“What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?” I asked this question on my personal Facebook page recently, and was met with interesting answers. In the past I had viewed courage as something that only brave, valiant men did when going into battle. I looked at courage as loud, angry, fierce, and bold. I looked at courage as intense action without fear.

I have a different view of courage now, and the responses I received on my Facebook post echoed this new definition of courage. And while the comments varied in theme, there was a common thread among many of them: having the courage to stop.

Stopping isn’t failure. It’s courageous. 

More than once, folks stepped up to say that the most courageous thing they did was to stop something: an unfulfilling job, an abusive relationship, an addiction, an unhealthy marriage, a negative cycle. I was astounded! In our culture, stopping or ending something can often seem like a failure. We are taught to see things through, fight until the end, make it work. We are applauded for creating something, trying something new, or “going for it.” We are also taught to cover up our needs and desires to those around us. We are taught to be grateful for what we have and make the most of it. Ending something – it would seem – is a big no no. So, then, it can be quite scary to stop something. Which is why it’s often courageous to do so.

Courage has famously been described not as the absence of fear, but of taking action in the face of fear. Some quotes say “conquering” fear. But I don’t know about that. To me, having the courage to stop something may feel like you are walking with fear and you’re boldly looking it in the eye while you go on and do that scary thing. I like to say to myself, “I feel the fear, and I do it anyway.” Stopping something when you know it may bring up snickers and judgement from others, and whispers of “I guess they just couldn’t make it work” is a little rebellious and a whole lot courageous. And it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

On the Other Side of the Fear

Every single person who shared their courageous ending to something did so with great pride and joy. They admitted it was difficult and scary and even led to some immediate despair, and were still glad they did it. Mostly because what was waiting on the other side in the long run was health, happiness, fulfillment, authenticity, and love. In other words, what was on the other side was hurray. I use the term “hurray” for many reasons, and ultimately my favorite version is “your personal definition of fulfillment and joy.” That means hurray on your terms, based on your values, and based on your truth.

In The Hurray Clubhouse, a previous group coaching I offered, our community used The Hurray House Method™ as a framework to build a life according to their hurray (or their vision of success and fulfillment), and clear out and renovate the parts of their lives (or rooms in their “house”) that are not aligned with that hurray. I still use this framework with coaching clients to this day!

One of the themes we explored was courage, and one of my favorite practices that I share is Stop, Start, Sustain. This is a version of ERC, or Eliminate, Redecorate, Celebrate – a cornerstone practice of The Hurray House Method with my coaching clients. And the first step is imperative. So often we try to start new things, or change up our actions, or create a new project when we want change. And creating things is so vital for transformation, for sure! But that first step of “Stop”, or “Eliminate” is often overlooked. Before we begin or add something we need to slow down and lovingly let go of what’s not working or serving us first. We then have the ability to create space for the new, more aligned opportunities to come into our lives.

Most often with my coaching clients we work on Eliminating old judgements, stories, misunderstandings, or limiting beliefs within us. We use the emotions that have come up and get to the belief underneath and {using one of several practices} lovingly let go of the beliefs that do not belong or are tripping us up. This sets us up to then stand in the truth and take brand new actions in the world. It’s powerful stuff!

Stop! Hurray time. 

So take a moment and ask yourself: what do I have the courage to stop? 

Is there a belief that is no longer serving you? Is there a way you are treating yourself, your body, or those around you that isn’t aligned with who you truly are and what you really desire? Is there a relationship with someone that is not supporting your version of hurray? Work from the inside, out.

Note: Honestly, it’s courageous in this culture to just stop and breathe. Slowing down, stopping the hustle, and going from Hurry to Hurray is a massively courageous thing to do.

And of course, owning who you are, being vulnerable, and authentically showing up as yourself will always remain the most courageous (and important) journey we take. I say journey because courage is not a one time thing. While “stopping” something might sound definitive and ultimate, it will require courage over and over again to continue on the new path or deal with the changes as a result of ending something. Courage continues.

I always suggest working from the inside, out for long lasting change. That means dealing with your own beliefs and self-talk first. Then in your relationship and actions with your physical body and what’s under your clothes. And finally on the outside of you in your relationship with others, your work, and how you appear in the world (etc). Doing so this way leads to the kind of transformation that really sticks, so you don’t wind up in the same old cycle again and again.

Where will you be?

Sometimes the bravest thing is to stop. I wonder, if you stopped doing, thinking, or being something today what effect that would have on your tomorrow? What about in 1 year? And what about in 10 years? Summon your courage and take the first step today.

Your Turn: What is the most courageous thing you’ve done? What is an example of being courageous and stopping something in your life? How do you define courage? Share with me on IG @hurraykimmay!

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Credits: Images of Kimmay by Brooklynn Alexander in Woodward, Oklahoma at The Ranch at Woodward. As always, no airbrushing or altering! Ever.