How to Invoke Courage
“I am content in knowing I am as brave as any best that ever lived, if not braver”
– The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of OZ
Courage - the ability to do something dangerous, or to face pain or opposition, without showing fear - Oxford Advanced American Dictionary
What does the word courage mean to you?
Clearly, from the above definition as well as others, we can see that courage is closely linked with fear.
We have written on many occasions about the essential role that fear plays within our lives. Fear is necessary for survival. For example, it steps in to prevent us from walking into traffic without looking and from voicing everything that we are thinking, resulting in damaging consequences.
In fact, fear is present in everything that we do. When we worry that we are not good enough in our professional lives, our parenting and our relationships, fear is close at hand, dampening down or distorting all our behaviours through the stories that we tell ourselves about every situation. The point at which fear becomes a problem, is when it results in those unconscious behaviours running on unchecked and stopping us from moving forward in a healthy way.
Fear can paralyse us.
It shows up in many forms:
The ego Understanding the Purpose of Ego
Survival Archetypes Gathering your Inner Strength
Most obstructive is the fear/belief that we are flawed, defective or not good enough. This leads us to burying our head in the sand and refusing to look at all of the facets of Self that make up the whole. When we refuse to explore, acknowledge and accept the whole Self – even the parts that we worry that we will find ugly or abhorrent, we are driven to live an unconscious life. It is then that all our behaviours become unconscious and driven by automatic thoughts which arise from conditioning and core beliefs and exist to fulfil unconscious needs. When we refuse to practise Self-study, we are destined to repeat the same cycles of thoughts, emotions and patterns of behaviour in all situations and therefore manifest the same old outcomes every time. True Self-Mastery is to know every facet of Self so well that no situation can reveal to you any part of yourself that you have not seen and accepted already.
What is the connection between fear and courage?
Imagine that you are on the battlefield at a point in history where you have been conditioned and are ready to die for king and country. You have undergone months of intensive training. You are well nourished and in the best physical condition that you could be given the resources. You are equipped with the finest armour and weapons and crucially you carry the belief that your cause is just or that victory will bode well for you in terms of monetary wealth and status. You have everything to gain from charging into battle, but you are fearful of it. You feel your breathing become shallow and your limbs turn to jelly. You are positive that you have forgotten all that you have learned and that you will be dead before you even have a chance to survey the field. You are paralysed. Fear exists to keep you safe and, in this case, safety equals paralysis – except that in your paralysed state, you will be executed for cowardice anyway – whilst you know this rationally, fear has you in its grip and is running the show. What you require now is the courage to acknowledge those paralysing sensations and move forward consciously alongside them in the knowledge that you possess all the skills to survive.
True courage involves the fostering of an intricately balanced and intelligent relationship with fear, at the heart of which is deep, nurturing Self-awareness. Deep understanding and acknowledgement of when and why fear has arisen followed by an internal conscious conversation with that fearful part of Self is essential to our ability to move forward into healthy but new and unchartered territory.
If we find ourselves living unconsciously, choosing to resist looking inwards because of the risk that we might see something unpleasant about the Self, we can invoke the courage to do otherwise. In our own experience in Self-study we have found that some of the less comfortable Shadow Work and explorations into our own unconscious thoughts, feelings and resulting behaviours has given us some of the most profound insights for personal growth helping us to break free of old patterns and consequences.
It requires courage to look within with wiliness to accept and nurture all that we might find there and in our experience, what is there, is never as scary as we thought it would be. Most of the time it was already known to us and we greeted it like an old rejected friend who had been out in the cold for far too long. For the courage it has taken to do this work we remain ever grateful.
There are many ways to invoke courage. In fact once you have acknowledged a need for it you will often find it immediately present anyway.
We would like to invite you to have courage to explore your Self.
Love your Self.
Acknowledge and allow fear to arise but to move forward with it by your side as your lifelong, loving companion, to whom you pay attention and listen with gratitude.
Try new activities.
Find your voice.
Stand your ground.
Be kind to yourself and others.
Trust your intuition.
Make conscious choices.
Challenge limiting beliefs.
Remove your labels.
Reinvent your Self.
Stay the course.
Accept what is.
At the end of the article titled A Conversation with Fear there is a meditation which, during times of paralysis you can speak into your phone and listen back. It will help you to remove obstacles to moving forwards during challenging times.
Below are some of our other articles which explore various aspects of fear and the psyche.
For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your
human experience see our book: