What gives us Courage?
Where does it come from?
And there are different kinds of courage. Physical, emotional, moral, or disciplined courage.
The dictionary defines it as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Those attributes sound good, in theory.
Are some people born with it or can you nurture courage?
I believe we all have this character trait. Some people lead with it, while others call upon it only when absolutely necessary.
How do you conjure up courage, if it doesn’t come easy?
Here’s what I’ve noticed.
Sometimes finding our courage isn’t a choice, but rather a necessity.
1. Adversity is forced upon us … Necessity is the mother of all invention, right?
When faced with true adversity, our highest self takes the wheel. All the bullshit is stripped away, and things that once seemed to matter so much (what other people think of us, will I get fired, how many times you got to the gym this week), magically and completely cease to exist. If your child dies, or you are in a disaster situation like a boat sinking, you will do what you have to do to survive. However messy.
2. Feel such Passion / desire for something you WILL your way through all the obstacles:
I’ve always been envious of people who knew from the get go exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. Artists usually have this singular focus. They will do whatever it takes to make their art. Sleep on someone’s couch, work 2 other jobs, and paint at night…whatever it takes.
3. Our integrity / beliefs feel more important than going along/status quo
Standing up for what you believe in, in face of opposition. Current relevant example of this: Donald Trump gets elected and the opposition is compelled to mobilize. You can find stark relief about your own values when faced with contrasting values.
I don’t think any of the above are easy, by any means. The grieving mother could quit on the rest of her family and quit on life in general. The artist could decide it’s too hard and quit on his passion. The liberal could quit by staying home and watching Netflix instead of bringing handmade signs to a march. It can be incredibly difficult to stay in your integrity.
But there are other times that call for courage, but it is less cut and dry. The motivation and the outcome feel more murky. And bravery eludes us.
How do you find courage when things in are life aren’t so awful as to be a crisis, but they aren’t so great either?
Maybe your job is slowing sucking our soul out of your body, but it pays incredibly well and allows some flexibility and you have a family to support.
Or you are in a relationship, which on paper, is perfect, and your family loves her, and you totally understand why your family loves her, and you are at that “marrying age”. But there’s this nagging feeling that you could be more yourself or more at ease or more connected with another person. You just haven’t met her yet.
In situations like these, the final place to find courage is to get really tired of the old way. When -even though the unknown is terrifying – it just HAS to be better than the current uncomfortable status quo. So you go for it.
But I believe there is a possibility of taking the leap sooner.
It’s by feeling all the fears and going forth anyway. People who do this ASTOUND me. I have such awe and admiration for this kind of bravery. They look fear dead in the face and decide they will still go for it. They quit that job. They move to a new city. They apply to grad school. They break up with said longtime companion. All with no guaranteed result.
While you can’t know the outcome, you CAN think about whether you are able to LIVE with the various outcomes. Will I lose all my money? Will people be disappointed in me? Will I fail? If I fail, what does that mean? Will I be alone? What would that feel like? What does starting over look like? Recognizing that you won’t die from taking the chance IS EMPOWERING. And in my experience, I’ve never regretted the trying. There was always a learning. Even in failing. It’s important to ask all the questions before jumping off the cliff, but I’ve usually found that whatever answers came to me, I could usually counter with “so what?”, laugh, and jump anyway.
Once you are resolved to make change (deciding is part of the jumping!) … you make a plan…using perseverance and persistence.
And there is real courage in fortitude.
If you break the challenge down into manageable, conquerable steps, you’ll be encouraged to keep going, and to not give up.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly – ask for support when taking your courageous steps. Lean on your trusted advisors. This could be family, friends, mentors, a therapist or a coach. Even God (or the Universe) is here to hold your hand on the path.
Feeling supported allows us to take the leap.
But you’ve got to be brave enough to ask for help. Hmmm….