you are exhibiting. You give them a safe space to be happy, genuinely so, without judgment, and that will invite them back to you should you both want a connection.
3. Speak, reach out, connect with others from a settled rather than anxious place
As humans, desiring connection with other humans is natural. Feeling accepted, seen, applauded, appreciated, receiving affection is entirely human and exchanging each of these as David Richo discusses in episode #287 (in his book) are the building blocks of a healthy relationship.
However, if we are reaching out to others from a place of anxiousness – to confirm ‘somebody wants me’, ‘somebody loves me’, etc., we are not strengthening the relationship or even giving it a possibility to exist because we are reaching out from a place of feeling we are already without, doubting unconsciously our self-worth.
The brave, the courageous choice is to instead check yourself and ask, ‘Why am I reaching out?’ Is it from a place of anxiousness and needing to know, to feel love, to receive a response, to feel seen, etc.? Or are you reaching out because you want to connect and while settled in the life you are living, feel drawn to share your thoughts, your time, your space, without clinging to the response you think you need, etc.? When you can be honest with yourself about the answer, then you will know how to act, but arriving at the answer requires you to respond, rather than react and sometimes your response will be to not do anything at all.
~Read this post to explore the difference between Responding vs. Reacting.
4. Refrain from venting
In episode #316, focusing on how to live a life full of vitality, the topic of venting is brought up as the author demonstrates how doing so actually depletes your energy. “Venting can feel great in the moment, but doing so repeatedly without any resolution or forward progress can make you feel worse.”
Venting can be a knee-jerk reaction (remember to refer to the difference between responding versus reacting above in #3). We have seen it modeled, and it actually takes us back up to #2: it is safer to vent than to sing the praising of all that is going well. Why? Because we are not being vulnerable. We are angry, upset, frustrated, confused, and by George, ‘life isn’t fair!’. When we are on the listening end of someone venting, it has been my experience that the energy in the room, in my being, slowly shrinks. I am so busy trying to follow what they are complaining about that I get sucked up into what they are upset about and then I try to point out the reason they shouldn’t that not only is their energy depleted by venting, but I am as well because I have expended energy trying to help calm them down. Needless to say and in full disclosure, I have not always been the listener in a said venting situation, but it was when I was the listener that I finally realized how exhausting I must have been when I did vent, and I became more aware of my default to vent choosing moving forward to refrain.
When we choose to refrain from venting, we are being courageous because we are daring to acknowledge we had expectations of how someone should have acted/behaved/engaged with us, and as we know, as soon as we expect, we set ourselves up for disappointment even if something positive comes out of the event. Sometimes we vent because we are not ready to acknowledge our errors in how the events unfolded as they did. Sometimes we vent because we are scared because we, while recognizing we cannot know the future, wish that we could.
So what to do instead of venting? Be brave and express your hopes. Don’t get me wrong, not your expectations, but your hopes, as you keep your mind open to possibility without clinging to any result. Your hopes will reveal more about the life you wish to live and actually give you more potential to achieve it as those you love will fully see your true wishes. But again, expressing your hopes is scary because you are being vulnerable.
However, if you don’t put out into the world what you wish will materialize, followed by the effort to give it a chance, how can it possibly become your reality?
5. Express your wishes, then let go of the outcome
I spoke about this idea a bit more in the most recent Saturday’s Ponderings . . . , and the truth is, it is scary to express your hopes, your wishes, your desires, but true courage resides in the opening of your hand and letting go of the wish you have put out into the world. Everyone else, the entire world, is moving to their own rhythm and timing and tune, just as you are; however, in order to be invited to play along, you have to share your melody with the world. You have to partake. You don’t know what the song will be, but you certainly won’t be part of a composition that ignites you if you do not show up to to share your music.
Living courageously need not be a gesture the local or national newspapers write about when you act. No, the courage you embody in your everyday actions – how you communicate, what you share, what you dare to hope for – is what will change your life and make it extraordinary. Choose to be brave. Exercise your courage and let the universe surprise and delight you. Your life will never be the same again, and the beauty, love and moments to savor will surpass even your most far-reaching dreams.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
How to Live a Courageous Life, episode #31
36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253