Monday, August 17, 2015

The Bounce Back Guide for People Ready to Throw in the Towel

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition such as lifting weights we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.
~Stephen R. Covey~

Every day millions of people are faced with disappointments, heartache and adversity. They say things like, “This is just too much for me to handle.”
“What’s the use, nothing I do seems to work?”
“My life will never be the same.”
“Why do I keep getting the short end of the stick?”
“It’s taking me forever to get my life back on track.”

My friend, life is a smorgasbord of experiences. Some of them we love and some of them, not so much. When we experience disappointments, obstacles and setbacks the ‘word in our heart’ plays a crucial role in our ability to bounce back from adverse circumstances. The ‘word in our heart’ is a reflection of the beliefs, assumptions, and emotional interpretations we attribute to the meaning of an experience.  

In his book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman Ph.D. writes, “Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you become, or how energized when you encounter the everyday setbacks as well as momentous defeats…your explanatory style reflects the ‘word in your heart’.” When you choose to look at a challenging situation from an empowering perspective, this perspective increases the likelihood that the story you tell yourself empowers you to believe in your ability to bounce back and thrive versus telling yourself a story that diminishes your faith and trust in yourself which causes you to wallow in self-pity and a state of learned helplessness.  

Steve Pavlina writes, “Events are neutral. What causes you to feel a certain way is how you interpret an event, how you think about it. The same event (even one as serious as the death of someone close to you) will be interpreted differently by different people. You were taught to interpret certain events to yourself as tragic while other people on the planet were taught to celebrate these same events. The event itself has no meaning, but the meaning you assign to it (whether done consciously or unconsciously) is what causes you to feel a certain way.”  

For many people Pavlina’s statement is viewed as heresy because it goes against what they have been conditioned to believe. However, after experiencing several deaths of family members, including my parents and son, I believe with no uncertainty that the reason I was able to move beyond the emotional pain of these experiences and bounce back from them better, stronger and wiser came down to God’s grace and my ability to transform the meaning I’d attributed to each experience.  

So often, when we are facing difficulty, the experience discolors our perspective. We begin to focus our attention and emotional energy ONLY on the not-so-good experience allowing it define who we are, what we can do and what is possible in our lives. This way of thinking leads to a limiting perspective of ourselves and what’s possible in our lives. It diminishes our hope for experiencing better and reduces the emotional energy we desperately need to rise above the circumstance.

Some of the things you believe were never true. They were someone else's fears. Give yourself a chance to examine your thoughts Change those that are negative. You are deserving.
~Louise Hay~

Consider the Possibility of New Possibilities

Because we have a tendency to believe everything we think, we have to be willing to examine our thoughts and challenge those that are not in alignment with our desired experience. Otherwise, when our thoughts go unexamined, especially during difficult times, our lives can be hijacked by emotional reasoning which can derail our efforts to getting back on track. 

In the Art of Possibility, Rosamond Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander writes, “…many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so base on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Every story you tell yourself is based on a network of assumptions.” The Zander’s point out, “Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.” When you begin to examine the ‘word in your heart’ and start to challenge limiting beliefs about yourself and what’s possible in a situation you open yourself up to experience new possibilities. 

This possibility has within it the power to blow many of the limiting beliefs and misconceptions you have about yourself and your experience to smithereens. Many breakthroughs come from simply believing a new idea has validity. Admitting the existence of a new possibility sets in motion the probability that you could perceive and approach your situation from a more empowering perspective. 

When you rely solely on your own understanding during a challenging experience, especially one which you have no experience or have had a lousy track record for success, you suffer from a shortage of data. Increasing your level of success requires that you develop a fresh perspective on the situation which will help you cultivate a spiritual and mental fortitude that fuels your emotional energy. Your bounce back success and ability to thrive during and after a difficulty come down to developing mental and emotional fortitude and exercising effective self-leadership habits.

Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.
~ Og Mandino ~

How to Bounce Back and Thrive in the Face of Difficulty

Oprah writes, “What I know for sure is that no matter where you stand right now - on a hilltop, in a gutter, at a crossroads, in a rut – you need to give yourself the best you have to offer in this moment. This is it. Rather than depleting yourself with judgments about what you haven’t done who you could have become, why you haven’t moved faster, or what should have changed, redirect this energy toward the next big push – the one that takes you from enough to better. The one that takes you from adequate to extraordinary. The one that helps you rise up from a low moment and reach for your personal best.”  

From my personal and professional experience, I know that nothing changes in our lives without a change in our inner-game. Also, without initiating corresponding actions relevant to a desired change, we will continue to miss our desired aim. This leads to frustration and disappointment. And if we don’t muster up the determination necessary to try again, we will begin to accept the status quo as the best we can experience. This my friend, can lead to living in a state of learned helplessness and accepting the notion that we are powerless to create the change we desire.   

The actions in this guide debunks the notion that you aren’t capable of bouncing back from difficulty better, stronger and wiser. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. In the midst of this difficulty, there is a seed of an equivalent advantage. A fresh perspective will help you see that you have what it takes to bounce back and thrive during and after a difficulty.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Truth of Your Reality. 

Self-awareness is the starting point for creating change. A sure fire way of getting and remaining stuck in a disempowering cycle of beliefs and behavior is the denial of the truth about how your feel and the circumstances that led to experiencing your present reality. Whether you had a hand at directly creating the situation or not, getting on track and moving forward from where you are by acknowledging your truth.

It’s important to understand that your perception of the truth is your perception. Your perception of most experiences depends largely on the meaning you attach to them. It is possible for others involved in the situation to have a different perception of it. That’s okay. This step is not about being right or wrong. It’s simply about ending any denial or suppression on your part about what you truthfully feel and think about the situation. Instead of numbing yourself, acknowledging your truth helps you to get real and tune-in to the thoughts and emotions shaping your perception of the situation. You can’t change what you refuse to acknowledge.

Do This: Show yourself some tender loving kindness with a judgment free zone (this means that you accept the fact that you have every right to feel and think the way that you do). Get out a few blank pieces of paper or your journal and begin to write down your true feelings and thoughts about the situation. Write until you feel you’ve put the core of what you feel and think about the situation on paper. Remember, this is a judgment free zone. It’s your truth.

Step 2: Identify the Meaning You’ve Attached to the Experience.

In his book, The Law of Agreements, Tony Burroughs points out, “Your agreement is your point of power, and you can add to or weaken any idea or commonly held belief simply by making a choice. We have within us, in each moment of our lives, the ability to discern- to decide whether something is working for us or not – and to choose to agree with it and make it stronger, or to say “Hey, I don’t think this is working for my highest good.” In order for you to exercise this power, you have to first, develop an awareness of your inner-states and second, take personal control of your life.

Your beliefs about your situation reflect agreements you’ve made unconsciously or consciously about it. Today is just as good as any to end your allegiance to beliefs and assumptions that limit your power to take the purpose-driven actions necessary for you to pull up your stakes and move forward.

Now that you’ve acknowledged the truth about what you feel and think about the situation. The following questions will help you tune-in to the story you are telling yourself about why you feel and think you can’t bounce back from this difficulty.

1. What are the agreements (the beliefs and ideas you have bought into) that are influencing your lack of progress in this situation?
2. What factual evidence do you have that proves your beliefs and assumptions about what isn’t possible are true?
3. What are the emotional interpretations (the meaning you’ve attached to the experience) driving the beliefs and assumptions you have about what isn’t possible in the situation?
4. In what ways have this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) diminished your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?
5. In what ways have this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) supported your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?

Acknowledging the truth of how you feel and think about your circumstance and answering the above questions provide you with a level of self-awareness that has within it the power to help you see how your perception (your beliefs, assumptions and emotional interpretations) is shaping what you feel and how you are responding to your situation. Identifying the meaning you’ve attached to your experience allows you to examine your perception and determine if that perspective is working in your best interest or not.

Step 3: Be All In.

Adopting an empowering perspective about who you are and what you’re capable of doing enables you to harness your power and be proactive toward what you decide to believe and do to experience better in the situation.

