Written November 7, 2015 and updated May 9, 2018:
As I was watching/recording my four-year old girl go out and perform her best in the 25 yard freestyle and backstroke and attempt a relay for the first time ever, I thought to myself, her courage knows no boundaries. She is SO brave. How can I be as brave as her?
If you know me, you'll know that I'm deathly fearful of deep water. If I can't touch the bottom of the pool, I panic, get anxious, and start drowning (literally). (I'm sure it's related to my first swim lessons ever in my life, 7th grade swim class, where they threw me in the deep pool, expected me to swim, and pass the swim test (I failed by the way)...yeah works for some people but not others...as a result, I have symptoms of PTSD).
I have some basic swimming skills but as soon as I realize that the water is getting deep, my mind goes into panic-mode and my body shut all basic knowledge of swimming down. Some of you may not relate to this but could relate to this feeling occurring before or during a job interview, major test, trying to court a beautiful girl, presentation in front of a class, etc.
So how could I be as brave as my little girl or you be as courageous?
There are many techniques and the one I want to share with you is called "centering". Centering is getting present in the moment, allowing distractions to subside, aligning your mind, body, spirit and entering into a state of relaxation, calm, and clarity. It allows a person to really listen to what is going on in themselves and others. There are many ways to get to being centered; take a brief walk, listening to soft music, looking out in your backyard, deep breathing, coaching, yoga, meditation, etc. When you are centered, you gain control of you, your attention, your thoughts, and your focus. You can direct how you want to act or react in any situation and courage is part of how you can act or react to a situation. You cannot get to courage if you allow yourself to be in fear. However, you can be centered, feel fear and still act courageously.
Let me give you another example: I am going up for a speech and all I feel is fear. I am giving into fear. I will not do well in my speech because my mind and body is full of fear. However, if I am centered (calm, collected, and present), I can feel fear but have courage to give an amazing speech because I am not in fear, fear is just one of the feelings.
Out of all the methods to get centered, deep breathing is my go to for everything especially gaining courage.
You can start exercising centering through deep breathing particularly focusing on your breathing. As you inhale, consciously picture inhaling peace, joy, courage and confidence. As you exhale, consciously picture blowing out all the anxiety, fear, self-defeating, sabotaging thoughts and tension in your body out with every breath. I recommend breathing in and out for every feeling you feel so if you have anxiety, fear, right arm tension and left arm tension, that would be four deep breaths. While it would be pretty silly for me to attempt this deep breathing when I'm literally drowning (in my previous example on fear of drowning), I can use this breathing technique to train my mind to be more centered and focused so that the next time I get into the pool, I can be more comfortable in deep water.
There are many techniques that a coach is able to take you through to find your courage again (or anything else) so if you're struggling with finding the courage to do something, get a coach! We were all born into this world butt-naked with courage and yes our environment, experiences, people, situations might have broken this innate courage down but you owe it to yourself to take what is rightfully yours back.
Leave this world just as courageous as when you entered it! - Yengyee
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