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  • Writer's picturekristen lessig schenerlein

Fear, Courage, and Bravery

Mindful. Empowered. Growth.

"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." ~Nelson Mandela

I had the pleasure of enjoying time these past few weeks vacationing in the small coastal fishing town where I grew up. We stayed a short walk away from one of the simplest, yet most impactful, spots of my childhood. I was able to reconnect and share these memories with my children, even reliving them in a sense.

Most young children spend their summers traveling with family or enjoying meeting new friends and having new experiences at summer camp. I did not do much of either ( I did not even really understand what summer camp was until I was in about sheltered, huh?!). We did however spend a lot of time at the beach, my "happy place". Simple boat rides and long family beach days followed by cheerios for dinner after a refreshing shower to wash off the salt water on our sun kissed faces were the BEST of summer days.

One summer program I did attend however was SWIM lessons ( mainly for safety sake all kids in the area took this through the local community center). These were not your traditional swim lessons. At 4-5 years of age, these lessons did not take place in a community swimming pool but, at DuBois Beach, at the tip of the Stonington Borough in Connecticut. Here, not only did you have to overcome your fear of the cold water but you had to wade through slimy seaweed and navigate the rocks under your feat, in between the stone breakwaters that created this sacred spot. And then there was the floating dock. This was the end goal, the final destination, your ability to "pass" was determined by your ability to swim out to this dock independently by the end of the week. Boy did it seem so much further away at that age than as I sat and watched my 12 year old daughter swim out to it ( granted the water was only 62 degrees)!

I share this because for me, this was the first of many instances where I had to face my own personal fears and move through them courageously to achieve a goal. This small but mighty act of bravery, at the time, helped me build confidence in knowing that YES, it was hard and YES, here were unknowns ( fish, sharks, and who knows what else, lol) but, I was completely capable. That feeling of setting your sights on a destination, a goal, and then in this case, looking back the whole 50 yards to the beach is such a satisfying feeling.

Today the challenges ahead of me may be a bit "weightier" in significance however, I can still attest to the fact that the same sense of satisfaction is obtained each and every time I move THROUGH to the other side. There are still "yucky" parts I must wade through and most certainly unknowns as to what I will encounter along the way, but each and every time, I feel my confidence build. Trusting in my own inner strength has been my greatest super power in life. When there was chaos or uncertainty around me, I have always trusted that I would make it. I would come through to the "other side" just a little bit more confident and ready to take on whatever challenge life brought my way.

What are you most fearful of in your life right now? What is something you dream of doing but fear and negative thoughts are impacting your ability to move forward and take that important first step?

Consider these steps to FACE YOUR FEARS and step forward courageously towards the future you desire:

  1. Identify. Name it and acknowledge your fears, the negative thoughts or feelings and label them.

  2. Perspective. Consider how moving through this fear, embracing bravery can lead to great benefits for you in the future.

  3. Empathize. Employ positive self talk. How can it motivate you?

  4. Explore. Gather all the information you need to move forward courageously.

  5. Innovate. Connect with your creativity, joy, and excitement to PULL you through!

  6. Navigate. Seek guidance from your elder, wiser self. Of healthy mind and body, what would he/she say is most important to consider.

  7. Activate. Move into action, calm, clear headed, and laser focused.

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