Hallie* is a sophomore in college with a bright future. I’ve been coaching her since she was a high school senior and know her well. She’s a hard worker with a fierce determination to make her dreams come true. She wants to be a doctor and is paving her way to one of top med schools in the country. Recently, she was offered a summer internship at a very reputable hospital. She would be able to learn from experienced doctors and work alongside older med students. While this was a huge honor, it triggered tremendous fear. When she told me about it, her nerves showed. She said there would be a lot of pressure. She would have to do her best or her future internship opportunities would be ruined. She was nervous to work with older, more experienced interns. “I don’t know if it’s right for me,” she said shakily. “The stakes are so high. I don’t think I can do it. And, all those older students will be so much smarter than me.” She shuddered with intimidation. I seized this opportunity to coach Hallie into her courage zone.
I explained to her that unlike the familiar comfort zone, the courage zone is where growth happens, dreams are realized, new wisdom is gained, and meaningful relationships form. While the comfort zone is easy and safe, the courage zone is unfamiliar, sometimes risky, and usually challenging. Stepping into the courage zone requires work but it’s well worth it.
Hallie wondered how she could get into her courage zone.
The first step is overcoming the powerful obstacle of fear: the fear of failure, judgment, or that one mistake will “ruin everything.” Most fear is imagined and comes from stories we unknowingly make up. For example, Hallie told herself that the older students would be smarter than her. Consequently, she felt intimidated and afraid of their judgment. She went on to tell herself that if she made one mistake at this internship, all future opportunities would be ruined. This story put incredible pressure on Hallie and fed her fear of failure.
When Hallie tuned into her fear stories, she was able to recognize they were fictional. There was absolutely no proof or guarantee that they would happen, yet when she believed them as fact, they held her back.
The good news is just as the mind can spin unhelpful fear stories, it can also create helpful, empowering narratives and focus on the truth. This is what breaks down the walls of fear and inspires the motivation to step into the courage zone.
After recognizing her fear stories, Hallie needed to start another effective practice- positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations are the key to minimizing negative thinking and banishing fear and self-doubt. They feed the brain constructive thoughts which create positive feelings and beliefs that encourage action.
Affirmations can be about past successes, future situations, or personal qualities. When practiced regularly, affirmations can boost self-esteem, decrease stress, and create new pathways in the brain that make it easy to say “yes” to the opportunities that await in the courage zone.
The positive affirmations that helped Hallie included:
- I am intelligent and hard-working. People see this in me and appreciate my efforts.
- This internship will be an amazing opportunity and open doors. I trust that I can figure things out and do my best.
- I have successfully handled many challenges in life and I know I can do hard things.
Honest and simple, these affirmations started to build up Hallie’s excitement and confidence. She accepted the opportunity and is eager to start.
Affirmations are game changers. In my Year in Focus Journal, you can read more about the benefits of affirmations and download a printable journal page for practicing positive affirmations so you can break down the walls of fear and step confidently into your courage zone!
Get your copy of a Year in Focus here.
Check out the free resources page for more inspiring affirmations.