Strategies to Build Courage and Conquer Fear

Written by on June 27, 2014 in Confidence, Emotional Mastery with 19 Comments

Embrace CourageWhat do you think of when you hear the word courage?

Perhaps you think of a firefighter or soldier; someone bravely fighting a battle with a life-threatening disease, or possibly someone rebuilding their life after a catastrophic accident.

But courage has many faces. If you are struggling with depression, getting out of bed in the morning is courage; leaving a successful career to strike out on your own requires courage, and if you’re painfully shy, that first time you speak up at a meeting takes great courage.

True courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s feeling and acknowledging the fear and moving forward anyway, and it’s an attribute that can benefit us in almost every area of life …

  • Stepping outside your comfort zone requires courage!
  • Making hard choices requires courage!
  • Standing up for what you believe in requires courage!
  • Asking for what you want requires courage!
The only thing greater than power of the mind is courage of the heart. ~Author Unknown

The Nature of Courage

The courage I’m talking about is the ability to reclaim the power we unwittingly give to any number of imaginary fears that keep us safely sheltered within the boundaries of our personal comfort zone.

The insidious problem we unknowingly foster when we give in to fear is the sense of “relief” we experience; because in reality what we’re creating is a type of psychological reward system that is reinforcing avoidance behavior. So each time you choose to give in to a fear, you are literally conditioning yourself to make it even more likely that you will avoid facing that fear in the future. Depressing isn’t it?

So what if you challenge yourself to look at fear from a different perspective? Rather than focusing on the fear of what you stand to lose, learn to focus on what you stand to gain by taking action. This simple yet powerful shift in mindset can completely change your perception of the situation and  leave you feeling more courageous and in control of your life.

More Strategies to Help You Build Courage

  • Name your fear: To begin reclaiming power from your fear you must put a name to it. Start by picking one thing you are afraid of doing or facing and in as much detail as possible write down how it makes you feel. What is the worst that could possibly happen if you choose to face your fear and do this thing? Then write down the benefits of facing the fear. Keep in mind that fear is a tricky rascal and will naturally amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, so you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.
  • Keep exercising your courage muscles: Courage is a daily habit and the more you allow yourself to feel the fear and nudge yourself to face even small uncomfortable experiences, the more courageous you will become. And I’ll tell you another secret … because our fears often blind us to new experiences, as you become more courageous you’ll be amazed at how opportunities for growth will begin to appear that you may never have otherwise noticed!
  • Peel away labels: Without even realizing it you may have labeled yourself in limiting roles such as, “I am afraid of change”, “I’m not happy, but this is the best I can do.” Only you can change your story to reflect a new reality … “Yes, it is scary but I owe it to myself to make the most of my life and I CAN do this!”
  • Cultivate emotional resilience: Increasing your capacity for emotional resilience is about so much more than coping with a crisis. It’s the ability to quickly bounce back from unexpected detours, confidently minimize the noise and stress of day-to-day living and creating a stronger, more fulfilling life.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~Anaïs Nin

Whatever you do, don’t try to talk yourself into believing that you have to be fearless before tackling a new challenge! Fear can only rob you of your dreams, motivation, and strength if you let it. Cultivating courage is not a choice reserved for a brave few; it’s an option open to anyone with a passion for creating their own life experience.

Related:

 

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

 

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19 Reader Comments

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  1. Carol Newlands says:

    Keep your head high and chin up and don’t be afraid to face your fear. Fear is a prison that stops you from everything. Don’t let the fear control you from being who and what you are. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
    Carol Newlands recently posted…Set Your Own PriceMy Profile

  2. Absolutely true: “The insidious problem we unknowingly foster when we give in to fear is the sense of ‘relief’ we experience; because in reality what we’re creating is a type of psychological reward system that is reinforcing avoidance behavior.” I like what you say about a perspective shift. There’s an area where I feel a lot of fear. I know that strategy will work . . . just might take some time to create a reward system for going for it.
    Leanne Chesser recently posted…7 Simple Steps to Create an Authentic Plan That WorksMy Profile

  3. Great post Marquita.

    I think many people would benefit from reading this. I see so many people who are afraid to even try, with severe lack of courage. And it’s sad because they limit themselves and their lives, never achieving what they could.

    Exercising your courage muscle, I like that idea. Just like a bodybuilder, you need to exercise to grow and improve.

    Thanks for the post, i enjoyed it 🙂
    Ron Killian recently posted…Profitable Blogging BlueprintMy Profile

  4. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow Marquita!

    You literally offer a smorgasbord of use able ideas! I really like two of your ideas about constantly exercising the courage muscles!

    That’s absolutely priceless! And the other where you advise not to fall prey to peel away label syndrome!

    Marquita you are simply one of the best writers when it comes to painting extremely graphic images with your words!