Stop overthinking. It fuels self-doubt and leads to procrastination and stagnation. Creating momentum in your situation requires that you get off the fence. You’ve got to be more than just interested in bouncing back and thriving in the face of this difficulty. You’ve got to be committed. The difference between interest and commitment is reflected in the energy of the actions you exhibit.

When interest becomes commitment it fuels a passionate determination within your soul that ignites your faith and provokes the strength of your spirit. The courage dwelling in you will be stirred up as you seek to find ways to make what may seem as impossible possible. Exhibiting this level of desire towards the change you want to experience has within it the power to create a new reality.

You may be saying to yourself, “Jackie, I’ve done all that I can do, and nothing has changed.” If this is the case, then you’re probably feeling frustrated and angry. I would be as well. This is perfectly normal. The first hurdle you’ve got to get over toward creating a new reality in this situation is yourself. It’s up to you to learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions so that they are not a hindrance to your progress. Private victories always precede public victories.

What I’m challenging you to consider is this: what you feel is important; however, what you believe and do is just as important. And in this step, you need to demand more from yourself. You’ve got to rise above any negative emotional reasoning about your situation and dig deeper then you’ve done in the past to tap into the reservoir of strength in your spirit. 

You have what it takes to accomplish the actions necessary to manifest the breakthrough you desire. Realizing a new possibility requires radical faith and a willingness to take radical actions which can release the untapped potential dwelling in you to manifest your vision of possibility.

Step 4: Mind the Gap. 

In this last step, closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be involves developing and exhibiting effective self-leadership habits.

You can have in life what you are willing to be. One of the most effective ways I know how to develop the mindset and habits essential to achieving any goal is the adoption of identity-based beliefs and actions. Identifying the personal attributes of the person capable of manifesting a particular aim will help you develop the mindset and habits essential to your breakthrough.  When your actions are aligned with the change you desire to experience, you will increase your chance of making your desire a reality.

The following self-leadership habits will empower you to create and maintain congruency between what you say you want and what you desire to experience.

1.      Tune-In to Your Strong Moments. There have been moments in your life when you were faced with challenging situations and instead of floundering under the pressure from them you reacted to them from a place of strength that you didn’t know that you had in you. You were energized by them and perceptive enough to identity what it would take to move forward.  Remembering to remember your strong moments enables you to galvanize your strengths and identify what works and what doesn’t work for you to reach a successful outcome in a challenging situation.

2.     Identify Your Compelling Why. You possess the power to utilize your imagination to create new realities. This power is activated by a clear vision of what you desire and a compelling reason that stirs your soul as to why you must make this vision a reality in your life. When your desire is attached to a compelling why that incites a sense of purpose and passion within you, you’ll begin to stir up the gifts within you by initiating bold moves towards what you want to experience. And these bold moves will enable you to step into your authentic power.

3.     Cultivate a Growth Mindset. Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow. In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D.  explains that individuals with a growth mindset approach life with a curiosity to learn. They believe their intelligence and talents are dynamic and adaptable. Whereas, individuals with a fixed mindset approach life wanting to look smart. They believe their intelligence and talents are static. Adopting a growth mindset which nurtures you to believe that you can learn more, be more and do more and experience more in life enlarges your capacity to become the person that can manifest your desired reality.

4.     Be a Person of Excellence. Nothing speaks more about what you believe than the quality of the actions you exhibit on a daily basis toward the change you desire. Being a person of excellence is not about striving for perfection. It is a commitment on your part to show up on a consistent basis exhibiting your A-game in the arena. It’s stretching yourself beyond preconceived limits. It’s increasing your knowledge and sharpening your skills and talents so that you put forth your personal best.

5.     Develop Resilient Relationships.  Robert Brooks Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein Ph.D., co-authors of The Power of Resilience write, “Regardless of our age or how secure and confident we feel, if we are to strengthen and maintain our optimism and resilience, it is essential that we interact with people who accept us and from whom we gather strength.” They go on to say, “If we are to nurture and maintain meaningful, emotionally satisfying connections and lead a resilient lifestyle, it is equally important for us to serve and be in the company of …someone we gather strength from on an ongoing basis.” The people we spend the most time with influence our capacity to be resilient and sense of belonging. Resilient relationships involves a mutual give and take, high levels of trust, caring and openness, and a sense of security and safety.

