Do you consider yourself brave? Neither did I. Not until I started to assess the world around me and decide that I was going to step up to the challenge of making it a better place. Where would I start? How would I do it? These are the questions you can ask yourself, as well. Asking the questions is not the difficult part, but answering them is.
The definition of bravery is: the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. I think that you can find a part of your life that falls into one of these categories. Most of you can relate to fears and difficulties because you face those on a daily basis. Some are big, some are little.
Yesterday, while at a water park with my family, I went on a water slide. I have a few rules about thrill rides of any kind. I do not like loops and I do not like dark. I thought I had been in this ride before, but when I entered the tube, I realized half way down that it was fully enclosed and dark! Even though it was only for a few seconds, I could not change it. So, I did the best thing and reminded myself that there would be light again in the near future.
So many times in life you are going to be stuck in a dark slide. It may be an illness, a financial demise, a broken relationship, abuse, or disappointment. You will only see dark and it will be scary. The only way to get through it is to remind yourself that there is light ahead. It may take time for your heart to mend, or to repair the damage, but you will because you do not give up. You are brave.
Martial arts taught me a lot about bravery. My first class was incredibly foreign to me. I looked around and thought that there was no way I could ever do any of it. It was insecurity creeping in, and it required an element of personal bravery to try it. It was one of the first times that I decided to push through and not give up because of fear or worry. It was a pivotal moment in my life that changed who I was forever.
As a beginner I discovered many truths about martial arts. One is that you are capable of so much more than you ever realized. Another is that when you learn anything step by step, starting at the beginning, you can succeed. Of course, I also discovered that confidence is the key to success in many, many situations, including self-defense, professional advancement, living a positive life, and more. The kicking, punching, and blocking were the significant physical training, but this elevated layer taught me everything that I needed to know about life.
I have taught many students who also had to bring bravery to the table. Some of the children had Cerebral Palsy, some were hearing impaired, some had physical difficulties, and many had attention disorders. As children, they had a healthy sense of bravery. They wanted to come to class to learn and see their friends. They were accepted and treated equally by their peers. Their bravery through martial arts will carry them through when they need it the most.
No, I am not brave all the time. Who is? You and I will always allow fears or insecurities to stop us from being who we want to be, on occasion. But, we also know that if we choose a braver choice that we may reap rewards far greater than we imagined. I will unlikely choose the fully enclosed water slide in the future. It is still not my favorite. At least I know what it felt like. I know that if I have to face bigger fears that my martial art mindset will take over and I will find a way.
My bravery in deciding to learn a martial art has taken me in directions I would have never imagined. Today, I spend time inspiring thousands of people who read my blog, my book, or connect with me on social media. Every step of the way requires a level of bravery, and I often have to remind myself that none of it would be possible if not for the first step which was learning a martial art.
Superheros are brave, but so are so many people in your life, and so are you. If you take the time to think about it, you will quickly realize whose bravery has affected you and in what way. These examples can guide you when you need them the most. You will begin to recognize that you can choose bravery, too, and when you do, you start to reach your dreams and goals.
Be brave. Do not let situations control you, but control them. Decide what outcome you want. How do you want to feel? Focus on how the moment can be a positive one. Use your confidence to get you through. Stand tall and face the challenges with the understanding that you can break through. Always, always, see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. She was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July, 2017. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at themartialartswoman.storenvy.com.