Building Confidence in Your Courage

Building Confidence in Your Courage

This month we are talking about courage, and today we are talking about building confidence in your courage. We don't realize how courageous we are in the midst of survival and everyday juggling of our responsibilities. In fact, instead, sometimes we focus on the negatives. We don't give ourselves enough credit that what we are doing is actually courageous.

How do we stop being so afraid and feel more in touch with the unseen courage that we already have day in and day out?

What's one way that you've felt that you had courage this week?

There was a situation with Jax and his dad that I witnessed where Jax was upset and his dad got upset that Jax was upset, which made Jax even more upset and then made him feel bad for being upset. And it was all round and round. I had to step in at that moment. When his dad walked away, I looked at Jax, got eye level with him, and said, “This is not your fault. This is not you; your dad can choose how he responds. It is not your responsibility to manage his feelings.” We had to talk about it. I feel good about not only how I handled it, but also being able to have the courage to recognize what was happening and be able to speak up and address it and help him navigate through it.

Single parents are courageous, but a lot of times we don't see it. We don't feel it, we don't think that we are. Today we're going to cover three main points related to this topic. The first one we're going to talk about is the number one fear that keeps us from thinking that we're courageous. And number two, we're going to redefine courage. And three, we are going to share examples of how we can feel the courage that we already have.

What is the number one fear that you think keeps us from thinking that we're courageous?

The fear of failure can lead me to think that I'm weak, I'm not courageous. My fear of not getting it right, and not performing well enough can make me feel like I'm not brave. I'm not doing this well enough. And so, tying my own self-approval, even to the approval of others can be really crippling. And that fear can get in the way of me having confidence that I am a courageous person.

This is the number one thing that keeps us from feeling courage is the fear of failure. Single parents are pretty aware of our failures.  And so, day to day that can continue on and we feel like we're carrying this backpack of all the ways that we failed.

There’s also judgment. Probably the scariest thing for me that I'm learning and have learned to step into is saying what I need. I feel I've failed so many times in that arena that having the courage to do that after I've been beaten down so often that it's hard for me to get back up now and have the courage to be able to do that. Not only am I afraid of failing, but also the judgment that comes with it.  

If we're going to redefine courage, let's redefine failure. Because of failure, when I let myself think of it as an opportunity to learn or to know how not to do it next time or what can I do differently, it helps me to accept that getting it right doesn't always have to be the outcome.  I can learn what not to do next time. I can learn what I need to do differently. I can learn that I might need other resources. Failing doesn't always have to be catastrophic. It can actually be part of the pathway towards success and towards courage.

We could see failure as missing the mark of our expectations, which does not mean success is black or white. Success is what we perceive it to be.  And so, when we don't hit an expectation, whether it be something that we do or something that happens that we have no control over, that can feel like a failure because our expectations aren't met.  And so, yes, the number one thing that keeps us from experiencing courage is our fear of failure.

When we name our fear behind what we're thinking, it is really a missed expectation. It's an important step to help us stop being afraid. Another thing that keeps us from thinking that we're courageous is defining courage.

What are some misconceptions of what courage is?

We’ve read in children's books; we've seen in movies that a courageous person is typically a superhero type person or we read stories about someone who's curing cancer. We see the people of the year splattered all across and there's all these amazing things they're doing. Then there are first responders running into a fire. A huge misconception is that a courageous person has to be a big heroic person. Also, another is that you have to be bold to have courage. That stepping into the fire, speaking loudly and letting your voice be known. It doesn't require that everyday courage. Sometimes it's being quiet.

The whole idea that you can't learn courage, that, well, I just wasn't born a courageous person.
Because courage is a muscle that we can exercise. It can grow with time and with practice. We don't have to define it so narrowly as being this heroic, strong effort as much as daily reps. And that's what we're talking about today—everyday courage.

This topic is so important because, on a daily basis, single parents are exhibiting courage. It doesn't have to be big, bold things. It doesn't have to be saving the universe. It's showing up and being with your kids, honestly, waking up, walking into the unknown.  Being responsible for your children every single day, whether it's making them dinner, whether it's picking them up from school, figuring out what you're going to do if you get a call at work that they're sick and doing math homework.

But all of that on a daily basis is courage. We think courage is this lofty thing that we work towards, and we can work towards that. We can do the reps, but I think it also starts with us recognizing that we're actually already doing it. It is the everyday methods and processes that we go through that are really courageous. I can't stress this enough, and again, that's why this topic is important, when we get to Single Parent Day and we celebrate single parents, it really is heroic. And I will tell you that nobody on the outside if you haven't been a single parent can even comprehend how challenging it is.  

Doing life alone as a single parent takes a lot of courage. Taking your kids to the grocery store alone, that’s braving that thing alone. Having the wherewithal to give yourself time for self-care and putting some things on the back burner so that you can take care of yourself so that you can take care of your kids.  Those are things that really do take everyday courage, that with the right perspective, you can give yourself credit. The first time I traveled with Jax alone I was scared to death. It was the first year after the divorce, and he was five. I was so scared, but on the other side of it, so proud that I was able to do that on my own.  I took care of my son and kept up with him in the middle of an unknown city. That was a really big deal.

With older kids, everyday courage is learning to let go appropriately. As they need to have more independence and freedom and begin to exercise their own muscles of courage where I can't control everything and make it safe for them anymore.  Those thoughtful, purposeful, wise increments for me have taken an incredible amount of courage.

