10 Rules Series: Be Brave (Part 2)

We are rounding the bend and heading into the last big weekend of summer, and I cannot express how happy that makes me.


I won’t bore you with another peroration on why I love fall so much, but let’s just say that it has very little to do with pumpkin spice and a whole lot to do with school supplies, crisp mornings, knitting season, and reasonable temperatures.

Last weekend was our last obligatory trip of this crazy season. Our niece got married, so we attended the wedding, visited with family, caught dinner with our son and my bestie and her hubs on the way back, and headed home yesterday. I can’t say I’m exactly done with traveling for the year, but the bulk of the craziness is done. I think. (Yes, I realize that statement actively tempts fate.)

Narrowing Down the Fear

In part one of my ruminations on Rule #5: Be Brave for my 10 Rules for 2023 series, I confessed that I hesitate to push myself in marketing and promotion because of fear, but that I couldn’t quite narrow down the exact fear. I think I’ve figured it out, and I think there are two particular fears that keep me from pushing myself to grow in a lot of areas.

So what are these big boogeymen?

The first one is fear of confrontation. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like arguing with anyone, and I will go out of my way to avoid it. There’s the general discomfort of argument at play here, but more than that, it’s that I get flustered very easily. I can have all the right comebacks and arguments ready in my head, and I will promptly forget every one of them as soon as any argument gets slightly more intense. I also have this issue where I need to sometimes process ideas out loud to come up with positions, but that can lead to confrontation with people who assume that I’m settling on something rather than just working out an idea.

I’d have been awful on a debate team is what I’m saying.


This first fear leads directly into the bigger and more significant fear: fear of embarrassment. To me, the absolute worst thing about getting flustered or losing an argument is appearing stupid. I know I’m not stupid, so when I appear that way, it knocks my confidence for a loop, and embarrassment sets in. Marketing and promotion aren’t as confrontational as an argument, but there is still the risk of embarrassment. Same with trying new skills: the risk of embarrassment is built right in.

It’s these two fears–confrontation and embarrassment–that seem to paralyze me into inaction.

So how do I overcome them? I have a few ideas…

But First, A Definition

Now that I’ve narrowed down my fear a little better, I think I can better define what “bravery” looks like for me at this stage of my life.

The thing is… I have no intention of pursuing big, audacious, courageous acts. My husband has asked me several times if I’d join the volunteer fire department with him, and for so many reasons, the answer is a resounding no.


Same with other things that might seem big and bold. I am not a hero or a big changemaker, I don’t want a huge spotlight shining on me, and I don’t care about accolades.

The things I have as goals right now are more about stepping outside of my comfort zones and growing as a person than any attempts at glory. I need to remember that for me, driving my husband’s pick-up (which is huge and terrifying to me) is something that’s honestly pretty low-stakes. It is, however, outside of my comfort zone. Same with signing up for a race–I’m not going to change the world or be on the evening news if I sign up for a 5k or 10k (at least, I hope not), but I will stretch outside my comfort zone.

Other things that might stretch me outside my comfort zone:

  • More overtly promoting my books
  • Pushing myself to learn new skills
  • Facing confrontation instead of avoiding it
  • Pushing back more forcefully when my boundaries are threatened

This is terrifying.

A Few Baby Steps Toward Bravery

Over the course of the last week, I’ve tried to think of ways to break “bravery” down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This is so very typical of me. I tend to need small, concrete, achievable steps in order to make any progress on anything.

But it’s tough to break down something like “bravery” into steps. I can break exercise goals down into manageable chunks or minutes per day or whatever, but how does one “habitize” something like courage or bravery?

Here are some things I’m going to try:

  • Employ grittiness: It’s really easy for me to do things like make one call or send one e-mail and then stop. Or I might attempt one new exercise and stop, or try a new skill once and then stop. I think my rule should be to do something at least three times before giving up or trying a different way. That number may change depending on the skill or topic, but I think three times is a good foundational number.
  • Do “post-mortem” assessments: When we were doing scout stuff, we used the “start, stop, continue” assessment after every campout. I asked the girls what we should stop doing, what we should start doing to make campouts better, and what we should continue doing. This process was super helpful, even when suggestions were silly or frivolous, because they started conversations and encouraged improvement and learning. I need to do that for myself after every stretch assignment.
  • Differentiate between fear and other emotions: Am I afraid of rejection if I make those marketing calls? Is it imposter syndrome that’s tripping me up? Am I just being lazy? If I’m just being lazy, I can overcome that. That falls into more of a behavior category. If I’m afraid or rejection or suffering imposter syndrome, then my self-talk probably needs to change.
  • Reframe the internal talk: I struggle with the concept of “self-talk,” but I do think there is something to the idea that we do get into internal spirals that can become habits or negative self-talk. For me, this shows up a lot with with fiction promotion. Say I think about calling bookstores to see if they’ll carry my books. I immediately start to picture my work on a shelf with better-known names, and imposter syndrome sets in, because who am I to share a shelf with someone like (fill in the blank)? Then I think of all the reasons a book store wouldn’t want my work. This process very quickly turns into not calling anyone at all. I need to reverse it all and remind myself that only I can write my stories, and publishers have different goals than I do, and self-publishing has been a tremendous equalizer, and indie bookstores know what it’s like to be… well, indie, and after all, my stories are no worse than a lot of traditionally published books–and a far sight better than some!

So much of the problem is that I’ve gotten very comfortable sort of coasting along without really pushing myself into new territory. But the problem is that eventually, you stop coasting and come to a stop, and the stop is usually in the mucky lowlands.

I think it’s time to baby step out of the muck and start climbing again.


This is most definitely not the end of this journey, but I think it’s a fairly promising beginning.

Until next week… Be brave, y’all.




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