Courage is a state of mind and body, which is essential to living a life you love. For me, life is like being on a hero’s journey. There will be fire-breathing dragons to slay and obstacles on the way and this is where courage comes in! Courage doesn’t mean you are not afraid, but that you are learning to move forwards despite that feeling. Today I’d like to share with you how you can cultivate courage to help you lead a truly fulfilling life.
In Psychology Today, Melanie Greenberg describes 6 aspects of courage that help us through life:
1. Feeling afraid and still choosing to take positive action
Courage is all about feeling the fear and choosing to take positive action anyway because for some things in your life you may never feel 100% ready. Fear is a natural response of your body when you feel under threat in any way. It sends cortisol, a stress inducing hormone, throughout the body’s nervous system, making the body go into survival mode. It’s a very natural response, however our culture has taught you to fear fear itself and so you may decide to avoid certain situations that feel uncomfortable.
Instead of avoidance, start to teach yourself that fear is ok in fact you don’t have to fight it! Instead start to see it as a natural response to a perceived threat which you can learn to soothe and transmute into courage. There’s a great proverb that describes fear and courage as brothers. This is a good reminder that whenever you feel fear, courage is very close at hand – hurrah! So stop waiting to feel 100% ready. Courage is enough to take that first step forwards, fear or no fear!
2. Listening to (and following) your heart
That quiet little voice within you knows just what you need. It takes courage to actually listen and then to take action and the rewards are boundless!
“And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005
Sometimes we need to change paths and that’s ok. Someone somewhere reminded me once that it is better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. In my experience, listening to that little voice is always worth it so be courageous enough to step up to the edge of uncertainty and listen to your heart.
3. Persevering in the face of adversity
Taking the courageous path isn’t always easy. Most likely it means stepping away from others expectations and trusting yourself. Lately I’ve become more and more inspired by the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Courage is about making peace with the idea of failing or making a mistake. It’s all part of growth. If you are too scared to make a mistake you will stop yourself from stepping into the ‘arena’. Choose to go into the arena anyway, persevere and be determined because this is what courage is all about.
4. Standing up for what is right
“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes” — Maggie Kuhn, Social Activist.
While you are on your hero’s journey and following your heart there will be plenty of opportunity to stand up for what you believe is right or true. You may need to be assertive, voice your views, concerns or take positive action for what you believe in and this is where courage comes in. Even though it isn’t easy to step up and stand up for what you believe in, the confidence you will gain will help you in all areas of your life.
5. Stepping out of your comfort zone, expanding your horizons even though it’s unfamiliar
It’s a human urge to keep things safe and comfortable. However, keeping things safe and comfortable is a sure recipe for no growth, fewer rewards, and stagnation. If you want a fulfilled and joyful life stepping out of your comfort zone is where it’s at! Here is a wonderful quote, which I often use when I’m resisting moving outside my own comfort zone.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” — Lord Chesterfield
Be ok with those feeling of unfamiliarity, the more you move outside your comfort zone the easier it will be. Ask yourself do you want a life or restriction of expansion? This question usually does the trick for me!
6. Facing challenges with faith
We need both the light and the dark to grow, learn and develop new ways that better serve us and it’s when we are in the dark that we need the most courage! This means cultivating faith and trust that the light will come again. Have faith in change. That’s the one thing we can be certain of! Things do change. Are you confident that day follows night? If so, have faith that joy will certainly follow a challenge and keep moving forwards.
I really believe courage is like a muscle, which you can strengthen. Just as you wouldn’t go into the gym for the first time and lift the heaviest dumbbell, you don’t have to begin building courage by sky diving! People often think that courage has to be big like this, but actually it’s those smaller daily acts of courage, which will be significant to you. That’s because this is a deeper level of courage. It makes you stronger and more resilient each day and makes you fall in love with being you and living a life of your creation.
If you have any questions please contact us – we would love to hear from you!