Finding your courage in challenging times

Sometimes it takes courage just to do what you’re “supposed” to do, and sometimes, it can be hard to access that strength within yourself.  Your mindset is an important (if not the most important) component of strength and courage. The more we can move away from a state of fear, the less likely we are to give up. Fear is a natural emotion and it is meant to keep us safe. So there's absolutely no shame in being afraid! The thing is that for some of us (often the most sensitive of us) fear can be overwhelming and it can become all we think about.

So how can we overcome this issue?

  • Ask yourself: what are you really facing? What could be the worst scenario? Is it that bad? Could you actually live with it and work around it? Sometimes just looking your fear in the eyes is enough to calm it down.
  • Objectively, ask yourself what the odds are that the worst scenario actually happens? Likely extremely low.
  • Give yourself time to rest and regroup and make a committed effort to revisit the issue. If you determine that after all, there is not that much reason to be afraid, then try, try, try again. Research tells us that intelligence grows and changes with effort and can be linked to the development of teens’ growth mindsets.

But if what you are facing is truly dangerous, then you are right to feel fear and you should listen to it. Sometimes, you need people’s help to sort out your feelings as fear can also bring confusion. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from the people you trust: adults or peers. The perspective of other people can often be helpful in these situations.

We’ve found a few tips that might help you regain a sense of courage when you’re struggling

  • Find Models of Courage. But do not try to be a superhero! They don’t exist in real life. They can be people in your actual life, or athletes, performers, authors, or speakers that you see show up with courage regularly. If they inspire you to move out of your comfort zone or help you face your challenges with a sense of confidence, study what they do, how they respond to problems, and how they carry themselves. What can you apply to your own life and how do you choose to respond when you’re feeling less than courageous? 
  • Write down your values.  What do you stand for? What changes do you want to make in your life and the lives of others? Taking the time to write down a list of your own values can be an important step in identifying them and having a stronger sense of who you are. It can also help you make decisions and to speak up when something needs to be addressed. 
  • Find your Community.  Social isolation is not uncommon for teens to experience. This is completely normal, but taking the time to find and even build a community of like-minded individuals will help you feel connected and less alone.
  • Mindset Matters.  If you see yourself as courageous, you’re more likely to act courageously. If you tell yourself “I am courageous,” that alone can provide you with a much-needed psychological boost and help you face the day with confidence. Take some time to journal or just identify in your head all the courageous acts you performed recently. It can be “I wanted to stay in bed all day, but I was able to get up, take a shower, and study for an hour instead.” Give yourself credit wherever credit is due. It might help to share with your friends, or if you’re part of a Give Us The Floor supportive group chat, to make this an exercise with your group where you talk about one courageous act you performed recently. Make a list and review that list whenever you feel like your courage is eluding you.
  • You Don’t Have to be Perfect.  Making mistakes is a huge part of how we learn and grow. Allowing yourself to get comfortable with the idea that no one, including you, is perfect, is a very healthy practice. Studies actually show that students may benefit from making mistakes (and correcting them) rather than avoiding them. And by being honest about your mistakes, you help build resilience in your psyche: researchers reviewed 38 studies of resilience in response to failure, errors, or mistakes. They found that more resilient individuals put less pressure on themselves to be perfect and found ways to reframe mistakes and failures, such as saying to themselves: “I haven’t solved this algebra problem yet, but I will apply a different strategy and try again.

We hope that these tips will help you! And please share with us on Instagram things that worked for you so we can share them with our community! @giveusthefloor