We need courage for all our activities and endeavors, even the most basic ones. Without it we would be crippled by fear and unable to meet any of life’s challenges. Courage is a choice, but what does it look like? It is a courageous act, for instance, to leave our parents and create an independent life of our own. If we have overcome an abusive childhood, homelessness, or prejudice of any kind, we have called on courage repeatedly. To love and make a commitment to another person, as in marriage, parenthood, or long-lasting friendships, takes tremendous courage. Facing a serious illness, career changes, and growing old all take courage.
It takes courage to work through our times of despair to a place of peace. It is seen when we choose to be our authentic selves. Courage is part of choosing our battles thoughtfully, instead of unconsciously reacting. Courage shows when we choose perseverance over quitting, responsibility over checking out, and progress over stagnation. It sets boundaries for healthy relationships. And when we choose love over fear and creation over destruction, we are again calling on courage. Brené Brown writes in her book Rising Strong, “I believe that what we regret most are our failures of courage, whether it’s the courage to be kinder, to show up, to say how we feel, to set boundaries, to be good to ourselves.”
To me courage is showing up for life with a willingness to step into fear, change, discomfort, or uncertainty. It’s about being real when maintaining the status quo would be much easier. It’s about living personal values, not just talking about them. It’s about doing what’s right even when it’s difficult. Courage acknowledges fear but chooses to take the next needed step. In John Wayne’s words, “Courage is being scared to death…. and saddling up anyway.” In the Friends After Diagnosis (FAD) Ride Beyond Diagnosis program, I’ve seen several women, visibly afraid of the horse, get into the saddle and ride in spite of their fear. Because courage is contagious, other women were inspired to try, and not one of them regretted working through her fear. In fact, they enjoyed heightened self-confidence and were eager to try more new activities.
Our individual journeys will challenge us in ways we can’t even imagine, so where can we find the courage to meet those challenges? On a spiritual level, courage comes from deep within. When we turn to our Higher Power (God, Universe, Great Spirit, whatever name works for you), we access guidance that clarifies our perspective, intention, and decision-making. We are supported with higher wisdom.
Courage comes from the support of people who believe in us. Their faith in us creates confidence because, if they believe in us, it is easier for us to believe. As they share their time and experience, we gain new perspective for the challenge we face. Encouragement from people we trust helps us manage negative thoughts and fears. This is why FAD is so effective – we support each other. Albert Schweitzer writes, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Thank you FAD.
Our own intuition is a source of courage. Those inner nudges about needed changes are important messages meant for guidance. It’s also another way our Higher Power communicates. Intuition can tell us to change our driving route, and later we discover there was a major accident on the other route. Intuition tells us to leave a dangerous situation, go to a different doctor, or change jobs. Any change takes courage, and the more we listen to our intuition, the easier it will be to call on courage.
Experience is another source of courage. When we look at past experiences and the resources that came our way just when they were needed, we build confidence in our ability to call on courage again. Our struggles reveal our character because it is in our darkest moments that we find out who we really are. Calling on courage gives us the power to meet our challenges with strength, no matter how frightening they may look. Ralph Marston writes, “Every fear is an opportunity to grow in confidence and courage. Face the fear, and find the power of your courage.”
We’re all in the process of becoming who we came to the planet to be. Our problems don’t need to hold us hostage. Let’s call on the power of courage, and have faith in the growth process of our journey. Let’s trust the people we are becoming, and call on courage together.
Until Next Time – Sylvia