Courage has very little to do with fearlessness. In fact, courage is all about fear. Courage is acting in the company of fear. It’s feeling fear, and doing it anyway.
Courage “is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk, danger, uncertainty or intimidation,” write authors Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons in their book The Courage Companion: How to Live Life with True Power.
Courage isn’t just heroic acts. Courage is many things. And often courage is quiet, spoken in hushed tones, like the well-known and beautiful quote from Mary Anne Rademacher: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
“What we discovered is that courage can be a form of tenaciousness, a refusal to quit because you’re tired, or hurt, or humiliated, or emotionally broken,” according to Lesowitz and Sammons.
In The Courage Companion, they share many powerful stories of people who’ve faced everything from deep depression to the suicide of a loved one to months of unemployment. They explain that their goal was to show readers what courage looks and feels like.
Lesowitz and Sammons also share how we can cultivate courage in our daily lives and “tap into your own inner brave heart.” In one chapter they offer the helpful suggestion of creating a courage ritual. They recommend turning to your ritual “when you are so scared that you question your ability to keep going.”
These are some of their tips for a courage ritual:
- Create a safe retreat in your mind. When you’re feeling scared, visit that place.
- Look in the mirror and say, “I love you” to show yourself support.
- Imagine you’re strong. You might pick a strong symbol like a superhero.
- Ask a trusted friend for support.
- Connect to your gratitude, and give thanks for your blessings.
- Listen to music that soothes you.
- Practice yoga or stretch your body.
- Picture yourself as a plant or flower being nourished and basking in the sun.
Of course, courage is often complicated, and there’s no quick fix for overcoming one’s fears. But it helps to have several concrete, practical strategies that help you take the first or second step toward chipping away at your concerns, worries and doubts. That help to remind you of your inner valor.
What helps you tap into your brave heart?
What helps you cultivate courage?
Strong girl photo available from Shutterstock