Glimmering Butterfly Project – Day 22
Courage: one of my Top 5 Values of 2018 that I am attempting to cultivate deeply into the core of my being this year.
I am not someone who is known for being necessarily courageous. I tend to hide in the back and let others step up to the plate when something needs done. And I don’t necessarily want to do be doing that.
But I also know that I have been able to do things that many people might not, like share some of my deepest truths and vulnerabilities online. I know I’m making progress in this area, but I want to move even faster with it.
The Origin of Dragons
A few months ago I watched an old lecture from Jordan B. Peterson who did an entire lecture by reading a kid’s book about dragons, and unsurprisingly he spun it into a really deep life lesson. Like many of the messages Peterson had, this one stuck with me.
The general idea (and if you are intrigued by this, go watch it yourself because he can articulate all of this so much better) is that dragons exist in your life. They are every single problem or situation in your life that needs to be handled. Some dragons (problems/situations) are small and some are large. Some are a bit quiet and others are a bit loud. Some seem harmless and others cause a lot of problems.
Can you think of a few problems or situations in your life right now that might have these attributes? I can:
- I’m about to fall off my parents’ insurance and I need to deal with this. I have not.
- My income isn’t where I want it and it’s not sustainable.
- I’ve become really bad about taking care of other obligations and meeting deadlines.
- The car I’m using is … old. Probably on its last legs and could just stop working at any moment. I haven’t looked for a replacement yet.
- I’m usually pretty slow to get around to doing taxes, often waiting until the last few days before the deadline.
- “Notes” and “reminders” tend to pile up for days at a time before I clear through them.
Most of those are pretty substantial things I need to take care of. And if I don’t take care of them, they can cause some serious harm. Peterson talks about how dragons can grow. They start off small and sometimes harmless, which is why many of us put off handling those dragons in our lives. But because they CAN grow, they become bigger and as they become bigger… they become stronger and have the capacity to do damage in our lives.
Big dragons can breathe fire and will cause even more damage than we can possibly figure out. In fact, the fact that those dragons are big, alive, and flying around means that they can go around and create even MORE problems than we anticipate. It makes me a bit icky just looking at those items above and thinking about what will happen if I don’t take care of them “in time.”
And this is why it’s important to take care of, to SLAY those dragons, as early as we can. When they’re small and easy to handle. When they aren’t likely going to cause much, if any, damage. Even seemingly “small” problems/situations are worth taking seriously:
- A couple of items or clothes misplaced in the room.
- Noticing and reading a text but not answering it while it’s on your mind.
- Leaving those emails in the inbox.
- Skipping a brief practice session in your hobby “just this once.”
- Not leaving the house early for an appointment.
All of these have the capacity to become more serious problems, bigger dragons. If we don’t take care of them immediately or as soon as possible, then they are bound to grow – and as they grow, they cause more of a mess in our life and then become harder to slay.
Becoming the Dragon Slayer of My Own Life
In my pursuit of becoming more courageous, I want to take on the mindset of a “Dragon Slayer” in my life. By becoming a slayer of the dragons in my life, I’ll habitually become more courageous, and be able to yield the riches that dragons protect – the gold that they hoard.
This ties in so well with a snippet from Psycho-Cybernetics, one of my all-time favorite books. Maxwell Maltz offers a “prescription” for courage and self-confidence, two components for the “Success-Type Personality.” Summarized, to become more courageous and more self-confident Maxwell provides the following advice and insights:
- Bet on yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Everyone has strength inside of them, but many don’t think they have it within them. That resources is available to all of us, but only if you act. You are braver than you think.
- Dare to take a step in the wrong direction. It’s better than staying “on the spot” all of your life. Once moving forward, you can correct your course. But your subconscious can’t guide you when you’re stalled, standing still. Be willing to make a few mistakes.
- Small success is a stepping stone for greater success. We must start small and gradually work ourselves up to bigger wins in our life. Boxing managers do this by carefully “graduating” their boxers from success to success in their fights to create confidence-building experiences. “When beginning a new task, call up the feelings you experienced in some past success, however small it might have been.”
- Don’t dwell on your mistakes and failings. Focus on your successes and regularly remember them in times of self-doubt. Maxwell jokes that we should only be self-critical about ourselves “once a year.” The subconscious helps us auto-correct without our needing to focus on it 24/7.
- Practice acting boldly and with courage in regard to ‘little things.’ This goes RIGHT back to what I said in What a Teese – Lessons from the ‘Queen of Burlesque.’ What Dita von Teese talks about with “wearing lingerie under everything, every day, all the time” developing courage takes regular practice – it needs to be worked on and “worn” every single day, especially in the moments you wouldn’t need it. And only then will courage be a default behavior for you, not requiring immense effort to call upon in a time of need.