6.     Embrace Gratitude. Mihaly Csikszentimihaly states, “People who learn how to control their inner experiences will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us of can come to being happy.” When you’re going through a difficulty, you need all the emotional energy you can summon to take steps towards creating the change you desire. Your energy follows your thoughts. Develop the practice of gratitude by making it a priority on a daily basis to acknowledge at least three things that went well during the day. This practice helps to prevent you from allowing a temporary condition overshadow all that is good in your life. In the midst of difficulty, use the energy of gratitude to anchor your emotions and focus your attention and energy towards executing your next steps to move forward.

In Conclusion

Although the challenge you face may have you feeling as if you are in the eye of a storm, believe in the strength residing in your spirit. You are full of “can do” power. Remember to remember your strong moments as they are a reminder of what you have overcome and what you’re capable of. 

You are in the right place at the right time to learn the lessons necessary for your spiritual, emotional, and psychological development. The wisdom and insights gained from this experience help to cultivate mental, emotional and spiritual fortitude which will serve as an advantage for you, now and in the future. 

The thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and assumptions that make up the stories you tell yourself about how smart and strong you are and what you’re capable of handling in life and what you’re worthy of experiencing have a huge impact on the course of your life. In Find Your Courage Margie Warrell writes, “Given that our actions are based on the realities we define regarding whom we are and what we are capable of achieving, our lives are either limited or expanded by the stories we have devised.”

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you have been getting.” The challenge that you face cannot be solved by telling yourself disempowering stories that diminish your hope, faith and courage. As you demonstrate self-acceptance, practice radical self-love and transform limiting beliefs about what’s possible in your circumstance, you will begin to develop a fresh perspective towards yourself and your situation and be more apt to initiate the actions necessary to bring about the change you desire.

Understand this, any time you initiate actions that challenge the status quo, you will experience resistance within yourself and from those accustomed to you being a certain way. Expect it. Do not get upset about it. It is a normal part of any transition process. It's important to manage your thoughts and emotions so that you remain committed to taking action everyday towards what you desire. Before lending your agreement to any belief, ask yourself, “Will this belief add to my well-being?” Get in agreement with beliefs that inspire you to improve the quality of your life. They will help fuel your consistent execution of purpose-driven actions necessary for manifesting a new possibility.

Be mindful of how your emotional armor can inhibit you from living wholeheartedly. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes, “As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished and disappointed. We put on armor, we used our thoughts, emotions and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults, we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be- we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapon, show up, and let ourselves be seen.”

Daring to be brave requires you to embrace vulnerability. Although it may be a scary thought, the reality is, as long as you live, you will always be vulnerable. It’s not a matter of whether you are vulnerable. It’s a matter of whether you will be proactive and be vulnerable in ways that expand your capacity to express your authentic power!

This guide is an excerpt from my book Get Unstuck Now. It is available at

If you're living in or near the Columbia, SC area, I will be presenting the LIVE version of my new program, Get Unstuck & Get Moving Master Class in October 2015. Subscribe today to Grow Forward & Flourish to get information on early bird registration discount.

Be Your Bravest Self

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dare to Be Brave: Engage Life with Compassion, Connection and Courage Wk.4

What we know and do is important, but who we are is more important.

Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.”

The areas in our lives where we feel disconnected, disengaged and struggle for worthiness challenges each of us to dig deeper into our reservoir of innate strength and exhibit a greater measure of compassion, connection and courage. Only then are we willing to show up and let ourselves be seen.

Who Are You Becoming?

A common thread in the Dare to Be Brave series has been that we have to own and engage with vulnerability to transform our lives. There is a subtle, yet, huge spiritual and emotional cost that goes undetected for years, possibly decades when we shut down and disengage by protecting ourselves with masks and emotional armor. Any fear and erroneous assumptions we have about vulnerability prevents us from getting in the arena and embracing life wholeheartedly.