    And your examples are so easy to follow and relate to! I really enjoy treasure hunting your posts! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Mark recently posted…How The Ultimate Insiders Use Incentive Programs To Drive Your Competitors Crazy! Part TwoMy Profile

  5. Chery Schmidt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Marty, I loved this–>>Instead of focusing on the fear of what you stand to lose, learn to focus on what you stand to gain by taking action.
    Awesome Advice-Now this is something I have learned to do, I dont think about the negative, just the positives.

    You are so right once you start writing down your fears and journaling about them, you will begin to get the courage to fight them..OH Yeh You need to keep it upbeat and positive HUH??

    Thank You for sharing.. I just love the way you write ..Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Time to Get To Know Me “Chery Schmidt”My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      So glad you found the article inspiring Chery! I am definitely a believer in the power of optimism, but I would rather say I’m a resilient optimist than someone who only sees rainbows. There’s a BIG difference, and having followed your writing I know that you also apply that bit of realism to your positive side. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  6. Sebastian Aiden Daniels
    Twitter:
    says:

    I believe that naming your fear and cultivating emotional resilience is so important. I like to write out my fears as you said and name the worst thing that could possibly happen if that did happen and ask myself the question if I would survive. The answer tends to always be yes.

    When you work on increasing your emotional intelligence your life will change in so many ways. When you learn to walk through your emotions and not let them control, you are able to step through your fear because you recognize that it isn’t an emotion.

    It is true that once you start be courageous it helps you in the future to continue to be courageous. If I got through that, then I can get through this : D.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…Tips to Help You Wean Off of a DrugMy Profile

  7. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    I really appreciate your insight into defining courage not as the absence of fear, but rather as acknowledging it and moving forward anyway. I read a book several years back by an author named Susan Jeffers. The name of the book was aptly named “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

    I can relate to the powerful influence of fear and how it can work to accentuate everything that can go wrong with a decision instead of focusing on everything that could go right.

    And perhaps, for me at least, the most important thing is cultivating the emotional resilience that you speak so well about. Because, truth be told, there will be times when decisions work out better than expected. And there will be times when they don’t. Deciding to get back up and face fear the next time it presents itself is essential.

    Thanks again Marty, wonderful post!
    Dave recently posted…Front rowMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      I also read “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” Dave many years ago and even though I can’t remember a single word from the book the title became a sort of mantra of mine and no doubt helped to spark my interest in resilience. Your point about how things won’t always work out as we expect or hope is very important. I just finished reading a new study on positive emotions and resilience and yet again the researchers found that while highly resilient people experience frustration, anxiety and failures just like everyone else, they consistently bouncing back and release negative feelings much faster and experience greater happiness and overall life satisfaction. Pretty good pay off if you ask me 🙂

  8. Heather
    Twitter:
    says:

    I just love your blog posts. They seem to ALWAYS talk to me. The most courageous thing I have done recently is walk away from a toxic relationship. It is hard to really be true to yourself and do what is right for you … especially when family is thrown into the mixture. Thank you for this post!
    Heather recently posted…Are you ready to kick the junk in your trunk good-bye?My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome back Heather and thank you so much for sharing. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to walk away from a relationship – toxic or otherwise – but congratulations to you for having the courage to do what you needed to in order to take care of yourself! 🙂

  9. Kimba
    Twitter:
    says:

    I walked away for a very stressful job six years ago. It took guts, but once I gained a little perspective I realized – drum roll – I was part o the problem! I had to embrace the ideal that only I could make a change for the better – had to stop blaming other people and a toxic work environment and take the bull by the horns. Best thing I ever did.
    Kimba recently posted…By: twitterMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Hey Kimba, those AHHA moments are always eye openers aren’t they? I’ve come to believe that it’s healthy to shake our lives up from time to time to break loose the cobwebs and see things from different perspectives. Thanks for contributing to the conversation, always appreciated!

  10. Kyle
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great advice! I have found that naming my fears and acknowledging them has really helped me overcome them. Emotional intelligence and resilience is so important to thrive in these changing times and building courage to conquer our fears is definably the way to grow these capacities.
    Kyle recently posted…Status Anxiety: The Reason Why Facebook Makes People Sad and LonelyMy Profile

  11. Fear stops so many of us from accomplishing the things we desire. Thanks for showing us the way to mustering up the courage we need to move through the fear walls, and live to see the other side.
    David Merrill 101 recently posted…8 Steps To Create Your Digital Information ProductMy Profile

  12. You really got to the heart of Courage here Marty. Just reading through your strategies I could feel little sparks of agreement and fear going off! I liked where you predicted our inner response to naturally emphasise the negative possibilities. We really have to take charge and overcome this comfort zone bubble… it’s a place where life isn’t lived to the full.
    Thanks for this wonderful post 🙂
    Jacs
    Jacs Henderson recently posted…Revive Old Post… Tweet Old Post Has Grown Up!My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Oh I love sparks of inspiration! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to contribute to the conversation Jacs, always appreciate your thoughtful insights. 🙂

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