Feeling Courageous When You Can’t Even

The Bible doesn’t say “Be strong and courageous when you feel like it.” Sometimes I wish it did! But that would allow us to rely on our own strength which we all know is less than reliable. Instead, we’re called to rely on God’s strength which never fails and never taps out. This is even more difficult on days where we just don’t feel ourselves. Inevitably, there will be a day when we wake up tired, sick, or feeling like the cards are stacked against us. So how do we muster courage on those days? What are some ways we can push ourselves to be courageous to face the day when all we want to do is shrivel up and go back to bed?

1. Set Yourself Up for Success

The first thing you can do every morning is get up and dress the part. Even if you don’t feel courageous or prepared for the day, wake up at the same time anyway. Make the bed to keep yourself from crawling back in it. Get dressed in an outfit that makes you feel powerful. I had a client several years back who reserved a specific shade of lipstick which she called “the armor of God.” She reserved this lipstick for those especially difficult days when she needed a visual reminder to put on the armor of God and rely on His strength that day. Whatever makes you feel bold or powerful, make it part of your morning routine, and watch how quickly your attitude towards the day will shift.

2. Fake it in Faith

A study was done several years ago that showed that if you stand in a powerful position with your feet shoulder-width apart, your hands on your hips, and your head held high, you can actually trick your brain into feeling more powerful and brave. Whether you buy in to the study or not, the idea is very helpful. Sometimes you won’t feel bold or courageous until you start believing God can make you courageous if you faithfully play the part.

3. Pray...Harder

To rely on God’s strength, we need to be faithful and ask for it. This should be a daily occurrence, but some days, you’ll just need to stop from time to time, go to your knees in prayer, and beg God to bring strength when you have none. He is faithful and will always equip you to complete the call He has given you each day, so ask in faith knowing He will respond.

4. Give yourself an incentive

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a little reward or incentive to keep yourself going. If you struggle with social anxiety and know you have a day full of conferences or presentations, plan a quiet hike in the afternoon where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the quiet time you are craving. If you are an exhausted mother unsure whether you can manage carpool or toddler tantrums for one more day, plan a long bubble-bath or order a new book to look forward to as a reward for whatever chaos the day throws your way.

5. Remember the Long-Game

It’s easy to slip into the here-and-now mentality, but as Christians, we’ve been called to live every day in light of eternity. Think to yourself, in 10,000 years is this lousy day even going to be a blip on my radar? The answer is no. Will the faithful act of being courageous when God calls me to be matter? Yes it will. So don’t fall into the trap of believing that the struggle you are facing today has no expiration date. Keeping a long-term perspective will help keep the fears and doubts of today in their rightful place.

To encourage you, I’d like to leave you with a Bible verse to consider as you rest this weekend to face another week. Lamentations 3:22-23 says that God’s love never ceases and that His mercies are new every morning. That means that while we sleep each night, He makes a new deposit of strength and mercy to face whatever the day ahead of us has in store. If we believe that He has equipped us for anything in our path, the most courageous thing we can do is start walking.

Here are some questions to consider as you begin your weekend:

  1. Do you believe God has equipped you to face your day today?
  2. What is God calling you to today that you are tempted to shy away from?
  3. What incentive would motivate you to live courageously today?
  4. What makes you feel more powerful even if you feel your weakest?

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Approach Fear Like a Diet

While many fears do require the help of a professional due to trauma or an anxiety disorder, many fears can be conquered with a plan and a little determination. Approach your fear the way you would approach a diet with these three, simple steps

Have you ever started a diet where you had lofty goals to lose three pants sizes in a week, only to look at the scales a week later and find you were a couple pounds heavier? Maybe dieting isn’t your thing, but instead you tried to train for your first half-marathon and found yourself on the couch in your running shoes gorging on a bag of potato chips instead.

Lofty goals can lead to pride or defeat--pride because if you succeed in accomplishing that seemingly impossible goal, you will have bragging rights for life. Defeat, however, is the more common of these two outcomes, because staring at a mountain and having no concrete or realistic plan can knock the wind out of your sails before you even begin.

I had a client a few years back who had a fear of spiders. She hated them, but could usually manage her fear enough to remove herself from an uncomfortable situation if she needed to. Her roommate decided this fear was irrational so she took a pretty radical approach to help her get past this fear. She released her pet tarantula into my client’s room and locked the door behind her. This of course traumatized my patient, and what began as a fear of spiders quickly developed into a full-blown phobia. Had the client been able to take baby-steps toward conquering her fear in her own time, she may have found the opportunity to move past this fear on her own. Unfortunately, due to her roommate’s rip-the-bandaid-off-quickly approach, she required profession counseling to help manage her fear.

While many fears do require the help of a professional due to trauma or anxiety, many fears can be conquered with a plan and a little determination. Approach your fear the way you would approach a diet with these three, simple steps:

  1. Make a Plan

Fear, much like a diet or any other goal, has to be approached in baby steps. Sure, you want to set goals for yourself, but if you have no concrete, achievable  goals to set your eyes on, you’ll get distracted, overwhelmed, and will likely give up. Just as a doctor would rarely encourage a patient to give up all sweets in a single day, I would rarely recommend jumping out of an airplane as your first step towards conquering a fear of heights. Instead, set measurable, achievable goals, and get started.

2) Find Your Person

Just as it would be helpful to have a friend or family member hold you accountable during a diet, finding someone you trust can make all the difference in the world as you face your fear. Getting over your fear requires transparency, so think of a single person you trust to gently but firmly come alongside you to help you achieve your goals.

3) Celebrate the Victories

It’s important to celebrate the small victories along the way to increase your stamina and keep you motivated. Conquering a fear is not easy, so treat yourself from time to time! Just as you might reward yourself for making it through a week without sugar with a victory cookie, think of something you can use to motivate yourself towards your goal.

Think of a fear that may have some control over you or may be keeping you from doing something really exciting. Today could be the first day towards conquering that fear! Take the first step now by answering these three questions:

  1. What fear do you think it is time to conquer?
  2. What are the first three baby steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal?
  3. Who do you trust to walk alongside you as you face this fear? Name one person.

    If you would like to learn more about our services or what we can do to help you overcome any fears or anxieties you might be facing, contact us and set-up a time to talk. Our experienced therapists and counselors are more than happy to talk with you and help you decide what your next steps need to be. If you'd like to join our mailing list to receive free counseling resources just like this straight to your inbox, type your email below! And don't forget to share with a friend.