Cultivating courage is not a choice reserved for a brave few; it’s an option open to anyone with a passion for creating their own life experience.
Perhaps you think of a firefighter or soldier; someone bravely fighting a battle with a life-threatening disease, or possibly someone rebuilding their life after a catastrophic accident.
But courage has many faces. If you are struggling with depression, getting out of bed in the morning is courage; leaving a successful career to strike out on your own requires courage, and if you’re painfully shy, that first time you speak up at a meeting takes great courage.
True courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s feeling and acknowledging the fear and moving forward anyway, and it’s an attribute that can benefit us in almost every area of life …
- Stepping outside your comfort zone requires courage!
- Making hard choices requires courage!
- Standing up for what you believe in requires courage!
- Asking for what you want requires courage!
The only thing greater than power of the mind is courage of the heart. ~Author Unknown
The Nature of Courage
The courage I’m talking about is the ability to reclaim the power we unwittingly give to any number of imaginary fears that keep us safely sheltered within the boundaries of our personal comfort zone.
The insidious problem we unknowingly foster when we give in to fear is the sense of “relief” we experience; because in reality what we’re creating is a type of psychological reward system that is reinforcing avoidance behavior. So each time you choose to give in to a fear, you are literally conditioning yourself to make it even more likely that you will avoid facing that fear in the future. Depressing isn’t it?
So what if you challenge yourself to look at fear from a different perspective? Rather than focusing on the fear of what you stand to lose, learn to focus on what you stand to gain by taking action. This simple yet powerful shift in mindset can completely change your perception of the situation and leave you feeling more courageous and in control of your life.
More Strategies to Help You Build Courage
- Name your fear: To begin reclaiming power from your fear you must put a name to it. Start by picking one thing you are afraid of doing or facing and in as much detail as possible write down how it makes you feel. What is the worst that could possibly happen if you choose to face your fear and do this thing? Then write down the benefits of facing the fear. Keep in mind that fear is a tricky rascal and will naturally amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, so you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.
- Keep exercising your courage muscles: Courage is a daily habit and the more you allow yourself to feel the fear and nudge yourself to face even small uncomfortable experiences, the more courageous you will become. And I’ll tell you another secret … because our fears often blind us to new experiences, as you become more courageous you’ll be amazed at how opportunities for growth will begin to appear that you may never have otherwise noticed!
- Peel away labels: Without even realizing it you may have labeled yourself in limiting roles such as, “I am afraid of change”, “I’m not happy, but this is the best I can do.” Only you can change your story to reflect a new reality … “Yes, it is scary but I owe it to myself to make the most of my life and I CAN do this!”
- Cultivate emotional resilience: Increasing your capacity for emotional resilience is about so much more than coping with a crisis. It’s the ability to quickly bounce back from unexpected detours, confidently minimize the noise and stress of day-to-day living and creating a stronger, more fulfilling life.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~Anaïs Nin
Whatever you do, don’t try to talk yourself into believing that you have to be fearless before tackling a new challenge! Fear can only rob you of your dreams, motivation, and strength if you let it. Cultivating courage is not a choice reserved for a brave few; it’s an option open to anyone with a passion for creating their own life experience.
Embrace your inner strength; it is your outer foundation …
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Emotional Resilient Living is about embracing the power you have to create your own life experience, and my role is to provide insight, focus and inspiration for the journey. If you’re on that path now, or have decided you are ready to take the first step, I hope you will consider joining our growing community of ERL Insiders.