|The beginning of new things can be scary. It’s risky. What if I fail? What if I look like an idiot? What if I humiliate myself? |
Starting new things requires courage, especially when those new things might expose our tender, tentative, hiding hearts.
That’s actually good news— the part about courage, not the part about exposing our tender hearts.
Because courage is something that can be learned.
I used to think courage was something you were either born with or not. But now I know that’s not true. Courage is a skill, and like other skills, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
How do you learn courage?In theory, learning courage is easy. You must be willing to show up over and over and keep making mistakes.
The difficult part is that we humans hate making mistakes. We hate being exposed. We hate feeling like a failure. We hate feeling embarrassed or humiliated. We hate everything about making mistakes.
And yet, making mistakes is the only way for us to learn new skills or experience any kind of personal growth.
How do babies learn to walk? Do they just stand up one day and start cruising around the house? No. (Even though it may seem like that to many new parents.)
Babies fall down when they are learning to walk. They fall a lot. They fall in every direction. They land on their butts. They land on their face. Sometimes they bounce. Other times, they skid, or roll, or flop.
In other words… they make ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF MISTAKES.
Babies would never learn to walk if they weren’t willing— eager, in fact— to make all of those mistakes.
. . .Quick story… last year I enrolled in an apprentice program for a particular fitness certification. One of the requirements for certification was that by the end of four months, I would be able to do a cartwheel.
Eek! Seriously? A cartwheel? This isn't the circus. Are you kidding me?
Just so you know, I had never done a cartwheel in my life.
I was a chubby tomboy kid, embarrassed by my body, and so when all the girls were cartwheeling around like prima donnas, I pretended to NOT be interested. Though I was secretly jealous of any girl who could do a cartwheel.
I was just too afraid to give it try.
Until last year.
Now, if you think trying to learn a cartwheel at the age of 50 is NOT a scary thing… let me tell you… I had to seriously stretch my comfort zone on this one.
After 4 months of training, I can’t say that my cartwheel was pretty, but it worked. And compared to where I had started, I felt like I had flown to the moon and back!
I am ok with a less-than-perfect cartwheel.
But something even better than my awkward adult cartwheel happened during this process…
I learned how to practice making mistakes.
Once I realized (after the first 50-or-so incredibly embarrassing attempts) that the only way to get better at this particular skill was to keep making mistakes, everything changed for me.
As soon as I figured out that the goal of every attempt was to give it a go and see what mistakes show up, rather than giving it a go and trying to be perfect, I freed myself up from anxiety and my inner critic voices, and was able learn and grow from the experience.
Every time I attempted a cartwheel, I tried to just see it as an experience— without judging it— neither bad nor good. How did it feel? What could I do differently? When I tried that, this happened. What would happen if I tried this instead?
For the duration of the program, I purposely practiced making cartwheel mistakes. I didn’t practice doing perfect cartwheels. My goal was to do as many “bad” cartwheels as I could. Because I knew that over time, the more mistakes I made, the better my cartwheel would become.
. . .By now I hope you’ve figured out that my cartwheel experience is a metaphor for your weight loss journey. (Don’t worry, there are no cartwheel requirements inside of More Heart.)
Making improvements in our lives— whether it be with our diet, the ways we move our bodies, our relationships, our habits, our mindset, or whatever— all personal growth requires three things:
If you can do those three things, you can learn, do, or become anything you desire.
- The willingness to try something new.
- The willingness to practice making mistakes.
- The willingness to be 100% non-judgmental of your mistakes.
This is how courage is learned.