You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
- Eleanor Roosevelt
(Photo taken: Singapore Zoological Gardens)
Developing courage is not just for doing heroic acts such as rescuing a child from a burning apartment or putting our lives on the line to do rescue work in the aftermath of a natural disaster in a developing country. However, we do not have to wait for a catastrophe or a dramatic event to occur in order for us to develop courage. Where there is fear on a daily basis, there are opportunities for us to demonstrate courage.
Courage is needed whenever you are feeling helpless, vulnerable, ashamed, and weak. You leak energy. Your negative emotions are really indications that you are experiencing fear. Instead of drowning in these, use them as feedback on the need to develop courage.
Daily Adventures for Developing Courage
Courage is needed for everyday challenges such as
- speaking up,
- standing for your values,
- saying “no” to unreasonable demands,
- admitting to a bad mistake,
- facing up to your fierce boss, and
- giving a presentation.
Then, there are also other challenges such as
- weathering through a divorce,
- going for a job interview,
- moving to a new location,
- leaving an abusive relationship and so on.
These are the daily adventures that help you in your transformational process from feeling small, limited and helpless to someone who embraces change, possibility and leadership.
Most certainly, courage is needed when you are working towards your vision. I was happy to hear the big dreams of the participants to my Vision Board Mastery Workshop last weekend. A number of them shared about changing the world and touching lives. Awesome…but it would mean that they would have to first shift to a zone of discomfort, which is where they will experience growth.
Develop Courage To Move Out of Comfort Zone
It can sound scary. So there may be a tendency to cling on to the safe harbor. You are already in a comfort zone. It would seem as if you are taking a huge risk with trying out anything new. You are afraid of rocking the boat. Then, there is the fear of rejection that you need to contend with if others are resistant to your new state of change.
In letting go of the known, you need to embody the spurt of energy that propels you forward. If you are hoping to manifest for changes in your life, then you will need to embody the energy of courage. Change can only happen when you are open to letting go of the old . If you grasp too tightly to the old, there is no space for rejuvenation and renewal. You need to move away from the harbor in order to explore new lands.
Summoning courage does not mean wishing for the absence of fear. Courage is the spurt of energy that motivates you into action, even in the presence of fear. A gathering momentum of strength dissolves the energy of doubt once you kick into gear. It may not be anything big that you are attempting to do. What is more important is that you are letting go of the known to venture anew.
Tips to Developing Courage
1. Work On Your Beliefs
Investigate into your beliefs to find out what is truly holding you back. Recall childhood events that may have led you to making these beliefs. Understand that these beliefs no longer serve you if you are interested in reclaiming your power.
Ask yourself: what is the worst that can happen? As you de-mystify and work through your fear, it is possible to find out that there is little that you need to be concerned about. Your fear appears to be trivial in the end.
Thus, it would seem as if there is not much point to worrying. Worrying excessively about how others will think of you proves to be futile. Everyone else is too busy with their own worries, to be concerned over yours.
3. Take Action
Courage is cultivated through taking action. You cannot just think courage. Nothing is going to happen if you are just trying to will yourself from your couch. You will continue to be stuck.
You need to act to overcome your fear. Your action may put you in discomfort but you have to just do it. Action is energy movement that shifts you out from being stuck. As American Baptist preacher, Vance Hayner, once said, “The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.”
4. Take Baby Steps
If aiming for the ideal dream seems too big a step for you, then consider taking baby steps daily. No one is born being able to achieve what seems impossible and all in one go. Neither is one always fully equipped to handle the vagaries of life.
Hone your courage through making even small daily decisions. Every baby step counts. Just think of it this way: if you cannot muster enough courage in small ways, it can be more difficult for bigger ones.
Soon you will discover that less courage is needed because you have already gained mastery. What used to stump you is no longer a mystery. You no longer turn pale, sweat profusely or feel as if you are paralyzed. You are able to move decisively forward.
6. Align with An Ideal Picture
It can drive you nuts if you allow fear to overwhelm your mind. Even as you weigh the good and bad over your situation, you become indecisive. Your mind is like a yo-yo. You are not grounded.
By aligning with an ideal picture, you are better driven to embody courage. You flood your senses with a pleasurable dream – you in more positive and empowered state. That is why making a vision board helps. You have a visual mental picture that keeps you reminded. Thereafter, persevering and persisting becomes easier.
7. Share About Your Fears
Fear loses its hold over you when you become public about your secret. Your secret can be something about your past. By sharing about it, you may just discover that you are not alone (likely to be the case) and that your secret is not such a big deal after all.
Courage blazes your path to greater authenticity. So you are up to the challenge, I recommend sharing some of your secrets with others. Maybe it is something embarrassing about you, things that you did do or things that you didn’t do that continue to make you feel bad about yourself. There is no faster way of getting over your social discomfort and revealing the inner core of who you really are.
Courage of the Cowardly Lion
Remember the Cowardly Lion in the story of the Wizard of Oz?
The lion had gone in search of courage.
What did he learned?
He learned that courage was not something to be searched externally.
Courage was found from within.
And so it is the same for all of us too. You have to find courage within yourself. You will ultimately discover how very powerful you can be. As you develop more and more courage, you will find it easier and easier to achieve your highest potential and lead a life of freedom.