I see you over there. I know you are afraid. You are afraid that you will fail, afraid that you will be judged, maybe you are even judging yourself? Perhaps you are afraid for someone else and don’t know how to support them?
I’m here to tell you that fear is a liar and a good one at that.
Choosing courage over fear is part of living a meaningful life. You do this by digging deep and putting one foot in front of the other. You do this by holding your head up high, by tossing the blanket off of your head and by making a decision to believe in your own inner strength and sometimes even in the goodness of others. My mother used to say “what is the worst thing that can happen?” and once I visualize that, I often feel silly for being so afraid.
You see, I am a fear expert. I can obsess and worry and spin around and around with the best of them. I can convince myself that things are worse than they really are. I have the sensitivity, the imagination, the emotion and the focus that is needed to work myself up into a frenzy. However, although I have my own personal brand of uniqueness, I have learned some valuable lessons in my life. One of these lessons includes choosing courage over fear. I now often jump into the unknown or charge into a difficult situation with as much dignity and integrity as I can muster. It’s not easy but it is rewarding.
An article The Six Attributes of Courage says this in a way that is truly inspirational (Greenberg, Melanie. “The Six Attributes of Courage.” Psychology Today, Web. August 2012). Below you will find those six attributes taken directly from Dr. Greenberg’s article with my own commentary following each attribute. If you are facing a difficult situation in your life, I hope you find the courage to walk through that fear with your head held high!
1. Feeling fear but choosing to act. There is a proverb that says that courage and fear are brothers. One cannot exist without the other. Being courageous does not mean that you are not afraid. Being courageous means you are afraid but you stand up and face your fears and push through it. You take all of your strength, the strength of those that love you and you push through. It just takes that first step…and maybe some deep breaths!
2. Following your heart. Courage means trusting yourself, your own intuition and owning everything that makes you….you. Don’t apologize for who you are. Follow your heart and your dreams. This life is yours and yours only. Own it!
3. Persevering in the face of adversity. Did you ever hear that saying “just get back on that horse?” I literally had to do this once. After my divorce I took horseback riding lessons. One particularly crotchety old horse, who was obviously tired of inept riders like myself, decided to try to knock me off of its tired back. Somehow I managed to hang on. I was terrified to go back to those lessons. I did get back on that horse and although I came to the conclusion that horseback riding is not for me, I am damn proud that I walked back through that stable door. These are the moments that define you.
4. Standing up for what is right. I could write a book on this and maybe I will. This is not only about standing up for your values. This is about standing up for yourself. You cannot truly care for others until you care for yourself in a way that is true, brave and right. Stand up…it’s OK to fall, but true success in life happens when you decide to stand back up.
5. Expanding your horizons, letting go of the familiar. Oh it’s so easy to “fit” in. It’s also boring! Life is truly lived and enjoyed when we learn, when we grow, when we LIVE. I can tell you that after every fear I have faced, I have become exponentially stronger and wiser. How many people don’t do something because they are afraid of judgement. That’s no way to live. Go for it!
6. Facing suffering with dignity and faith. The kindest person you encounter in your life should be you. You hold the power to face life with dignity and faith. Be kind and forgiving and non judgmental for your own weaknesses and celebrate your strengths and successes when you overcome life’s challenges.
Courage is a choice you make when you choose courage….over fear. It’s a choice you make to believe in yourself. Nelson Mandela once said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
What if someone you love is facing something that requires a great deal of courage? This is something parents go through every single day. In this case the best thing you can do is to believe in that person. Make sure you don’t transfer your fears to him or her. I was recently faced with this with my own son who was nervous for a game. Our solution was to listen to music and visualize him succeeding. He was still scared to step on the field but he did it and for that, he was a success. He wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist in his goal stopping moves, but he understood that he succeeded that day and overcame his fear. He chose courage.
So how about it. Is it time to choose courage over fear?