When this is the case, it is imperative that you ask yourself the following questions:

1.      Who am I becoming as a result of the actions I’m taking?
2.    Are my actions aligned more with my values or with my fears?
3.    Am I proud of the person I’m becoming?

When your fears dominate your approach to life, your courage shrinks. When your courage shrinks, you begin to play small. When you play small, you lose opportunities to express the fullness of who you are. When you fail to engage outlets for the purpose of expressing who you are, you will begin to feel frustrated with yourself and life. And if you allow this state of being define who you are, you are more apt to take on a victim mentality versus a champion mentality.

You don’t want to live life as a victim. The seeds of greatness within you yearn to be expressed. It’s your responsibility to stir up the gifts within you and express them passionately and purposefully. This can’t happen without flipping your script on the limiting beliefs and erroneous assumptions you have about vulnerability.

The Process of Becoming Your Bravest Self

It is difficult to own your authentic power without letting go of what people think.

It is difficult to cultivate self-compassion without letting go of perfectionism.

It is difficult to cultivate a resilient spirit without letting go of masks and emotional armor.

It is difficult to embrace the practice of gratitude as a way of life without letting go a scarcity mentality.

It is difficult to cultivate your intuition and trusting faith without letting go the need for certainty.

It is difficult to cultivate creativity without letting go of the need to compare yourself to others.

It is difficult to engage play and rest when being busy and exhaustion has become your status symbol.

It is difficult to experience calm and stillness when you’ve accepted anxiety as a way of being and living.

It is difficult to cultivate meaningful work without letting go of self-doubt and all the beliefs you have about what you’re “supposed to” be and do.

It is difficult to express laughter, singing and dancing without letting go your need to always be in control.

Becoming your bravest self involves the process of letting go some habits that are familiar and embracing a new way of being that includes accepting uncertainty as a part of life, taking risks and exposing yourself emotionally.

Becoming your bravest self involves cultivating a strong belief in your worthiness and holding yourself in a positive light. Regardless of the struggles you face, it is imperative that you hold on to the belief that you are worthy of love, belonging and joy.

Becoming your bravest self requires that you embrace vulnerability. It is through vulnerability that you discover the power of compassion, connection and courage.

Many of the lessons I’ve learned and the insights I share as a mentor, writer and personal growth teacher and speaker has come as a result of overcoming disappointments, heartache and adversity. I have discovered that this ability is what Business Strategist Tara Gentile refers to as my unfair advantage.

As a child, I was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. to have a dream that enables me to make a difference in the lives of others. This sincere desire coupled with childlike faith that I will live out the divine plan and purpose for my life provides me with the necessary foresight to see how my most challenging experiences prepares me serve others in a greater capacity.

Redefining My Strong Black Woman Social Mask

In my book, Get Unstuck Now I share how after the unexpected death of my son, Blease I protected myself by numbing my feelings. And, how no amount of partying, booze or emotional buying helped me to heal my soul wound. I expressed how I was so concerned with maintaining my distorted definition of a “Strong Black Woman” that it contributed to me getting stuck in the fear-based story I started to tell myself which only increased my despair and sense of powerlessness.

It was not until I begin to see and peel back the layers of fallacy in the story I was telling myself about my loss  and engage the process of healing my heart wound in a healthy manner that I was able recognize the need to redefine what it meant for me to be a strong black woman.

In the past, I would boast about how I could “turn-on” and “turn-off” my feelings.  I wore this belief and way of being like a badge of honor. In the past, I placed a greater value on what I was doing versus what I was feeling. In the past, I suppressed a lot of my feelings in personal relationships to maintain peace and avoid conflict while I used sex, alcohol and work as a way to avoid having difficult conversations. In the past, being a strong black woman meant doing whatever it takes to help someone or reach a goal. Sometimes, my actions were not in my long-term best interest.

