“The bravest are those who surely have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.” – Thucydides
I have created this anti-anxiety and anti-stress tool kit, proven by science, to help you reduce anxiety and stress. I guarantee you that if you implement some of these ideas and use these tools; you will navigate this uncertainty boat like a highly skilled Captain.
The Days of Covid19
As we continue to live in the days of Covid19, I wanted to share a story with you that I hope will inspire and embolden you as much as it has me.
Once upon a time, there was a young couple who wanted to make a life for themselves and raise their children in the mountains of Arizona. They decided to move their family from Valencia, New Mexico to Northern Arizona; a journey of only 200 miles, yet this 200-mile trip was anything but safe.
This was no ordinary trip, no ordinary couple, and no ordinary era; the year was 1880.
The Days of the Wild West
The backdrop to our story takes place in the American Frontier; the era where the likes of the fearless Apache Warrior Geronimo, the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid, and Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp all lived, roamed and made their mark on the Southwest.
Indian raids, gunfights, shootouts, and facing the feared cattle rustlers were the norm, not the exception.
If I Die…Bury Me
As the young couple traveled across the Wild West with their horse and buggy, the husband grew exceedingly fearful. He saw smoke in the distance. It looked like it was coming from the small town he believed to be Alma. He said to his young bride,
“Maybe we should turn back, what if we get ambushed, what if we get killed, what if I die, what if you die?”
To which his wife responded,
“If I die, bury me; if you die, I’ll bury you.”
A pretty brazen response from a petite 18-year-old girl who probably was about 5 feet tall and might have weighed 100 lbs. That young girl, Genoveva Garcia Castillo, was my great-grandmother.
A Greater Purpose
Genoveva had extraordinary faith and optimism; however, she was rooted in reality. She recognized that it was a dangerous time to live and certainly a dangerous journey for her family; but she believed there was a greater cause, a greater purpose to live out.
We are also living in very scary times. We may not be facing scalping war parties, lawless outlaws, or shootouts at the O.K. Corral, but we are facing a pandemic that has shut down the entire world.
This is nothing to make light of; however, regardless of what you are facing, you too have a greater cause; a greater purpose to live out.
It is times like this when we need the bravery of the Genovevas in the world to encourage us. Courageous people know reality when it stares them in the face but choose to be brave despite their fears because they are driven by something greater.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Bravery is not a trait that you either have or you don’t have; it’s not set in stone when you’re born. Bravery and courage are traits that can be developed.
Science proves this and I have experienced it firsthand. I lived with fear as my best friend most of my life. Although I hated him (I’ve personified him), and the way he made me feel, I listened to the tormenting voice of Deception and followed his taunting lead for most of my life.
I always wished and even prayed to God that I could be brave like my great-grandmother, like my mom or dad. I would hear incredible stories of POW survivors, and people who suffered horrific atrocities and I thought they were just born brave.
God heard my prayers. He didn’t wave a magic wand to make me brave like I thought He would; instead He used the scary circumstances of my life to teach me how to be brave.
I had to learn how to confront my own trials; bankruptcy, home foreclosure, divorce, depression, and even death.
Facing such dire setbacks over the past 20 years has positively changed the way I think and act. When it comes to fear, I’ve learned that I have but one choice; to choose to be brave. I also learned I was never alone; He was always with me.
Two Dangerous Words: What If…
Fear still tries to haunt me. I’ve got to be honest with you, yesterday was tough. I struggled all day with panicky thoughts. I felt like darkness and doom were enveloping me. Just as my great-grandfather had his what-ifs, as he was passing through the dangerous wilderness, I had my own what-ifs facing life in the Covid19 era.
My what-ifs sounded like:
- What if I go to the grocery store and get exposed to Corona and infect my son Rock?
- What if I have to be separated from my loved ones for weeks and months?
- What if life never returns to normal?
As you can see, fear paralyzes us and reduces our ability to tap into our bravery skills. Fear is natural. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to have meltdowns. It’s okay to be afraid.
But it’s NOT okay to live there; you were born for so much more. Whether or not you stay fearful is a choice you make.
We have learned a harsh but valuable lesson in these Covid19 days; we are not in control of much. Perhaps this is a good thing because it causes us to focus on what we can control; our thoughts and actions.
Everyone differs in the way they deal with the challenges that life events throw at them.
While some fall into despair, others push through and build hope and resilience. How does that happen and what is it that distinguishes the two?
