“Courage to change the things I can……..”
Nelson Mandela nailed it:
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
Fear sucks. Like, alot. Courage and fear work hand in hand, though. I already had a whole slew of issues that unnerved or even downright terrified me before all this global pandemic stuff and if that wasn’t a big enough list, now we have a few more.
Previous to Covid-19 there were the usual concerns:
How do I stretch my money to last until the next payday?
What if someone doesn't like me?
What happens if i keep drinking and can never quit?
How do I lose this weight and keep it off?
Will I ever have a good healthy relationship?
Can I stay sober?
Now, including the health scares and death toll number counts, we have:
Is my job safe?
How can I keep providing for my family? Are they safe?
How long will this last?
Can I go to the store?
When can I hug my family?
Will my family stay healthy and safe?
I’m telling you right now this frantic thinking is unnerving. At its worst you get the heart pounding, sweating, a wicked case of tunnel-vision and perhaps you want to do either cry or hide or both. I personally bounce between talking (and swearing so badly I make myself blush) or not saying a single word because the words simply won't form. Zero comprehensive thoughts happening up there. Oh, and I think I have to puke now.
So what do we do? What can we do?
You take a breath and a step back. So many of us want to be viewed as strong and brave with all the answers. In doing so we try to take care of everything around us. Sometimes to the point of excessively controlling behaviour. (Yes someone may have actually seen this in me too. Go figure). We think we will be happy if we have a hand in making people see and understand us - what we want. What we think. Letting go of that and just have life happen is frightening. Losing control is unnerving when it has become part of us.
Society negates the weak. Weak people are frowned upon and bullied and that is the stuff of nightmares - especially growing up. But wanna know something really cool? It actually makes you stronger getting through some of the toughest times of our lives then to come to realize you can let some things go. Let go of control and ego.
We do not have to do it all and to realize this, well, it's damn empowering!
When you let yourself embrace that all you can do is understand and take care of your own self, thoughts and actions, a whole new world opens up. It's freeing and feels like you are walking in the clouds (now I understand that old saying a bit better). This in turn can allow us to positively focus on ourselves and you are on the road to being the best version of yourself. This is where courage plays a part. Daring to let go and do only what you can.
Let's have a look at a personal example: I felt I needed to treat myself even better after I got sober. You know, direct that sobriety energy and all the calories i consumed while tipping back a few cool ones, somewhere productive. So got off my tush and began exercising. Walking, initially, but soon felt I needed more, so increased my efforts and joined the gym.
Just going to the store to get something to wear to the gym was frightening enough (I cried so much before this shopping visit) let alone wearing the new duds into the gym. Trying not to make eye contact with anyone, I shot over to the cardio section. God, please don't let me run into anybody I know! Hmmm, maybe i should just go. Maybe i don't need to be here. Who am I to do all this? And what if they see me cry?
My face feels hot and I am so embarrassed. I don't actually have to start pedaling to break out into a messy sweat. What's the problem? All I can think of is people looking at me thinking: “Look at her. Who does she think she is? And what is she really trying to prove, anyway?” God that tape in my head sucks. And this lump in my throat is gonna explode. Just make it 10 more minutes. Just 10 more freaking minutes and i can collapse when I am in my car.
Here's a kicker: I made it through a workout that day. And the next day. And the day after that. Yes I thought I needed to prove something and validation but in reality, I needed a reality check. With counselling, personal development, sobriety, and soul searching I came to understand something:
Others’ thoughts are none of my business!
Others’ actions, most of the time, don't actually have to concern me. At least the nasty negative ones. Not as much as I thought. All I can do is what I feel is right and take care of my health. And my thoughts and emotions. Words that come out of my mouth are my responsibility. I cannot change anyone or anything except myself. Then put one of MY feet forward. One at a time.
Courage isn’t always instantaneous; you may not even notice you are acting bravely until much later. You probably won't be beating your chest in victory immediately after some act of valor. It can be itty bitty baby steps a lot of the time.
The speed at which we get a vaccine for this nasty pandemic bug is out of our control. In the same way we control only ourselves, we change how we deal with isolation and quarantine. Can you control other people's actions? No. How about their thoughts? Again, Hell no! It is exhausting anyway, isn't it? Just do your due diligence. You can even divert your attention to other facets of your life and stop the excessive social media scrolling and pick up a hobby or a book or get active. Or be still and quiet. Have that heart to heart with someone. Help someone. Learn about people who have dared to let shit go and start some personal development. Do you miss your people? You can pick up the phone and dial ‘em up!
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
You actually do not have to have it all figured out to boldly move forward. You have choices and will sometimes need to determine what is worth your attention or not, what is in your control or not. Do what ya gotta do - pause, pray, chant, dance to Shakira in your living room, do a hand stand if you must - then get off that rickety old fence that is leaving a dent in your butt and just do something. Or nothing, depending.
Confused yet? When you determine what deserves your attention and can make a change somewhere somehow, just grab it by the coconuts and go for it!
It may or may not be uncomfortable sometimes and you will feel all kinds of feels (anxious, sick, excited, meh, etc) until after whatever needs to be done or said is actually done or said. This is how we learn and grow. This is how you build courage. And a bit more peace.