Being brave is now said to be more a skill than innate, a cognitive muscle we learn to flex more and more. Courage has become another hot topic that experts, such as researcher Brene Brown, our encouraging us to embrace. I definitely believe being brave allows us to make many desires come true, however there are times when the benefits do not outweigh the costs.
There are times where mustering up courage is obvious. Then there are experiences where we might not even realize that bravery can guide us in overcoming stress. Major life experiences that warrant us to armor up include things like: a marital commitment, pregnancy/labor, raising a child, buying our own house, moving out of our parents house, public speaking, etc. In these situations its self-evident that it is time to step up.
In considering times where bravery as a savior is more elusive, its important to think wisely. Take for example, anxiety related to making a tough decision. Sometimes the “what if’s” pile up and the self-doubt seems to find a way to rationalize the negative outcomes even when really not probable. Being brave flashes code red, maybe for very good reason – maybe not. If it doesn’t go the way you’re hoping, of course disappointment will occur, however more importantly are psychological or physical ramifications. This is where a pros and cons list is essential.
If for example, indecisiveness is bringing butterflies into your stomach, you naturally would want to run away from the problem. We all feel these types of physical sensations but for some of us they linger on for hours, days, or even longer even if we escape for a bit. A pros and cons list including genetic influences and your regular stress level can help you determine if being brave or taking a pass is the answer. Let’s look at the example of giving a presentation to a group of colleagues.
My ideas can make a great contribution to our work.
If I demonstrate my assets than I will be closer to that promotion.
I’ll feel proud for facing this challenge.
My ideas might not be well received.
I’ll have knots in my stomach.
I’ll have to deal with nervous thoughts.
These thoughts are normal and common, however if you are a person prone to anxiety then the Cons list might haunt you. Nervousness may take residence up in your mind and be very difficult to kick out! Your sleep could begin to get interrupted and butterflies in your stomach keep returning.
If this is true for you then seriously consider whether or not its worth it to try to break down this fear. Its okay if the reward is something you are willing to work very hard to get. There are various scientifically supported strategies to support you, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You can explore them in more detail in my book, B.O.L.D: The Freedom Formula for Health & Happiness where I model them through my personal story. Additionally, there are questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to try out.
Bravery can be an asset for us to achieve goals, big or small. Taking your personal circumstances into account is critical and will help you decide what is best. If you are confident that you can manage the challenge at hand with a tolerable interruption to your mental and physical state, then go for it and turn the crappy into happy!