Do you ever say to yourself “Oh I’d love to do XXX (that thing you’ve always wanted to do), if only I were braver”?. Well, like the cowardly lion in Wizard of Oz, so much of accessing bravery is about our beliefs. What is a brave choice? For one person it could be selling your home and all possessions to buy a camper van and go travelling. For another it could be going to your first ever pilates class. It’s really easy to talk ourselves out of anything that requires courage. We spoke to mindset coach Jane Galloway, founder of Quiet The Hive about the things that stop us living bravely.

The to-do list
“We can dream of an ideal scenario, like giving up the work we’re sick of to do something more meaningful, or writing and publishing a book, or launching a business we’re really passionate about… But there are so many things that tie us down, like money and family and time and elderly parents who need us. So this often means that the instant we start to speculate about how we might do the brave thing we long to do, the mental to-do list rises up before us, and we think ‘No, I’m far too busy to do anything else’”.

The inner critic
“The inner critic has a lot to answer for. It comes out as fear with thoughts like ‘I’m not xxxx enough [clever, pretty, original etc] to do that’. Or ‘I can’t do xx I’ll look ridiculous’. We feel the excitement at the prospect of giving that daring thing a whirl, but then we put it in a box – because it’s too scary and full of risk to take any further.”

The guilt
“Guilt can be a powerful emotion and it eats away at any thoughts of doing something for ourselves. ‘I can’t do that because I have children/responsibilities/elderly parents who rely on me’ we tell ourselves. We use our role in people’s lives and put it first, prioritising it over ourselves. As women we’re conditioned to believe that if something brings us pleasure it’s not the right thing to do – we should be prioritising other people. Which is just mad, but there it is”.

So how can we fight all these fierce adversaries?

Find your why
“Establish your values by listing the things that matter to you in order of importance. Then you can identify what’s really truly important to you. And if you’re spending too much time doing things that go against your values you need to change tack”.

Think ‘what if…’
“When you’re talking yourself out of what you want to do, think ‘OK, what if…?’ So if things didn’t work out as planned, what would happen next? If you quit your job and started your own business… What if the worst did happen, what then? ‘Well I could get a job, or move house, etc’ you soon reply. Come up with solutions that make the terrifying reasons you can’t do something actually more manageable”.

Have eagle vision…
“…But take mouse steps. If you have the bold, long-distance vision, what are two or three tiny steps that move you closer to it? eg, maybe talking to someone who started their own business. Or researching courses. Tiny things you can do this week that move you towards your ultimate vision. Taking these steps builds your confidence. And according to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy it’s not waiting for the motivation that leads to the behaviour, it’s the behaviour that leads to the motivation to take the next step – and the next”.

Be accountable
“You may have a few naysayers in your orbit, trying to protect you from failure but also probably a bit jealous of your brave moves. That’s when you need a tribe that has your back, that won’t try and talk to you out of your goals but remind you why you need to stick at them. Find some likeminded women and hold each other to account. Don’t just discuss your intentions but commit to a deadline. Let your accountability friends know what you’re going to do, by when and how they can help. And do the same for them”.

Your inner mentor
“We’re all aware of our inner critic, but what about tapping into our inner mentor and listening to what she’s saying? According to Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big, our inner mentor is an older, wiser, more experienced version of us. Tune into her so that when your inner critic pipes up, you have another voice, a voice of reason, to guide you”.

Rejoice and reflect
“When you do something brave and think ‘I can’t believe I’ve done that’, ask yourself what you can learn from the experience. What does it feel like to actually push through the fear? What does achievement feel like? How will you tackle scary challenges next time? And how can you share your experience to help others?”

Listen to your ‘hut’
“How you can you be sure that this brave thing you are doing is the right move for you? It should make you feel terrified but excited. It should move you towards energy and joy and passion (not drudgery and stickiness and difficulty). We listen to our heads a lot, so tap into your ‘hut’ – your heart and your gut”.

Do the flip-flop
“When we start to do something brave and it goes a bit wrong – it turns out to be difficult, or people are negative about it – we get creeping, niggling doubts. But you’ll quickly find something happens that flips you back. In fact doing something brave and unfamiliar means a whole flip-flop journey of emotions. So when brain says ‘this is awful’, don’t panic. You owe it to yourself to give it a good go. You’ve come this far, and the further you get, the further you’ll go”.

Words: Marina Gask

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