There are so many ways that I feel like single parents don't feel like they measure up. And that's why stepping into every day in the unknown is such a courageous move and it needs to be recognized. Here's why it's important not to just redefine courage, but to understand that you already have it. Understanding and embracing courage will actually help you feel more courageous. If you don't believe that you have it if you will always feel less than. It's harder to take that next step up to be brave. But when you can build it step by step, rep after rep, you will recognize you're already being courageous.  It's a whole lot easier to step into bigger, courageous things when you recognize that you already are courageous.

Single parents could intentionally write a list of ways that they're courageous every single day so they don’t miss it so they can see they are braver than they think they are. This topic is having confidence in your courage, not your ability to get courage.

I don't know that you can have courage without fear existing. Courage and fear are locked arms.  Because you have to do things that you’re afraid of doing.  

What are some more examples of everyday courage?

Asking for help and being willing to receive it takes a lot of courage.  Because if you have to admit that you have a need, you may be telling yourself you’re inadequate. Instead, it's okay, humans are needy, and we need each other. We're designed to need help. And so, I think that's incredibly courageous.

Vulnerability is courageous. Every single time you look at our app and you wonder, should I join a group tonight?  It takes courage to touch that button. Showing up in vulnerability is a huge act of courage.

It can be super simple. This is a daily struggle for me to decide what's for dinner. It is the most annoying part of my day. But just deciding what’s for dinner and figuring it out and then being brave enough to cook it, if you’re not good at cooking. So having the courage to even cook is a whole thing.

It does take a lot of courage to tell somebody how you feel. Telling your ex how they hurt you and or hurt your child. Just expressing your feelings takes a lot of courage. Sharing your dreams and aspirations is also courageous.

Prayer takes some courage. Being vulnerable and honest with God is courageous. Telling Him your dreams, aspirations, and desires.  

It’s courageous to approach the throne of grace with confidence. To boldly find mercy and help in your time of need. Why do I shrink back from that when God is so ready and so willing?  He’s perfect to go to.

Saying no to something is courageous. I don't like disappointing people. I'm a people pleaser, a recovering co-dependent, but also to say no to things complicates my life because usually, it feels like it has to be followed by an explanation or justification. So sometimes I'll just comply.  Not as much anymore, but in the solo parent days. It’s courageous to set a boundary. Being able to hold back and not give a reason why. To just say no and let your no be no.  

Saying yes to something takes a lot of courage too. It could be a date or starting a new job or career, leaning into more education, or even going in for an interview. Those things take a tremendous amount of courage.

Leading a solo parent group takes courage.

I've discovered that when God asked me to do something and I say yes to Him, no matter how afraid I am, it has helped me build so much courage. I have ended up saying yes to leading a small group back when I was in high school, and then leading a Bible study, and then leading a women's ministry, and then Solo Parent. The doors that God can open when He asks us the small things or small steps and to say yes to small things there's no telling where He'll take you.  Just saying yes to Him in small things is an incredible act of courage.

My entire career was not doing anything myself. It had nothing to do with my story. It had everything to do with songwriters and performers and putting them out there. And when I started thinking I'm going to start writing down some of my experiences, and that turned into a vlog that turned into a blog, that turned into a book. It's when you say yes to promptings that you might have in your heart, it takes a lot of courage. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Maybe it's taking up a new hobby but saying yes to those kinds of things can help build your confidence and courage. And when we demonstrate courage in those small everyday things, we are doing it in front of our kids. They’re watching us all the time.

Trusting yourself takes a lot of courage as well. Having the ability to listen to the internal promptings and follow it and trust it takes a lot of courage because what if you’re wrong?

The point in all of this is that you need to start giving yourself credit for your everyday courage because if you're a single parent, you are full of courage. This is important to uncover.


Fear of failure is the number one thing that keeps us from being courageous, from feeling courageous. We need to redefine what failure is.

Recognize that making everyday decisions is courageous.

Get a journal or an app and for a month, write down a way you exhibited courage, small or big.
Start keeping track of it. You'll see that you're actually actively doing this.  

Listener Question

Hi, I'm Aaron, a single dad. I know how hard it can be during the first few months. I've gotten to a pretty good place in my journey, and I want to support other single parents. I have some ideas, but I was curious, what do you think are some of the best ways I can use my experience to support other single parents?

The first thing we’re going to say is to join a Solo Parent group if you haven’t. If you’re already involved in a group, sign up to be a leader. We're always looking for more amazing single parent leaders who are heroes every single day.

There was a study done where people were asked to measure how steep a hill was as they were going to walk up it. And the perceived level of effort was much lower if they felt like they had a friend who was going to walk uphill with them. The friend didn't need to do anything. The hill remained the same, but as they looked at that hill, having someone with them as they went up made them feel like it was a lot less steep and there was less effort required. That study sparked other studies that went on to show that having someone with us in a non-directive, non-evaluative manner helped hard things seem less hard. Physical pain when you can hold the hand of someone, especially someone who's supportive reduces your perception of pain.

And so, Aaron if you just show up for single parents that are around you as a sounding board, as a safe place to listen and let them know your story so that they'll reflect back their own, that's an incredible way to support other single parents. And we do see it happening in our groups all the time.

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