GE­TAL­IFE

Nina Grunfeld’s three steps to be­com­ing coura­geous. Step 1

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Wellbeing -

Take a mo­ment to think about the last time you felt re­ally coura­geous. The time that you knew you were fright­ened and had a feel­ing of dread in the pit of your stom­ach. And yet you went ahead and did what­ever you were go­ing to do. I don’t nec­es­sar­ily mean phys­i­cal brav­ery, like bungee-jump­ing or fac­ing bul­lets. It could be any­thing you dreaded and over­came.

One time when I felt that real, vivid dread was be­fore I got mar­ried, al­though it now feels strange to think I was so fright­ened of the act. My par­ents were di­vorced by the time I was six and I never thought I would get mar­ried (what would be the point?). And yet I had been pro­posed to by some­one I re­ally loved. The de­ci­sion felt enor­mous and the fear was huge. I copped out. I got a let-out clause from my fi­ancé − a let­ter in which he wrote to tell me that he would let me have an easy di­vorce if I didn’t like be­ing mar­ried. Then, on the day of our wed­ding, I had a few drinks be­fore I was led to the al­tar.

The key point to that story is not my Dutch courage, but the fact that I now can’t imag­ine that I was ever wor­ried about the de­ci­sion. Twenty years later, I’m so con­fi­dent that it was the right choice that it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­cre­ate that fear.

And that’s one way to start be­com­ing coura­geous − by think­ing about all the other times that we’ve had sim­i­lar, im­pos­si­ble choices to make and how they’ve turned out all right.

Maybe you had a de­ci­sion to make about the per­son you’ve ended up mar­ry­ing. Maybe you ar­gued about hav­ing chil­dren or where you were go­ing to live. Didn’t those is­sues seem enor­mous at the time? And yet, look­ing back, it is hard to re­live those feel­ings.

Courage comes not only from un­der­stand­ing that we have done some­thing be­fore and so can do it again, but from mov­ing for­wards once we’ve de­cided on a course of ac­tion. It’s es­sen­tial to throw our­selves be­hind our de­ci­sion and get on with it − not to look back and say “I could still be sin­gle and hav­ing a good time,” but to be hap­pily mar­ried and think­ing of what life as a mar­ried cou­ple has to of­fer. It’s all about mov­ing on rather than liv­ing in the past.

Of course, not all of our de­ci­sions work. Cou­ples (such as my par­ents) do get di­vorced − an­other de­ci­sion, with yet more courage re­quired. But, again, once you’ve made up your mind to do some­thing, just get be­hind that de­ci­sion and work with it. The courage can be seen in the con­sol­i­dat­ing, not the re­grets.

Next week I’ll ex­plain how to make it even eas­ier to be­come coura­geous.

Nina Grunfeld is the au­thor of The Big Book of Us (Short Books). To or­der a copy for £11.99 plus £1.25 p&p, call Tele­graph Books on 0870 155 7222. Nina is the founder of Af­ford­able Life Coach­ing and runs life clubs and day work­shops (020 7222 2199; www.life­clubs.co.uk).

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