There are many times in life when it’s easier to take the coward’s way out.
To not ask out the girl you like, to give up on the job you want that’s out of your reach, to avoid a difficult conversation with an estranged family member.
The sad part, however, is that being a coward is like an addiction that just keeps having worse consequences.
Here’s how to embrace your courageous side and begin living a more authentic and empowered life.
We all have bravery inside, we just need to tap into it.
1) Say what you mean
The main reason people often refrain from speaking their minds is to avoid conflict.
Many people learn to try to avoid conflict at all costs. But this isn’t always the best option.
Sometimes conflict leads to resolution and clarity: sometimes avoiding conflict leads to confusion, heartbreak, and complete miscommunication.
Saying what you mean is a key way to stop being a coward.
If you don’t want to date someone, tell them: if you do want to, tell them.
If you believe that a business opportunity isn’t to your liking and not what you’re looking for right now, say it: don’t accept the job and then slowly suffer and agonize over ways to quit it.
Say what you mean.
There is a place for being tactful and not starting useless arguments.
But weigh on the side of saying what you mean. It makes everything so much simpler in the end.
2) Mean what you say
Many of us change our views and perspectives from moment to moment, and that’s understandable.
But it’s crucial to start meaning what you say as much as possible in order to stop habits of being cowardly.
The first key way to do this is to think and reflect before you speak.
The second key ingredient here is to reflect on how your words will affect those around you and the lives of people who are close to you.
This is especially true if you promise to do something or help someone:
Follow through on your words!
Cowards use words to put off doing work or to get a temporary pass, especially saying they “will” do something just to take the pressure off…
And then not do it.
Cowards talk and talk. Authentic people know talk is cheap unless it’s backed up by real intention and action.
3) Step out of your comfort zone
If you want to stop being a coward, step out of your comfort zone.
People often underestimate the impact of their environment and how much it not only shapes them but also keeps them in line.
When you have the same routine every day and do the same things and see the same people, you become highly accustomed to knowing what to expect.
In short, you have a set comfort zone that you don’t like to leave.
Even a detour on the road home from work may spike your anxiety levels: this wasn’t supposed to happen!
The problem here is that unless and until you step out of your comfort zone, you will continue to be afraid of the unexpected and terrified of interruptions to your routine.
You will become exactly the kind of suburban bourgeois robot that you mocked as a teenager.
4) Progressively challenge yourself
We often lean towards trying to have an easier and easier life.
On the physical level, this leads to obesity and laziness. On the spiritual and emotional level, it means remaining frozen in states of being that no longer serve us or others.
The solution is to progressively challenge yourself and up the ante.
If you just ran a half marathon, start training for a full marathon.
Don’t be afraid to return to the starting line when necessary if that’s what it takes to perfect your art.
Sometimes starting over is just part of the game. Don’t worry about it.
Just hop to it!
Progressively challenge yourself and raise the bar. Your cowardice will all but disappear as you enmesh yourself in the challenge of trying to surpass your previous best.
Don’t worry about how you’re stacking up to those around you.
Worry about how you’re stacking up to yourself of yesterday instead.
If you ever start feeling like the odds have been stacked against you from the start and there’s just no way life’s going to pan out, take a look at the story of Nick Vujicic!
5) Find out your core mission and follow it
What’s your purpose in life?
If you’d asked me six months ago I would have given you a blank stare, but now I’m a lot clearer on what my purpose is and how to achieve it.
I was helped a lot by this free masterclass on how to find your purpose using a strange new trick.
The video from Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown bypasses a lot of the nonsense that fills many New Age channels and sites.
Forget about vibrations, visualization, and dreaming of an ideal future.
Instead, you’ll learn how to actually make use of your current reality and find your purpose in a totally unexpected way.
I found this method extremely effective in finding my purpose and it worked much more quickly and specifically than I’d expected.
I’d encourage everyone to check it out if you’re feeling confused about the point of your life or maybe considering that there isn’t one at all.
6) Focus on action, not analysis
There are times that require thinking and decisions that can be helped by analysis.
But one of the biggest reasons for cowardly behavior is simply overthinking.
The solution? Stop thinking so damn much.
Seriously. That’s the solution.
First, stop thinking for ten minutes and focus on going for a jog.
Then stop thinking for twenty minutes while swimming or taking photographs out in the beautiful forest.
Then stop thinking for an entire hour while playing guitar and getting lost in the melody and the technique.
