Do you ever wonder how some people seem so comfortable trying new things? Or how others are always down for exciting adventures, while the mere idea of changing up your morning routine gets your heart racing?
Though it might seem like some people are just born brave, you don’t have to be in order to live a life characterized by growth and adventure.
Courage is a skill that can be learned. In fact, all of us have it inside of us, but not all of us have learned to tap into it yet.
By making some key changes to your mindset and trading out old beliefs, you can learn how to be brave and live a live full of purpose and growth.
What Does It Mean to Have Courage?
Courage doesn’t mean donning a superhero cape or bungee jumping off a bridge. It also doesn’t mean that you’re never afraid of anything.
Having courage means facing your fears (even if you’re trembling all the way) for the sake of growth. Being brave will always lead to growth, because you’ll have expanded your boundaries and enriched your life with new experiences.
But, as with many things, being brave might be easier said than done. It takes some serious inner work to make brave decisions and live courageously.
Learning How to Be Brave
By practicing the 6 steps below, you’ll be on your way to a bolder life led by courage instead of fear.
1. Know Your Values
When times get scary, you’ll need something to cling to—a strong foundation that will support you through even the most difficult decisions.
Having a set of values that you can stand by no matter what can actually make hard decisions quite simple. Knowing what you’re willing to sacrifice (and what you’re not) helps to put everything in perspective.
If trust is one of your core values, try viewing a dilemma through the lens of trust. Do you trust the people involved in a certain situation? Do you trust yourself?
If your answer is no, then you either need to decide against that decision, or make changes in your life that will allow you to trust again.
It might not always feel easy to stand by your values—and that’s when you’ll need to summon all of your courage to stand in your truth and honor your values, even when you’re faced by temptation or opposition from others.
2. Learn to Embrace Fear
When we talk about fear, it’s often in the context of something that needs to be overcome. Perhaps you want to “overcome” your fear of spiders, public speaking, or heights.
But actually, one of the first steps toward a more courageous life is understanding that fear is not something you need to get rid of or eliminate completely. You don’t have to be fearless to be brave.
Instead, acknowledge your fears, embrace them, and learn how to overcome your responses to them. For example, an invitation to a big party makes you want to lock the door and dive under your sheets for a Netflix marathon, change your response by pushing yourself to go anyway and meet new people.
Simply changing your response and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a big act of courage. It doesn’t mean that you have to feel comfortable or actually want to go, but at least you tried, and that’s what will lead you to immense personal growth.
3. Set Intentions
Intentions are the thoughts that lend direction to your actions. If you want to be more brave in certain areas of your life, then you need to intentionally channel bravery into your everyday actions.
What do you want in life? To be more bold? More outgoing? More fit?
Whatever your intention, find ways to channel that energy in all areas of your life. If you want to live more boldly, say yes to that exciting new opportunity that came up at work.
If you want to get fit, be intentional about maintaining a consistent workout schedule and buying healthier foods at the grocery store.
Let your values determine your intentions, and let your intentions guide your actions.
If you’re offered a promotion at work but you’re scared you might not have what it takes, challenge yourself to be brave and accept the offer. Obviously someone thinks you’re more than capable—it’s just your own insecurities and fears that are holding you back.
Don’t miss the little opportunities to grow and practice living by your intentions.
4. Be Kind
Unconditional kindness requires courage. As you probably know well, it’s not always easy to be kind or assume the best about people.
This is perhaps never more true than when we’re talking about ourselves. Learning to be kind to yourself and accept yourself also requires courage, and it’s the first step required before you can show others unconditional kindness.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be content with your present circumstances or stop seeking growth; it simply means that you know your worth and treat yourself with the same compassion that you treat others.
When you make mistakes or fall short of a goal, forgive yourself, then pick yourself up and try again.
Then, practice unconditional kindness toward others by assuming the best intentions. This might mean exercising greater patience, or offering a genuine smile to a cranky stranger.
You’ll likely be surprised how your kindness can impact others and totally change their moods. They may even end up supporting you in your intentions!
5. Trust Your Intuition
Sometimes, it might feel risky to “trust your gut,” but don’t underestimate the power of your intuition.
Your intuition is your inner knowledge, those “hunches” that you might get when something doesn’t feel right (perhaps about a person), or when you need to get out of a certain place or situation.
But it’s important that you trust your intuition when it comes to positive feelings, too—because most likely, it knows just what you need.
Author Franziska Iseli recommends in her book The Courage Map that when you’re faced with difficult or important decisions, you turn to your journal for insight.
Get in the habit of reflecting on your own thoughts and inner feelings before asking what your friends or family think you should do.
Even if what your gut tells you doesn’t feel 100% logical, tuning into your intuition can help you make brave decisions and ultimately take you where you need to go.
6. Go with the Flow
We all know that a lot of times, things just don’t go our way.
Try as we might to plan, organize, and orchestrate our lives, we simply can’t control everything.
Learning to accept what’s out of your control and just go with flow. As a result, you’ll grow more adaptable, and being able to change direction when necessary will instill even more bravery in your heart.
With time, going with the flow will become easier, and adapting to changes that once seemed intimidating won’t be so scary anymore.
Create Your Courage Map
Want to create your own road map to courage?
In her new book The Courage Map, entrepreneur and adventurer Franziska Iseli shares 13 principles for living a bold life.
During a motorbike journey around the world, Iseli spent a lot of time reflecting on what makes a bold life, and how each of us can unlock our inner courage and live the lives we’ve always dreamed of.
While your personal journey may not involve a ride through Uzbekistan, this book will help you define the life you truly want and set up a road map for getting there by systematically expanding your courage boundaries.
What’s one way that you’ve practiced courage lately? Share your story in the comments below!