This week, Mick Fanning, pro-surfer, punched a shark and saved his own life. While this wasn’t something he necessarily had planned on, as a surfer, I’m sure there has been some time in his life where he thought he might encounter a shark. Talk about guts. I’m sure his adrenaline was pumping and his survive-or-die triggers immediately kicked in. It’s truly incredible when you think about it. I think he had infinite courage in just seconds.
That kind of courage is based on the intensity of an event and our ability to respond to it in the moment, but what about the times when we’ve been considering something for awhile and fear it tremendously. How do we get the courage to move forward and conquer our fear or move forward toward our goal.
First, I think it’s important that we understand what it means. Cor means heart in Latin. Corage in old French became courage in Middle English, which meant the heart was the seat of feelings.
Wow. That’s powerful. The heart is the seat of feelings.
We all know that on an intellectual level perhaps, but do we really think of overcoming fear as an opportunity to address our most true feelings?
Courage is a word that can mean so many things to different people. For some it may be giving up an addiction. For others it may be having the courage to leave a toxic relationship or job. Perhaps it’s saying yes to a challenging promotion or starting your own business. Whether it’s an opportunity to grow or shed something that isn’t serving you, feelings of the heart are rooted there.
Courage. Grit. Bravery.
Whatever it is that you need courage to accomplish most likely feels impossible or difficult, because there is a fear attached to it. Over time, that fear – which is likely a perception – has become a fact. You see, when perception becomes fact that’s based on fear, we miss out on any opportunity to move forward and to step into our potential and power.
And the antonym of courage? Cowardly.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that is something that I never want to be called or associated with. To me that’s worse than ever being called the B-word. Being called a coward would mean that I didn’t rise to the occasion, or I didn’t pursue something I was called to do, or I let God or someone down. Ouch.
A dear friend sent me this quote and it says it perfectly:
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it is lethal.” – Paul Coelho
I love this.
Reword it like this: “If you think courage (overcoming fear) is dangerous, try staying the same and never trying anything new – staying status quo – it is lethal.” – me
So let’s get into action and stop this fear train in its tracks and get our courage ON! Here are 6 steps you can take to be more courageous right now:
- Name and feel your fear, then do something to take action toward it. Do what you’re absolutely afraid to do. At first, it may be terrifying, but afterwards, the confidence and self-affirmation that will result (and personal peace) will be freeing.
- Trust your intuition and have heart. Yes, our guts are our spirits telling us truth – every time. So, yes, your gut may say, this is scary, but that doesn’t mean your gut is telling you not to move forward. I mean, don’t go run off a cliff – that’s just downright unintelligent – but if your fear is just negative self-talk that is building up, then your gut is probably the physical reaction telling you to Go, Go, Go!
- Watch your words (the ones you say to yourself). I know it sounds cheesy at times, but how you talk to yourself, who you tell yourself you are, and what you begin to believe about yourself are mutually exclusive with your ability to truly put on your armor of courage.
- Do what’s right. If it’s a situation of injustice and you stand by, later you may regret that you didn’t take that act of courage to do the right thing. Humanity certainly needs more people who are willing to step into their fears and ultimately come out courageously for the greater good through a spirit of kindness, care, and community.
- Remember and visualize. Think of a time when you were afraid but did it anyway. Perhaps it was your first roller coaster ride? Asking someone out? Traveling alone? Trying a new sport or fitness class? Starting a new healthy eating plan? Whatever it is – find that great experience from the past and own it. Then, take a new situation that is holding you back and visualize yourself using the same tools you used to get yourself on that roller coaster, or asking that person out, or booking that trip alone or trying that new class or eating plan. Childhood situations are awesome sources of inspiration. What skills did you use (besides succumbing to peer pressure – that’s not welcome here!) to move into your courage.
- Meditate. Like visualization, meditation takes to a quiet place where we are true to who we are without all of the external factors that create fear. Take the time for quiet, centering meditation so you can get to a strong spiritual place that strengthens your will and takes you where you’re called.
Sometimes we just have to ask ourselves a few questions:
- What am I afraid of?
- Why am I afraid of it?
- What’s the worst thing that will happen if I don’t do this? Or actually do it?
If the answer to your questions leaves you in a place where not doing something is far worse than doing it, then your will is there and your courage is ready.
Typically the “routine”, as Coelho states, is lethal. Getting outside of your comfort zone is key to building confidence. Confidence and courage dance together. Sometimes we need to boost our confidence to have courage.
Sometimes a leap of faith that delivers us courage makes us more confident. And as Brene Brown has so beautifully explained, sometimes you just have to take that risk and be totally vulnerable.
Production Note: Please forgive us for the misspelling of adrenaline in the video.