I have been crippled by fear and anxiety in my life. It's an enormous factor in my life! I didn't realize just how deeply fear was buried into my mind until I was near my twenties. But it has always been there. I should have known. I was scared to knock on my friend's door when I was 10. I had known her for years.
Perhaps you're completely different than me. Maybe you don't typically experience anxiety, and rarely feel afraid! Maybe you're a very confident person. Or you at least were never quite as afraid as me! I mean, my goodness, who's scared of knocking on their friend's door?
But has there ever been a time when you wanted something and fear held you back? A lifelong dream to be a dancer. Asking someone out on a date who you thought was "out of your league." Applying for a promotion and you weren't sure you were qualified for it. Or something even closer to home - you needed to confront someone close to you about a very important issue, but you didn't.
It's very fashionable these days to talk about mindset, goals, doing hard things and reaching for more. I love how much everyone is thinking about this! In a couple of years it might not be fashionable anymore - whatever. That doesn't change the fact that these topics are important. They have been important, and will stay important, forever. And I don't care how "fashionable" it is, because these things are integral to growth for everyone. These things promote happiness and fulfillment. These things take hard work. And these things take courage and bravery.
Bravery is required to build and shape relationships. Bravery is required to become an expert in your profession. Bravery is required to be a parent. Bravery is required to turn your hobby into your work. Bravery is required to join that gym class that you know will give you the accountability you need to be active. Bravery is required to ask someone to help you overcome something you're struggling with.
Bravery is required to change your life.
And here's the thing... You can't be brave if you're tired.
Let me clarify: you cannot stay brave if you're tired. If you do not sleep, if you do not nourish your body, if you do not take care of yourself, if you never truly rest, you cannot keep going.
The good news is, we all have the capacity to relieve tiredness and get rest. Rest comes in different shapes and sizes, and the rest that you need to stay energized may be different from your neighbor, or your best friend, or your spouse. But you need it. It's not really an issue of desire or preference here. You literally need this to be able to do what you need to do.
On A Very Practical Level
Have you ever noticed that everything feels arduous when you're tired? When you only get 4 hours of sleep, the smallest thing - even crawling out of your bed - seems like an enormous task. Showing up at work. Dealing with audacious boss who dares to give you an assignment at the crack of 9:00 am. Trying to work on a project after lunch, when you just want to nap. The barrage of deep, intellectual questions from your toddler after dinner.
If you've had a day when you weren't tired, you will recognize the difference immediately. If you can't remember a time when you didn't feel tired... well, you're in for a real treat when you get the rest and recovery that you need. Yes, need!
Because these tasks are just the basics! These things are not the brave things that make real change! These are the normal, everyday, simple tasks of life! No wonder so many of us don't reach for hard things. As if bravery wasn't tough enough when we feel energized, many of us don't even have energy!
On A More Scientific Level
I don't like reading factual studies and experiment reports very much. But I did read one that was extremely interesting (and very brief - my favorite!). You can read it by clicking here.
In brief summary: Two groups of college students were given cognitive tasks to perform, and then asked to rate themselves on their perceived performance. One group was sleep-deprived, one group was not.
As anyone could probably guess, the sleep-deprived students performed "significantly worse." But the really interesting part is... they rated their perceived effort level and performance level higher than the non-deprived students!
How often are we doing this too? How often are we stepping back, looking at our day, and thinking, "Wow! What a day! I worked so hard! It's like life is trying to beat me down, but all things considered, I'm crushing it right now!" But when we take a step back and objectively look at what we truly accomplished that day, it wasn't much. We got to work, did the bare minimum at our job, ate a fast food dinner, and did a load of laundry. Well, almost did the laundry. Didn't actually put it all away.
I'm very guilty of this. But that is not a hard day's work! It feels hard when we don't have energy! It feels hard when we are tired! You know this. You've have days that were filled with energy, and you accomplished more and felt much less strained!
We have got to get our energy back! And the good news is, getting our energy back is definitely possible! It could come from better sleep habits, from less toxic relationships, from better nutrition, from more exercise.... figure out what's holding you back!
*Please note: this is not the answer to deal with the energy drain of clinical depression. If that is your issue, a doctor needs to help you with this. It is not for you to do by yourself.
If we can barely keep up with our normal, daily lives, we should not be surprised if reaching for more seems impossible. We're not stuck here, fortunately! Energy is fluid. Where you are now does not dictate where you can be.
But how can we be brave if we're tired? And a bigger question... How can we reach for what we're made for if we're not brave?