What is courage?
Courage is the will and the willingness
to embrace and fully feel your fear
as you take actions and risks
in service to your highest commitments
and deepest desires.
(see undoing fear)
Courage is created; it is chosen.
And it is chosen in the moment.
It is always available to you.
It is always an open door,
you can always walk through that door or not.
Courage cannot be stored or built up.
It’s inaccurate to say that you “have courage”
or you “don’t have courage.”
It’s accurate to say that you “choose courage”
or “choose to feel safe in the moment
rather than choose courage.”
Many of us appear to choose courage when,
in fact, the courage we choose
is only “standing on one leg.”
Almost all of us are masters
at suppressing, denying, camouflaging,
contracting against, and/or pushing away
(or trying to argue away) our fear.
We do this for the deadening, anesthetic effect
we expect it to have on our fear.
Full courage includes
full acknowledgment, experience,
and illumination of our fear
while we are taking the appropriate actions.
It also includes an acknowledgment and honoring
of ourselves for choosing the courage —
regardless of the outcome.
Courage exists independent of outcome.
Choosing courage (or not choosing courage)
is neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.
It is simply a choice,
with associated benefits and costs.
A life primarily oriented
toward the choice of courage
will give you one kind of life —
a life you will love.
A life primarily oriented
toward the choice of feeling safe and secure
will give you another kind of life —
a life of survival and withdrawal.
It’s okay to want to feel safe and secure.
We all want that.
But, when feeling safe and secure becomes
your primary orientation
(usually by default),
then you are living a life of avoidance
rather than a life of inspiration.
What are the “Four Cornerstones of Courage”?
Courage, to be fully exercised and empowered,
includes four interwoven, yet distinct, expressions.
The first expression of courage
is choosing to embrace and embody our fear.
Because resistance to fear is automatic for all of us,
one of the best ways to embrace fear is to:
first, consciously, take several very deep breaths,
visualizing the fear flowing through you without resistance;
then, while continuing to breathe very deeply,
shout, speak, or whisper several times
(as loudly as the situation allows),
“Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I am so scared!”
Many of us exercise courage,
yet, in omitting this first expression of courage,
we have adopted the stiff-upper-lip approach to courage.
Without embracing the fear,
we disempower ourselves by using our resources
to fight our fear rather than tap into its energy
to vitalize our commitments and deepest desires.
Choosing to embrace your fear
is the first cornerstone of courage.
Go to undoing fear for a fuller explanation and demontration.
The second expression of courage
is choosing to honor yourself for choosing courage
before and after each act of courage.
This is most easily done (right after you have embraced your fear),
by getting in touch with your “five-year-old” within.
Consider the idea that it’s not your adult who is frightened.
It’s your five-year-old who is frightened.
After getting in touch with your five-year-old,
(use a picture of yourself from that age, if helpful),
say to him or her,
“I can see and feel that you are frightened.”
“It’s okay to feel frightened.”
“I really appreciate and admire you
for your choice to feel your fear and to take this action
while feeling your fear.”
Express this to your child until you can feel
that he or she feels admired and appreciated by you, the adult.
But that’s only half of this second expression.
After you have taken the action, regardless of the outcome,
get back in touch with your five-year-old child
and again express your appreciation and admiration
for the courage she or he has just finished exercising.
Remember that courage exists independent of the outcome.
In becoming so attached to the outcome,
we disempower ourselves in actually getting the outcome!
Most of us let our “courage muscles” wither and weaken
by not consistently honoring ourselves
each time that we exercise courage.
Choosing to honor yourself for exercising courage
is the second cornerstone of courage.
The third expression of courage,
the one we usually associate with courage,
is choosing to act (or not act)
in service to our commitments and deepest desires
in the face of fear.
Choosing to act while embracing your fear
is the third cornerstone of courage.
The fourth expression of courage
is similar to the second one.
Regardless of whether or not you got the desired result,
get back in touch with your five-year-old.
Express admiration and appreciation to him or her
for the courage he or she just chose.
Keeping expressing that appreciation
until you can feel that he or she fully gets it.
Remember that courage exists independent of the results.
Focus first on the fact that you chose courage,
secondly on whether or not you got the desired result.
Honoring your five-year-old within for the courage just chosen
is the final cornerstone of choosing courage.
If you will look for opportunities to choose courage each day,
if you will practice courage daily,
including all three of its expressions,
then you will transform your relationship to fear (and to yourself),
within a month!