Marianne Williamson said, “Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.”
If you believe this as much as I do, then you can also agree with the implications that come from it:
That we’re able to see things in ourselves.
That we can make decisions based on what we see.
That we can know what could be as a result of those decisions.
This is all great and true except for one thing. Sometimes, “producing ourselves” feels scary – it ain’t no walk in the park, if I’m to say it with my Texas accent.
Producing ourselves can sometimes give us thoughts like:
“What right do I have to_____________?”
“How can I ever ______________?”
“My _____________ will never look like her ______________.”
“I feel like I’ll never ______________.”
Brene Brown, one of my other favorite authors calls these types of thoughts gremlins. In her book, Daring Greatly, she outlines the importance of paying attention to our own self-talk as being one of the central ways to unravel shame in our own heads.
However, that process isn’t easy to do alone.
If you’re anything like me, you can be very very confident or courageous in one or a few areas or about a few decisions, but in one particular area, you consistently feel like a failure. Am I right?
The reason for that is the obvious – that we’re human, and likely never going to do confidence perfectly, just like we won’t do love, vulnerability, yoga poses, or the perfect meal right every time either.
Instead, I think a path of surety, through discovery, that’s cultivated and made excellent for one area of our life can inform the weaker ones, so that the pursuit is for a balanced, known confidence; not a perfect one.
Interestingly, some of the most popular thoughts that will show up for you and me are not what anyone would consider ‘typical’, which is why they often go unaddressed or ignored.
As your life & work unravels, your courage and confidence might wane at times. One of the most prominent ways to stay out of self-loathing when you don’t “feel” confident or courageous however, is understanding the anatomy of the confidence struggle, so that when it shows up, you’re not surprised by what you feel.
Hopefully today, I can shed some light on what we often act like isn’t there for us, so that we can transform it. What we ignore or resist will persist and grow, even. Wisdom never dwells in the dark, so let’s bring the things to light that we’ll find in those darker crevices of our mind as courageous women doing this personal, internal work called ‘trying to be confident about our life’ – it’s the only way to transform it and make it our power.
1. Self-Doubt + Courage
Are you surprised to see this first on the list? It’s a given that it exists for us, yet feels counter-intuitive to “5 things you’ll find in the courageous woman’s mind”. But my favorite author, Steven Pressfield in his book, The War of Art, calls self-doubt nothing more than a “form of resistance”. He says this…
Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do. If you find yourself asking yourself (or your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are, you are.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
The Modernity woman is very comfortable with paradox, so I know you’ll follow me – all this concept leads us to understanding within ourselves even more is paradox. That yes, we can be self-confident, but almost NEVER without also being doubtful, if we’re being authentic in our expression of whatever it is. We can have both self-doubt and self-confidence simultaneously.
So when you feel that self-doubt creep up, thank it for showing up. It’s informing you of what you truly desire and are being led toward. Let it be an ally instead of an enemy in your life & work’s discovery process. Don’t resist it – ask what it’s trying to show you that you perhaps aren’t seeing.
Can I share something with you?
I still feel really anxious at times when I post things on social media. I don’t always feel confident behind the camera when shooting for my style blog. I still get concerned about who the heck is going to point out a misspelled word on my blog when I push the publish button.
You and I have to start seeing the self-doubt we feel as indicators and stop assigning so much negative power to it that completely drains us of our worth and fortitude. Our self-doubt is like gas in the vehicle – let it fuel you to go further.
2. Creativity + Courage
I’ve noticed something, but maybe this isn’t your experience.
When I’m feeling especially uplifted or on my game, I get a wild sense of increased creativity in those times. My output of projects and work is much, much higher. My focus is more sharp. My hustle is on point.
It’s my belief this is because the courageous mind is open – it isn’t form or structure-addicted, and it naturally thinks a bit differently – outside the box, if you will.
But there’s something deeper happening.
When a heightened sense of creativity exists, it’s been proven via research that the reason is because it lives at the epicenter of self-acceptance and one’s knowledge that “they’re enough.”
In other words, when we have become mostly comfortable in our skin, something happens cognitively, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The by-product is an increase in self-confidence and thus, an openness and vulnerability to create, create, create. The cycle begins.
The more we create, the more confident we feel, then the more open we feel, and the more we continue to create.
Creativity lives with courage. Sometimes there are arguments, but they tend to love one another & get along just fine.
3. Fear + Courage
Confession. I still get nervous and fearful sometimes when doing or going on big trips on my own. As fiercely independent (and I do mean VERY independent) as I am, I still have those gut-sinking notions when I do things like schedule a big trip for myself or even press the publish button on this site.
