Courage is the ability to do something, even though it might appear frightening at first. Do you ever read biographies of amazing people and feel in awe of what they have done? Does that awe sometimes make you feel a little despondent because you don’t believe you could be so brave, or accomplish so much despite the obstacles? Do you ever feel your life would be better if you could just muster up a little more courage to pursue your dreams or exit a poor situation? Do you want to be Dorothy but feel like the Cowardly Lion?
If so, a little more insight into these human qualities may help you to access them. We all have courage inside of us. It is as human as the blood that courses through our veins. Courage is like an inner reservoir we can draw on when we need to, although many of us only discover our courage when we are in a tough situation or someone we love is in danger. Bravery, on the other hand is the action, behaviour or outcome of courage; it’s the active facing of our fears so we can step into the unknown, or even into the known!
If you lack courage, here are my thoughts as a virtual life coach and therapist on what you need to know.
Courage – It’s Not What You Think
Perhaps the biggest hurdle we have to navigate to access our courage is identifying that we’ve been hoodwinked by TV, film and the media. They make us believe that bravery and courage are only required for ‘big’ acts: climbing mountains or rescuing small children from burning buildings. The courage and bravery we see on TV, or hear about on the nightly news, often creates an impossibly high bar that we see as relevant to ‘other people’ living ‘other lives’.
The truth is courage is much less dramatic. Anything that makes you feel slightly scared – even if it’s getting a spider out the bathroom without just killing it – will require courage, especially if you hate spiders! Learning to ski in your forties because your kids enjoyed a school trip and want to go with you this time requires a little courage. Depending on your personality, you may need to call on some bravery to meet new people or attend an interview.
Embrace Your Fear
I was skiing recently in the Alps and was on a ski lift going up the mountain. Next to me was Frasier, who was six years old and part of a ski school. We were chatting and I said, “Frasier, if I get scared at the top of the hill what would your advice be to me?” He thought about it for a minute, then turned to me and said, “Always face your fear!” Frasier was only six, but that’s great advice.
We are creatures of habit and we generally don’t like change that much. Change, by definition, is moving from something that’s known to something that’s unknown. Most of us prefer the known because there are no surprises there; it’s our comfort zone. But there is also no growth in the comfort zone. If we are to harness the power of courage to face difficult situations and make constructive change, we need to be willing to move into the challenge zone.
You Need To Exit Your Comfort Zone
If you are constantly in your comfort zone, how fulfilled do you feel? Sure, it’s a nice safe (some would say boring) place, but are you really doing what you want to do and being who you want to be if you are permanently ‘stationed’ there? To move into the next zone, we need to access the courage to push out beyond our comfort zone and into the challenge zone. But that push doesn’t need to move us into the panic zone. If you are spending too much time in the panic zone, it means you aren’t in control of what you are doing. The panic zone is almost as immobilising as the comfort zone, only it’s fear not comfort that’s driving the bus!
The key with change is incremental ‘stretch change’ that pushes you past what’s comfortable and easy, but not into being overwhelmed, fearful and panicked. Bring yourself back into what you know and/or what you need to do to find your own inner resources to fuel and power yourself in the challenge zone. Embrace the challenge! The challenge zone is where we learn, grow and develop as human beings. It’s where we find the impossible possible, and surprise ourselves by the strength of our convictions and the courage we can muster to see them through.
Start with small things that push you out of your comfort zone for a few minutes. The more you embrace the challenge zone as a playground for your own development, the braver you will become, and the easier courage will be to muster when you need it.
Find Out More
If you find you lack courage in certain situations, I hope the above advice has been helpful. Remember, if you would like any help or advice please get in touch. I offer virtual life coach sessions, and help my clients with a variety of issues. These sessions are available to international clients as well as those based in the UK.
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