Today, I’m my #1 priority. I believe that being a strong black woman requires that I take care of me first. It means that I honor my core values and beliefs. It means that I establish boundaries in all of my relationships. It means expecting others to treat me with respect. It means engaging a personal relationship with someone who has similar values and beliefs and whom I can have a strong friendship and partnership. It means having the courage to have difficult conversations in a respectful manner. It means being very mindful of those I allow in my inner-circle of friends.

Being a strong black woman means that I will not accept scarcity as a way of life. It means that I must make time on a consistent basis to sharpen my sow to increase my efficiency and effectiveness towards the goals I want to achieve. It means honoring the Sabbath and taking a day each week to tune-out the world so that I can tune-in to the wisdom of my inner guide, rest my body and rejuvenate my spirit. It means engaging purposeful opportunities to stir up the gifts within me so that I am able to serve others in a greater capacity. It means expressing the truth of my feelings in a respectful manner and accepting that doing so increases my spiritual, emotional and mental strength. Being a strong black woman means that I practice radical self-love and self-compassion because to do otherwise leads to resentment, bitterness and anger. And I refuse to squander my life living bitter and angry. Instead, dwelling in a state of peace, love and joy is my ultimate daily goal.

Although this is my ultimate daily goal, I miss the mark. However, the work I continue to do towards mastering the meaning of my experiences enable me to accept my imperfections while holding myself accountable for walking my talk. Mihaly Csikszentimihaly asserts, “People who learn how to control their inner experiences will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”

Compassion: Healing Balm for Wounded Souls

There’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness,” writes Brené Brown.

Engaging compassion, connection and courage certainly challenges us to dare greatly!

Recently I had an experience with someone who was upset about something that had nothing to do with me, however, the energy of the words she spoke triggered a visceral response that created a shift in my mental and emotional energy. Although I didn’t like the person’s response, I couldn’t figure out why I was responding to the situation from a protective state of mind.  It was not until I begin to show myself some tender loving-kindness was I able to see that the person’s outburst triggered my need to protect myself because the incident occurred in an environment which I did not control. So, I started to feel unsafe in the environment.

As I finish this article, I am writing these words realizing that there is most likely something deeper that I need to flush out in order for me to process the emotional trigger that led me to being in this defensive mode. Until then, I will extend myself compassion and do my best to see the individual from a compassionate perspective.

By no means does this mean that by showing this person compassion I will open myself up to a similar experience. No. It means that I will use the gift of self-awareness to begin the process of healing that place in my soul that was effected by this experience. I will maintain an emotional safe zone whenever I’m in this person’s presence and extend kindness towards the individual. For now, that’s the best that I can do. And I’m okay with that.

If you’ve been reading any of my articles for a while, you know I don’t subscribe to this notion that we should overextend ourselves for others even to our detriment. I’m not a martyr. Nor should you be. That’s why establishing boundaries in our relationships is important.

When we see ourselves and others through the lens of compassion our hearts are more open and resilient and we become mindful of balancing our perspectives on experiences. In my situation, compassion is leading me to another level of healing my soul. I know from previous experiences that when this happens it is only preparing me to serve in a greater capacity.  Because I see this experience as a tool for helping me sharpen my sow, I’m grateful that it occurred so that I can shine light on the beliefs and emotions that shaped my response.  As I seek to find the treasure within this experience, I expect to become wiser, better and stronger. Compassion s a soothing balm for healing the wounded places of our souls and the souls of others.

Quality Connections Increase Your Sense of Belonging

The two most powerful forms of connection are love and belonging. Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly, “…only one thing separated the men and women who felt a deep sense of love and belonging from the people who seemed to struggle for it: the belief in their worthiness.” She points out, “It’s as simple and complicated as this: If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.”

When we feel seen, heard and valued and believe that we can share our honest thoughts and feelings without judgment, we feel connected. People can be in the presence of “their people” and feel alone. Real connection is not just being in someone’s presence. Real connection is when you feel mentally and emotionally validated by others.

We have an innate desire to be part of something larger than ourselves. Our yearning for belonging and purpose often leads us to trying to be someone we’re not and engage behavior against our beliefs and values to fit in and receive the approval of others. These are hollow substitutes for belonging. So often, they become barriers to the very thing we desire: a sense of belonging.