- Confront your problems and fears (dragons). A great quote in this section of the book is, “No Captain can do very wrong if he places his Ship alongside that of an Enemy.” All problems in our lives become erased or shrink in size if we confront them, rather than avoid them. “Touch a thistle timidly and it pricks you. Grasp it boldly and its spine crumbles.”
This is all great and helpful for me. In fact, the section on courage in Psycho-Cybernetics is what originally inspired me to make a post. And then I started putting the pieces together and decided: I want to be a dragon slayer.
I mean, dragon slayers are kind of badass. It comes with this grand image of adventure and slaying mighty beasts far larger than you and have the ability to crush or obliterate you … yet there you are, standing your ground with the confidence that you will topple the foul beast and take the gold and riches it has hoarded!
If I take some of that advice for myself…
- Bet on yourself:
- I can recognize that I have taken some courageous steps in the past, so I know it’s doable because I’ve done it before.
- I can recognize that there IS strength inside of me, I just haven’t used it.
- And perhaps most importantly: I can and will start doing the things I want to do and trust that the strength will follow, and be created along the way, to stand against tribulation and other dragons that show their faces.
- Dare to take a step in the wrong direction:
- Rather than spend 90% of my time planning and 10% of my time moving… I can reverse that and plan 10% of the time and MOVE and COURSE CORRECT 90% of the time.
- I could just pick one of my “big ideas” and just DO it. Move towards it. Take the next step closer to it. So what if it’s the complete wrong way? At least when I move, I’ll recognize that, instead of playing a million different possibilities in my head.
- And so what if someone laughs? I’m moving and doing what I think is best and they’re… standing there laughing.
- Small success is a stepping stone for greater success:
- Take baby steps. This was one of the most common pieces of advice I was given when I shared something really personal with a massive group of strangers on Facebook. Start small, start where you’re comfortable enough to take one scary step forward, and you’ll build your courage and confidence along the way.
- With all of the new things I want to do this year, I will have to call upon previous memories/feelings of success.
- Celebrate those little moments I DO have the courage to do something out of my comfort zone.
- Clean my room – one of Peterson’s pieces of advice for someone trying to “sort themselves out.”
- Don’t dwell on your mistakes and failings:
- I think if I only did this one out of these 6, I would be insanely happier this year than any other year. I spend so much time dwelling on the past and things I “did wrong” that I lose so much time and energy that could be spent on something actually beneficial for my life.
- Nobody really cares about all of the problems I keep thinking are a big deal.
- The more I talk about them, the more they will persist in my life.
- Practice acting boldly and with courage in regard to ‘little things.’:
- Find moments every single day to do something boldly and with courage; in my room, in my attire choices, saying something I believe in, and so on. Build up those courage muscles one itty-bitty thing at a time!
- Be who I am, all the time, just as Teese Advocates wearing lingerie every single day.
- Confront your problems and fears (dragons):
- This is perhaps the most important of them all: actually stepping up to the plate and confronting the dragons, small and large in my life.
- Sit down and get to work on those things I keep putting off.
- And even work up that courage to share what I’m afraid to share, wear that thing I’m afraid to wear, talk to that person who intimidates me, and so on.
Doing “Comfort Zone Challenges” and embarking on “Rejection Therapy” are both activities that really, really interested me in recent years. But I very rarely did the things I wanted me to do. Maybe I will focus on just a few of them at first (baby steps). But looking back, I do recognize a handful of moments in recent years where I did step out of my comfort zone. And as I reflect on that… I’m realizing that the gap between each step is getting shorter and quicker.
“FAITH is not ‘believing in something in spite of the evidence’, but rather it is ‘the COURAGE to do something regardless of the consequences.”
At this point, talking about becoming courageous is starting to feel repetitive. I think and talk a lot about it, but now is the time to actually BE courageous by DOING courageous things. I can see and feel that this year will be a year of living far more courageously and independently than ever before. But of course, it’s just the beginning and it’s just talk – action is what counts.
But I also don’t want to sell myself short like I often do. I may very well still need to build myself up, little by little, and build those experiences of success.
And to really begin my year of courageous living… very soon I will share the “private” post I made in a closed group that involves being completely vulnerable about one of the “weird” things about me that I’ve been afraid of people finding out. Because the payoff was immense. It was the best way I could have ended 2017 and started 2018.
Here’s to 2018: the year of slaying dragons, doubts, and FEARS. Not by eliminating them, but by becoming STRONGER and more COURAGEOUS than them.
Are you a slayer of dragons in your life or do you need to become one? Imagine what a community of dragon slayers would look like and what they could accomplish.
This entire post paraphrased by a Gary Vaynerchuk favorite:
“We’re strong as shit. We’re really fucking strong. We’re just being sold that we’re not, because there’s a lot of money in telling us we’re not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough. FUCK THAT. I wanna tell you you’re the fucking best, go do shit.” – youtu.be/NfcVRvXhTwg?t=1m33s