The answer is simple; it’s an intentional choice.
Courage is a strength that you already possess. It helps you exercise your will and face adversity. At the end of the day, being brave and being courageous is a state of mind that you choose to lean on.
How to Cultivate a Courageous State of Mind
1. Control the What If Thinking
Fear and anxiety are rooted in the unknown and uncertainty. This goes beyond just thoughts; worrisome thinking elevates your stress hormones and negatively impacts your body. However, you can control this and be part of your own solution.
When you notice your mind racing with toxic thoughts of what-ifs, press pause and stop. You have to physically do this to work in conjunction with your stress hormones. It takes 6 seconds for your stress hormones to abate so pressing pause will help you work with the biochemistry of your body; allowing you to calm down sooner.
After you press pause, sort and classify your thoughts. Take note of what thoughts are toxic and falling into the what-if category. When you allow the what-ifs to control you, you are projecting into the future, which by the way, in case you haven’t learned this lesson yet, you have no control over.
To build bravery, you must stay in the present and control what you have control over.
I highly recommend you use one or more of the action plans I have put together in my Crisis Kit. (Click here) These are proven by science to help you deal with stress, fear, and anxiety.
2. Choose One Healthy Thought
Courageous people choose to move forward. They refuse to be a prisoner of their mind. Once you’ve brought yourself back to the present, choose one healthy thought.
One healthy thought has the power to change your focus.
The more weight you give to possibility thinking, strategic plans, and gratitude, the sooner you’ll be able to embrace bravery.
Controlling your thoughts will impact your mindset, decisions, and well-being.
3. Remember How Far you’ve Come
As humans, we tend to give more weight to our negative experiences and forget the positive things we have experienced or accomplished.
This is the psychological phenomenon known as the negativity bias.
The negativity bias is real and it is our tendency as humans to focus on and give more weight to negative experiences than positive ones. Because of this bias, we not only tend to focus on the bad things that we face but those negative memories stay with us longer.
This, in turn, causes us to make decisions based on the negative rather than the good that we have experienced; squelching bravery.
So how do you combat this bias? Develop a good memory of all the things you’ve overcome; measure backward.
Make a list of all the frightening and challenging things you’ve experienced. Being mindful of how you came through those experiences helps you reduce the amount of time you spend thinking of toxic thoughts and rewires your brain to focus on the good.
Your brain will start adopting a more positive and optimistic perspective as a natural default setting rather than always jumping to the negative.
Try this 3 Courageous Things Activity:
- List 3 courageous decisions you’ve made.
- How did it feel to overcome the obstacles you were facing?
- How can you use those past experiences to help you now?
4. Think of Yourself Less
I heard this quote on humility and I feel it fits perfectly in our current Covid19 situation; dealing with uncertainty, fear and anxiety.
“Don’t think less of yourself, think of yourself less.” – Rick Warren
Usually, when we are experiencing anxiety, fear, or toxic thoughts, we are focused on ourselves. If you can flip that focus to the greater cause, the greater purpose, fear and anxiety lifts.
One of the reasons why this happens is that focusing more on others takes a lot of the what-ifs off of ourselves.
It reminds you that your purpose should be stronger than your fears. Embrace your role in life; the life you were called to live.
Shifting the focus to others or your purpose, taps into transcendence; the greater good.
She Buried Her Husband
As a little girl, I remember sitting on my great-grandmother’s lap and begging her to tell me stories of the Wild West and especially their journey from the then territory of New Mexico to Arizona.
I found out that the smoke that they saw in the distance that day in April of 1880 was what is now known as the Alma Massacre. An Apache raiding party had just attacked the small settlement and killed 41 people.
Despite my Great-Grandfather’s warranted fears, they chose to go on, past the smoke, past the dangers and they are recorded as being the first settlers in Springerville, Arizona.
And by the way, my Great-Grandmother did end up burying her husband but not on that trip. She didn’t bury him until they had been married for decades, had at least 6 children and countless grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren.
The brave young woman, who chose to embrace bravery and forge forward on that trip back in 1880, lived to be 106. She certainly lived out her greater cause, her greater purpose.
Covid19 is preparing you to live out your greater cause; your greater purpose as well. You also have a choice; will you forge past the danger you see and choose to be brave?
My hope is that this story and these tips will empower and embolden you for whatever it is you are facing.
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – Benjamin Mee
Make it a CALM day,
Always remember – Nothing is Impossible