Exploring the Depths of Courage in Everyday Life

In a world fraught with uncertainties, fear often seems to be the unwelcome guest that just won’t leave the party. 

It lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce on our hopes and dreams with a well-timed and often lingering scare tactic. 

Amidst the chaos, there exists a powerful antidote that we all possess – courage. Sometimes it is disguised in the most unexpected forms.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to act in spite of it.

Infants are born with only two fears – the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling.  All other fears are developed.

Whether we develop a fear of failure, speaking in public, rejection, spiders, needles, entering dark caves or just the unknown, its paralysing grip can (and does) hinder personal growth and progress. 

Courage isn’t just about charging into burning buildings or thwarting a robbery superhero-style. Sometimes, it’s about facing down a playground bully or summoning the nerve to ask that special someone out on a date. 

Acts of courage come in all shapes and sizes, from the grandiose to the everyday.

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“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Interesting that Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel about racial injustice in a southern town has been banned in numerous US communities, the protagonists citing language and racial depictions.

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Understanding Fear:

Fear is that age-old alarm bell ingrained deep within our psyche, courtesy of our ancient ancestors. Back in the day, it was their trusty survival guide, alerting them to lurking dangers in the wild.

In the animal kingdom, when danger has passed, they are able to discharge the adrenaline surge that floods their body.  Humans have forgotten how to connect with this intuition, to shake the body and clear the adrenaline, as our early ancestors may have done in the past.  

So the shock or fear of an event remains in our body keeping us in a state of active alert, itself a form of fear.  Humans cannot function properly when adrenals are depleted; the nervous system goes into sympathetic mode which in turn shuts down basic unconscious breathing and digestion patterns. The heart starts to beat faster to compensate for the irregular oxygen supply.  

Our bodies cannot tell the difference between thoughts that are from real and present danger or if they are assumed. This is where the acronym, False Evidence Appearing Real originates. As fears originate from from our thoughts, negative emotions are triggered and our bodies respond.

So yes, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Fast forward to today. While our threats may be more PowerPoint presentations than prowling predators, our bodies still react the same way – heart racing, senses heightened, and a generous dose of adrenaline.

Today’s fears wear many masks: anxiety, self-doubt, the occasional existential crisis. These emotional roadblocks can put the brakes on our personal growth faster than a “Do Not Enter” sign.

Whenever you find yourself venturing into uncharted territory – whether it’s public speaking, skydiving (hopefully with a parachute), or even cage diving with sharks – that fluttery feeling in your stomach is just your brain’s way of saying, “Hey, this is new!”

And guess what? It’s completely normal.

Yet it’s this very feeling that often keeps us snug in our comfort zones. It’s not the activity itself we fear; it’s the thought of feeling utterly petrified.

The remedy? Acting in spite of fear. That is courage.

That’s OK. It’s a completely natural response.

Here’s something a colleague wrote to describe fear and its antidote.

Hope you enjoy it…

The Antidote To Fear

Einstein defined it as moving in the opposite direction.

Churchill called it the finest of human qualities.

Mandela saw it in the triumph over fear.

Courage.

Hard to define.

But easy to spot.

Some examples where courage was or is required.

  • Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man on a bus in Alabama (1955)
  • Joan of Arc facing harsh criticism and burning at the stake for her beliefs (1431)
  • Standing up for yourself or a person who is being picked on by a bully.
  • Asking for a promotion or a raise at work.
  • Helping out a person or animal in need, even if it might put you in a some danger.
  • Leaving an abusive relationship.
  • Giving a Best Man’s speech at a wedding

The upside? Engaging in small acts of courage are likely to lead you toward greater acts of courage.

Another recipe when facing fear or any negativity is changing your posture or laughing in the face of adversity. Once you look back at the situation you will be laughing anyway, so why not laugh straight away?

And if nothing helps to get you out of the fear state, call us and book a session with Sam Cooper. She will support you in your journey towards happiness.

Dr. Elmar Jung
Dr. Elmar Jung
2 replies
  1. Alison Peel
    Alison Peel says:

    Courage is standing up to a Ryan Air gestapo wannabe at a flight departure gate when she trys to bully you into putting on a face mask or else!

    Funny in a sketch show but not at the time.

    Courage and intelligence are necessary to look around and see the system we live in and where we are heading. Smart cities, individual cancer treatments, digital currencies etc are all part of the overall ant computer and we will be ants feeding in to our own nests that feed into the overall, global brain.

    It has long been planned but now the blockchain technology is there to enable them to dismantle the current economic system and replace it with a token based economy.

    Reply

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