You’ll still think more than enough in between.
But by learning to stop analyzing and having that inner monologue ruling the roost, you’ll make enormous progress towards beginning to follow through more on your decisions instead of sitting back and making excuses or being afraid.
7) Practice the law of detachment
Another great way to stop being a coward is to practice the law of detachment.
How this works is that you take action and work toward your goals, but you never stake your happiness, hope, or self-worth on those goals.
If you don’t get the guy or girl, if the job falls to shit or if the move to a new city turns out to suck, you take it in stride.
I’m not saying you won’t have bad days. You still make mistakes and have regrets.
We all do.
But the law of detachment means you stop seeking or even wanting fulfillment from anything external.
The result is that you become much braver and more authentic.
8) Look after your body and mind
It’s important to look after your body and mind if you want to stop being cowardly.
When you feel good, look good, and are having a restful sleep then you are able to face the day with a spring in your step.
You need to look after yourself well and make sure that you’re caring for your body, mind and soul.
When you feel like you’re at the top of your game, you’re ready to deal with the challenges that the day throws at you with grace and aplomb.
Most of all, finding out your purpose in life like I talked about earlier, is a way to look after yourself and confront challenges courageously.
When you know why you’re doing something and what your goal is it’s much easier not to get dragged down by the obstacles in your way.
It’s also easier to practice the law of detachment I talked about earlier by focusing on by detaching your own worth and happiness from external occurrences.
9) Respect yourself
The coward is somebody who doesn’t respect him or herself.
Cowardice is when you believe the inner voice that says “I can’t” instead of the inner voice that says “I’ll try.”
When you respect yourself and think back to all you’ve accomplished, your doubting side begins to lose power.
Being brave doesn’t mean being reckless.
You’re still not likely to go cliff diving in a remote area because a friend dares you and you want to be a daredevil.
But if a challenge comes up in life or you face a physically or emotionally difficult situation, you can face it much more competently when you respect yourself.
Sometimes that means saying no. Sometimes that means saying yes.
Sometimes it means putting yourself first, other times it means taking one for the team.
At the end of the day, cowardice is a set of behaviors, and the more you respect yourself and your own worth the more you will not fall into this set of cowardly behaviors.
10) Stop confusing cowardice with kindness
One of the most common mistakes that people make is in thinking that being kind or compassionate is cowardly.
If you talk about your feelings or show vulnerability, you’re not a real man, or you’re a “needy” woman.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Being kind to yourself and others is courageous and mature.
Cowardice is when you hide who you are from yourself and others in order to feel secure and hide from your issues.
Cowardice is when you put a fresh coat of bright paint on a crumbling house and then invite the neighbors in while bragging about it.
Cowardice is fakeness.
And in terms of actions and life goals, cowardice is talking on and on about what you will do but not actually doing it.
Cowardice is saying you’ll help somebody and then not.
Cowardice is desiring something with all your heart but remaining attached to the voices inside yourself and around you which tell you that you’re not good enough.
You are good enough.
Only the brave
The key to living with more courage is to realize it’s already inside you.
Living itself is an act of bravery.
Keep in mind that your outer status and what other people think of you do not determine whether you’re courageous or not.
Many cowards are followed and adored by millions, from celebrities to politicians to corporate leaders.
They take the easy way out and embrace corruption and “going along” with a system they know deep down is wrong.
No, cowardice is not something that is reflected by how outwardly successful you are.
It’s something that occurs when you know in your heart that you have let yourself and others down and that you could be doing so much more and so much better than you are doing.
“To be a coward is to take the easy path when adversity rears its ugly head. A coward can be anyone at any level of the dominance hierarchy.”
I have a watch that says “only the brave” inside. It’s some kind of motto of the brand, but it made me think.
There are many situations and challenges I’ve faced in my life that took bravery. There were other times that I fell below what I was capable of or made excuses.
But through it all, I realized that each person has their own struggle between courage and cowardice.
We all try to become more courageous, authentic, and effective in life and face challenges and fears that others may not realize or understand.
They, in turn, may need to be brave in ways we don’t realize because we haven’t experienced being in their shoes.
Most of all, I want readers to consider that cowardice is not an identity. It’s certain types of behaviors and excuses.
If you’re being a coward it doesn’t mean you are one, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to continue to engage in cowardly behavior.
Turn over a new leaf and embrace your courageous side.