Let’s take a look!
Courage to move forward in the face of our fear makes us fearless. I like to think of it fearlessness differently than how it has been defined (lacking fear). For me, it is walking toward my goals while feeling my fears; as I move closer with each step, I feel my fear — less. Feeling less fear than the step before and far less than my first step encourages further action. Each step forward, I am steadily increasing my courage and self-confidence. This why we’re exploring this idea; it is an integral part of building your confidence.
For example, when I returned to school after spending many years raising my daughters, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. I was an older student in college. How would teachers and peers receive me? How could I study at home with young children? What will happen when I am invited to events, and I have to say no? Will my extended family understand what I am up to? How would I go to school, take care of my daughters, and earn income? Fear.
I was afraid, but I took the next step each day until I got to my first goal.
Getting to class was a mini-goal. I remember patting myself on the back or doing a happy dance (in my mind, of course) when I got on the train on my way to class at 6:00 AM. I wondered if I would be consistent. Could I go every day, on time, and do well in class? Fear.
There were cold, cold, frosty mornings when I didn’t want to get out of bed — you know those frigid mornings that you look outside and see people bundled up so tight you’re surprised they could breathe. These were days I wanted to get back in bed. But I would turn on my tune, one of my favorite songs during that time, “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, to get me going. It worked!
I had multiple situations that occurred at the beginning of my educational journey, for the third time, that might’ve made me turn back or stop. Small and large.
I remember one day, I was on my way home from school, I swiped my metro card (a commuter pass I just put money on), and it showed insufficient funds. Anxiety took over me. How the hell was I going to get home with no other cash? I remembered I had been accumulating change every time I broke a bill. So yeah, I had enough to get me home—swiped forehead.
While earning my master’s degree in public administration, my grand-daughter died (my step-daughter’s daughter), which was difficult for my entire family. During which time, I was suffering from sciatica and could barely walk a block without stopping. But I kept going. I received my master’s degree because I kept going.
In turn, each time I accomplished one of my goals, my confidence grew.
Your turn: take a moment to think back on a time when you were scared to do something, but you gathered up your courage and did it anyway.
Maybe it was walking away from a bad situation. Perhaps it was working through a problem that seemed impossible at first glance. Maybe it was overcoming a fear of yours, facing it, and coming through ok at the other side. Maybe it was overcoming a big physical or mental challenge like running your first 10K race or acing a big exam. It doesn’t matter what it was, as long as you think of something that took courage to do.
Think about how you felt after you did whatever that courageous thing or act was. It felt pretty amazing, didn’t it?
Maybe you were a bit exhausted from the effort or relieved that you did make it through to the other side. Mostly though, that adrenaline started pumping through your system, and you felt incredibly proud of what you’d accomplished. That, in turn, made you feel elated and good about yourself and your ability to do other courageous things.
In other words, you gave yourself a big boost of self-confidence. That right there is one of the connections between self-confidence and courage.
You can boost your confidence and feeling of self-worth by getting into the habit of doing courageous things. Establishing that habit is something you’ll be working as you read on. There’s also a second connection. Once you’ve gotten that boost of self-confidence, you start to feel more courageous, and then you are ready to tackle the next hard thing on your list.
In other words, self-confidence and courage can work in either a self-propelling cycle or spiral. Do something courageous, and your self-confidence increases.
As your confidence goes up, it will be easier to do something courageous. And on and on, it spirals. This is an important concept to grasp, and it’s something that you can use to your advantage. What it means is that by simply getting in the habit of doing something that scares you or that seems hard at first glance and having the courage to give it a try anyway, you can put this self-propelling spiral of increased self-confidence into motion.
From there on out, every little thing you do that’s either courageous or increases your confidence in yourself will make it easier to keep going and keep improving on both counts. The only hard part is getting started, and frankly, that isn’t all that hard or scary, is it? What can you do today that takes a little courage?