Brown writes, “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

As you seek to live a more connected life, establish healthy boundaries in your relationships, spend less time and energy hustling for people’s approval who don’t matter to the manifestation of the divine plan and purpose for your life and more time with family and close friends who support and demonstrate by their actions that they are for you. You will feel a greater sense of belonging and connection.

Get in the Arena: Activate Your Courage

In her book, Find Your Courage, Margie Warrell shares, “The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, meaning “heart,” and so the essence of courage is about living “wholeheartedly.” Therefore so long as you have breath in your body you have all that it takes to live a courageous life. In fact, your life is waiting on you to do just that-not because you might die if you don’t act with courage, but because without it, you many never truly live.”

My friend, courage is not just about the heroic acts that we read about or see on the evening news, it’s also a reflection of the choices we make on a daily basis. Such as, when we take responsibility for our lives, live with integrity, challenge our limiting stories, dream BIG in the face of daunting circumstances, persevere in the face of failure, say “No” to people, tasks and activities that are not aligned with the vision we have of the life we want to experience, speaking up for what we believe and taking action even when we feel afraid because of a compelling vision of a new possibility.

In the introductory article of this series, I shared the Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech, “The Man in the Arena” which reads,

It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

Become Your Bravest Self

Finding your courage to dare greatly challenges you to learn how to better manage your perception of your fears and self-doubt. Self-doubt is often a reflection of your fear of failure, being rejected, looking foolish, or just being inadequate. Finding the courage to dare greatly requires you to acknowledge and accept your fears and insecurities as a normal part of the human experience, while at the same time, refusing to allow them define who you are, who you can become and what you are worthy of experiencing in life. Finding your courage to dare greatly increases your ability to think bigger, live bolder and create more rewarding lives.

In Conclusion

As you exhibit compassion towards yourself and others, establish healthy boundaries in your relationships, cultivate relationships with individuals who got your back and consistently show you that they are for you, maintain a balanced perspective on your experiences, accept the reality that you will experience some measure of self-doubt and fear as long as you live and decide that you won’t allow this reality define who you are and who you can become and what you are worthy of experiencing in life, you will expand the territory of your life in ways beyond what you can imagine or think.

Hope is necessary to finding the courage to dare greatly. Hope inspires you with gratitude for what is, while a compelling vision of new possibilities inspires a passionate determination to create what can be.

Encouraging Words from My Book, Get Unstuck Now:

Be patient with yourself as you embrace the process of this journey. All progress is process.  Be confident in your ability to make incremental progress towards transforming the beliefs and assumptions that limit you from believing that you are well able to walk boldly in the arena embodying your authentic power.

You are loved. You are worthy. You are valued. You may think you are weak, but God knows the strength dwelling in you. Even when everyone else sees only your faults, God still sees possibilities. You may make mistakes; God has not given up on you. You may feel you don’t know your way; God is able to help you find your way.

It’s never too late to tap into a greater measure of the seeds of greatness in your potential. One step taken today towards showing up and allowing yourself to be seen brings you one step closer to expressing more of your authentic power than you were yesterday. Trust in the wisdom of your inner voice which prompted you to read this article. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.

1.      What actions can you begin to take to develop a practice of self-compassion?
2.    Are you in relationships with people that you need to establish healthy boundaries? If so, script the crucial conversation that needs to take place so that you don’t try to wing it or allow the conversation get hijacked by emotions.
3.    What can you do to accept yourself which will increase your sense of connection and belonging?


Feel free to send me a private message on my contact page about this series. I would appreciate your feedback.

Who do you know will benefit from this article? Share it with them and make their day.

Be Your Bravest Self

PS. Get Your BRAVE On with Sara Bareilles


Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly. USA. Penguin Group. 2012.
Warrell, Margie. Find Your Courage. USA. New York, New York. Pocket Books. 1990. Print.
Brown, Jackie. Get Unstuck Now. USA. Createspace. 2014.