The other day, I had to do a Hard Thing. It doesn’t even matter what the hard thing was. That is not the point here.
Okay fine, I’ll tell you. I had to stand up in front of a room full of people and tell them stuff. (You could call this “giving a speech,” but that would feel overwhelming all over again, so let’s go with “tell them stuff.” I can tell people stuff all day long.)
Would I forget all the words I wanted to say? Would I forget all words, period? Would they all get up and leave halfway through? Also, would they like my necklace?
These were the things that worried me.
I don’t have to do that every day, but every day has hard things: having the uncomfortable conversation, telling your kiddo no when she really wants a yes, excusing yourself from that gathering you did not even want to be invited to in the first place, sharing the things you care about with the people in your life.
Even the easy things are hard, some days.
You know why they’re hard? They’re hard because you’re learning to listen to what you need, and having needs is inconvenient.
I need alone time, when agreeing to meet for coffee would be more convenient (for the other person).
I need for my choices on the outside to match up with what I believe on the inside, when going with the flow would be more convenient (for everyone else).
I need to expand, when someone else expects me to stay small. Disappointing people is super inconvenient (for everyone).
But as we learn to listen to what we need, we learn to listen for what others need, too. Having compassion for yourself teaches you to have compassion for everyone. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and.
All of which makes me think we need to practice being brave and doing the hard things. So where do we find that everyday courage?
1. Remember your why
Why are you doing this hard thing? Why does it matter to you?
Maybe you’re doing it because you’ll find more peace when it’s done.
Maybe you’re doing it because you know you’ll feel more like yourself on the other side.
Maybe you’re doing it to serve someone you love.
Maybe you’re doing it because you believe in doing this kind of thing.
Whatever your reason, knowing your why makes it easier to stick with the hard things.
2. Turn your “what if” around
Hard things are scary, but we make them scarier with our creative thinking-ahead skills. I am being generous with my use of the word “creative” here.
There’s a chorus in our heads that sounds like: What if she takes this the wrong way? What if they don’t understand? What if I let people down? What if I fail?
Instead of letting yourself spin out into the What-if Spiral of Doom, turn it around. You don’t know what’s going to happen, so why not imagine the best?
What if everything works? What if this turns out really well? What if we’re going to be okay no matter what?
The second list is just as possible as the first one, and it feels a whole lot better.
3. Move from “me” to “you”
When you’re worried about how other people will react, your brain goes into self-protection mode. It starts asking: Will I be okay?
That fear has an “off” switch, though. Instead of worrying about being judged, you just turn your thoughts toward how you can help. In other words, instead of waiting to see if you measure up, start letting everyone else know that they don’t have to.
Instead of wondering what they’ll think of my speech, I can focus on how to make the people listening feel seen and served. Instead of waiting to see if anyone comes up to talk to me, I can look for someone to draw into conversation. It works every time.
4. Do it scared
Sometimes the only way through is… through. If this hard thing is something you need to do, make a commitment to yourself that you’ll show up scared and do it anyway. Sometimes that’s all it takes: feeling the fear and taking the first step anyway.
Now I need your help, friends. Where do you find everyday bravery?
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Gosh, I love and needed this! Thanks Melissa. <3
I’m so glad! Thanks, Amy. <3
All great reminders, Melissa. Usually with public speaking type work – or even with teaching or client work – I remind myself who I choose to be before beginning and decide to just enjoy myself or show up curious. In this way, i hold the outcome more loosely (ex. will I do it perfectly, will you like me?) and enjoy the process. One of the hardest ways for me to practice everyday bravery is in remembering that I get to decide what I want my life to look and feel like. I see others doing work I want to do… but faster than me or “better” than me and I remind myself that I’m choosing a slow life (maybe they are too but our abilities or life stages or definitions vary). I have to continually remind myself to keep my eyes on my own paper and just do me:)
I have worked hard on #3. For so long I let my ego get in the way of offering people true value. I realize that my purpose is not to please or impress but to serve, and that is my focus now. The worries still come to mind, but I move forward with my heart.
I love this, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. <3