Leaping takes courage. Guts. Though I’m not quite sure how that idiom came to be; the word courage has to do with the heart. Contrary to popular belief, and even the definition in some sources, it doesn’t mean you are doing something without fear, it means you are doing something despite fear.
Fear serves a purpose: it alerts us to danger. But it can also run rampant, way past the point of usefulness. In order to Leap effectively you’ll need to build up your courage and put fear in it’s place. A lot of that comes with old-fashioned practice, but here are some other strategies:
- Know Your Heart – When it comes to making tough decisions and acting on them, it’s a huge help to be crystal clear about what you want and why. Know your priorities and values. Having that foundation means that when you have to make a decision, you have a point of reference. You aren’t struggling with your motivations; they are a known factor. Then you just have to weigh them with the practicalities and act accordingly. It’s much nicer to get clear on these things before the crisis or decision comes up, rather than in the heat of the moment. (Though life doesn’t always work that way.) Introspection is your friend! Knowing yourself means you have what’s needed to act with authenticity. Use your Listening practices to listen to your own heart.
- Find a Courage Mentor – Years ago, even before this recent Leap was a vague feeling of impending change, my dear friend Jen was taking Leaps of her own. I know Jen through my women’s spirituality discussion group: she’s a radiant, hilarious Buddhist and occupational therapist. She travelled to Nepal and hiked in the Himalayas. And she upped and moved from Michigan to Oregon because the Redwood Trees were calling her. She was a huge inspiration to me, and continues to be both inspiration and support. I learned a lot from her adventurous spirit and her willingness to follow her dreams, despite all the risks. Find your Jen. If you don’t happen upon him or her in your usual circles, actively look. Reach out to someone you admire and see if you can have a cup of tea and a chat about adventures and leaps of faith.
- Mantras Matter – Sometimes in order to interrupt the fear and anxiety hamster wheel you have to give it something else to mull over. During my time with Unitarian Universalism I was introduced to the amazing poetry of Mary Oliver. A quote from “The Summer Day” really struck home with me, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I taped it to my computer monitor at my old job. It’s in my email and forum signatures. It reminds me that I am wild and precious, I have only one life, and planning only goes so far, you have to act! It brings me back to what is really important to me. In learning to be in real relationship with others, the mantra that came out of my Brene Brown course was, “Authenticity Over Comfort.” Doing what’s comfortable (like avoiding conflict) can lead to resentment in the long term. Best to be uncomfortable in the short term than to let resentment fester. Finding a powerful quote or stringing together some meaningful words can be very helpful to bring you back to your truth when things get frazzled.
The magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Make your peace with being uncomfortable. Compile your toolbox of ways to tame fear and use them often. I promise, in the long run it’s worth it!