A few minutes ago, I just booked my flight to Los Angeles for Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions, and even just booking that thing made me nervous. I don’t know why I still do that – I’d like to get to where travel is a normal thing for me, but I digress.
Whether it’s a trip being scheduled, writing a blog post, starting a business, or stepping out and speaking up when no one else will, fear is likely to be involved if courage also exists.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown is clear that if you and I are going to “step into the arena”, fear will be there. Stepping into the arena being a metaphor for showing up and being seen in the world – whether we’re supported or not.
That stepping into the arena takes courage, though.
Here’s some masks fear hides behind that may make this hit more home for you:
- Shame – the fear of not being worthy of real connection
- Perfectionism – the fear of shame, judgment, and blame
- Numbing – the fear of feeling what’s reality
These are just a few examples, and they’re definitely deep.
A lot of what we experience on a daily basis is rooted in fear, and we don’t realize it. We’re only conscious to the level of what we see most of the time (i.e. the above bolded words), but not to what lies beneath it (the subconscious driver behind it – deep-seated fear.
So as it relates to courage and doing what you desire to do in this life in any shape or form, fear is what I’m asking you to notice if it’s showing up – even if it’s hiding behind one of the named masks.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be sure that that enterprise is important to us & to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.
The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will take him into unchartered waters and compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.
Is he scared? Hell, yes. He’s petrified.
(Conversely the professional turns down roles that he’s done before. He’s not afraid of them anymore. Why waste his time?)
So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good thing. It shows you what you have to do.
–Steven Pressfield in The War of Art
4. Strategy + Courage
I’m sure you’re probably surprised to see this word in this list, right?
Strategy? What in the world does that have to do with courage?
Well, kind of everything. Here’s what I mean…
Think about a time you got ready to make a courageous decision or leap regarding something in your life. What’s the first thing we tend to do as humans and you likely probably did as well?
You guessed it – we weigh our options.
“Okay, I’m doing this. If ___________, then ______________.” “But if ________, then I’ll have to be prepared to ____________.”
When courage exists for someone, I know they’ve likely weighed their options of the pros & cons of what could potentially come from their decision. If the decision or circumstance goes positively, there’s likely a path of things you want to happen & occur to feel like it was a courageous thing that you did.
All of that cognition is an act of strategy, albeit as formal as it may seem; it’s how our brains work!
Courageous people tend to be great strategists, because they know their own limitations, have evaluated pros & cons of those limitations, and see beyond what others see for both outcomes. They’re also often visionaries, as a result.
5. Connection + Courage
I witnessed connection & courage’s link to each other first-hand just today.
I had to go back to my nail salon (I had just been there the night before), because I realized how much I disliked the color she had put on my nails. It was really what she wanted, and not what I wanted, which almost never happens with me. I’m not one to compromise what I want in any scenario easily or without full analysis.
Because I like her so much, I went with it.
This morning, I was back in there getting it changed to what I wanted.
While we were finishing up, she began talking to me about a fight that had happened that morning between the owner of the salon & her. She had done something to accommodate a customer’s wants, and she was reprimanded for it.
As she began sharing this with me sitting at the station, I felt a sense of connection come over the conversation. I realized there was mutual respect, trust, and a relationship between us. She was vulnerably sharing her situation with me in that moment, and the more I nodded and empathized – “I’ve been there…..yep, I know the feeling……oh yeah, I get it” – the more she told me.
Empathy begets empathy – remember this post?
The more she expressed herself through the lens of this upsetting situation, the more I empathized.
She was engaging in an act of courage in that moment. I’ve been getting my nails done by her for over a year (and ONLY her), so it was a moment where she courageously stepped out to take the relationship to the next level.
What happened next was even more connection that had never happened before.
She ran my card for the visit, and wrote her phone number down on the receipt, so that if I wanted to continue getting my nails done by her, I could follow her wherever she goes.
What a moment of courage. What a moment of connection. I appreciated that she trusted me enough to share, respected me enough to allow me to follow her to another salon as a customer, and courageous enough to put her story out there for me to give her space to tell it.
You see, the courageous woman isn’t perfect – she’s just someone who has a lot going on in her mind. And when she decides to engage in a courageous act, her mind gives her many more opportunities to engage with and feel her purpose, her expression, and her confidence.
That woman is you. That woman is me. Treat her like you would a friend and give her space to experience the beautiful mind of the courageous woman.
Words by Tamisha Ford | Photography by Emma Tempest for l’express styles, March 2016