Start Practicing Courage
During the 2011 Clean Start Challenge I stumbled across Kate Swoboda’s blog by way of @ chookooloonks and just knew she would be perfect to interview for the Clean Start Challenge. Kate is a life coach, teacher and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She supports women from around the world in making powerful choices and rocking out their lives. I asked her to share some advice for moms and women interested in pursuing their passions.
Kate Swoboda says:
My work, whether as a life coach or within my Courageous Living Guides, comes from the approach that what is needed when we want to shift something is not a 1-2-3 plan, nor a new to-do list to tick off, but rather a shift in some of the underlying patterns and stories (habituated thoughts/assumptions that “run” themselves again and again). When someone is making a shift into doing something new, there’s a sense of control in making a list and then ticking things off of the list — but I believe that the real work is the kind of work that emerges from a place that’s much deeper.
Here are my five invitations for anyone who wants to start practicing courage (which I define as “feeling afraid,” because no one gets out of that part), diving in anyway (because what would you do otherwise — remain stuck?), and transforming (because that’s what happens when we meet the edges of our safety zones).
1. BE your journey — rather than paddle furiously away from the places that displease us, we can BE our journey, claiming all of the choices, feelings, decisions that come with it. This isn’t the same as “giving up.” It’s about getting off of the hamster wheel of endless busy changes and instead sinking more deeply into accepting who we are and where we are at in our lives. This sort of practice provides a lot of clarity and presence when making big changes.
2. Keep the focus on yourself, keep the focus on the present moment, and remember that you are always in choice. We can’t change others, and we can’t change the past or predict the future, so we can work with what is before us right now. What is before us now is something that we’re in choice around — even if our finances aren’t ideal, we can choose the outlook we take. This sort of practice provides a structure for taking ownership of the changes you’re making.
3. Transform your relationship with your Inner Critic. Stop calling it a gremlin or monster; stop telling it to shut up and go away. See that the Inner Critic is a scared aspect of ourselves, and if you’re on the journey to love and accept yourself (and I hope you are), you can transform your relationship with your Inner Critic so that it is a respectful one. You can require respect from your Inner Critic, which is a concept that is a big part of my coaching practice and e-programs. This practice is enormously helpful during those moments when you’re experiencing a heavy dose of fear. Transforming your relationship with your Inner Critic stops you from giving up.
4. Create a stillness practice. It doesn’t have to be formal sitting meditation. Just create stillness and slowing down. What’s the point of going after dreams if the process is so harried and chaotic and fear-filled that it’s a challenge to enjoy them?
5. Believe in the power of five minutes. I know that it’s tempting to think that waiting for a big swath of time is the best route. However, taking just five minutes to jot down notes about that business plan, to get out of some creative energy, to sit quietly, to catnap, to have your stillness practice ... five minutes is valid. This is a practice that’s supportive of the moms and other busy people out there who feel pressure to juggle it all. You don’t have to “juggle it all” — you get to choose to take five minutes for yourself and make it a powerful experience.