When I was first introduced to the concept of 20 seconds of courage I was doing it pretty tough, it was about a week after my father was first assaulted and I was drowning in what to do next.
A friend of mine Sharyn Swan shared the story of how she had first heard the concept described in the movie “We Bought A Zoo” basically the concept is that if you just take 20 seconds of ‘insane’ courage (read that as just 20 seconds from your life to face your fears) and do what needs to be done you can do it and its all over in 20 seconds.
OK, easy enough, I thought I’d give it a go after all 20 seconds sure I could do that. And to my amazement I could! I managed to plough through a trillion small details and confronting calls and tasks that had to be done and I survived and it felt relatively easy. I didn’t even notice how long it was taking me to do some of the tasks, I always started with the mantra “OK I only need 20 seconds to do this, then its over. Deep breath, here we go!”
In no time I was approaching everything with this mantra and dealing with things I had been avoiding. I even introduced it to my soccer team, in 2012 we were placed pretty low on the ladder in our league, but I calculated if we played well we could have a shot at making the finals. Which at the time seemed like a far off pipe dream.
In our pre-game talk, I shared how the concept of 20 seconds helped me in dealing with my father’s case and suggested we could apply it to our game when we felt tired. During the game we could say to ourselves and to one another “come on just 20 seconds”, we did, and like a Hollywood blockbuster we started playing like a team of champions and won our game propelling us into the finals. We didn’t make it to the big game, but that day we were champions. It was our grand final, we had achieved something beyond what we thought possible, we came together, we urged one another on with our mantra of “come on just 20 seconds”. It consolidated us as a team and it gave each of us something greater than ourselves to focus on.
The lessons from that time have never left me, and only yesterday I was faced with using the 20 seconds mantra to confront yet another matter in my father’s ongoing case. I was in a position where I felt helpless and at the affect of ‘the justice system’ I was starting to become anxious and stressed about it.
In fact I was beyond anxious and stressed, I had started to move into cranky, unreasonable and bombastic.
I didn’t want to be that person and it was sitting uneasy with me so I kept asking myself how could I change this? Then I remembered the 20 seconds of courage story. I picked up the phone and called the person who had the power to facilitate something and I told them how I was feeling and asked what could be done?
After I got all of my request out, I burst into tears. They were tears of relief, tears I did not even realise I had that were sitting just below the surface. As I reflect now, I am aware that if I had continued to avoid it, kept stewing on my thoughts of what was ‘not right’ or continued to tell a plethora of others (read into that … my patient and understanding friends listening to my whinging and had no power to do anything). Then no good could come from that! I’ve been down that cranky and unreasonable road before and its not a version of me that I like or want in our community (the last thing our community needs is another anger person!).
The best thing that came from the 20 seconds I used was no matter what happened from that point forward I had spoken my mind to the person that could do something about it. And right there my friends is the Oprah AHA moment. If we continue to ignore our feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment, cranky and unreasonable we end up in pain of one type or another. Some of us lash out at those closest to us, some of us destroy physical things, some of us turn to drugs, alcohol, food or other addictions. Harboring or denying these feelings without taking steps to speak with the people that can take action or help will only destroy us. Inevitably avoidance causes pain for us and those we love.
The upside of my story is 30 minutes later I received a call to tell me that while the situation could not be changed the timing of it could be. This suited me perfectly, it immediately relieved my stress and anxiety. I have no power over our justice system, but I do have power and responsibility over how I feel and what action I can take. I asked the right person a direct question and I got a positive resolution. (Not a perfect one, but one I can live anxiety free with)
I’ve been reflecting on it ever since and all it took was that 20 seconds of courage to ask the question. It’s hard to describe the feeling of freedom, power and relief I now have.
What could you do with 20 seconds of courage?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts
Keep Smiling, Your Friend
Sue 🙂 x