One of the thrills as a parent is the experiences you get to take part in with your children. I have found that some of them are fun, enjoyable experiences. Others, such as the time I was sitting at the top of a vertical drop on a rollercoaster my kids having convinced me to go on, less so! My heart was thumping, as I stared into the dark hole I was about to be plunged into. This is a fear I had to overcome because my kids like rollercoasters. You could call it courage, or perhaps stupidity, depending on your point of view.
There are many situations that may cause you fear. Fear is an automatic reaction. It is almost primal originating from the fight or flight response that gets the adrenalin pumping. Fear begins in our unconscious mind which is why it seems to be automatic. Yet the truth is that it is just like anything else in our minds – it has been learnt. Something has happened to cause us to react in this way, and those responses can at times threaten to derail our dreams, goals and even our purpose. In the middle of fears that threaten to overwhelm us is where we can find our greatest strength – courage.
Courage is Not the Absence of Fear
In my research on this topic I came across this quote by Nelson Mandela:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
I have found that fear in the normal course of a day arises when you begin to focus on the unknowns. What if this doesn’t work? That kind of thing. The ‘what ifs’ of life can ruin your whole day. At that moment you have a choice when these thoughts come into view. You can stay and focus on it. But if you do more fear will result possibly even to the point of paralysis. Or you can decide not to let fear determine your actions. As has been said before what you focus on expands.
My inbox seems to fill up really fast with the next best thing to help me succeed in business. All of them sound amazing, and promise that if you ‘take part in this’ or ‘do that’ you will be more successful. It is entirely feasible that this is the case. But most of these offers play on ‘FOMO’ – the fear of missing out. When you are already feeling overwhelmed, these things seem enticing and play on fears you may already be displaying. The important thing to do is to stop. Think about where you are going and think about what these offers are triggering inside of you.
Take a Breath
At the point of most fear, we have to take a breath and confront our fears. Take them out if you like, write them down if it helps and then ask questions like – is this true? If this did happen how bad would it be? To do this takes courage. I am sure Nelson Mandela faced many fears locked up as he was for many years, fears about whether he would survive, ever come out of prison, and see his dream of desegregated South Africa be fulfilled. His courage manifested itself in the everyday decision to keep hoping. When I am facing fear, I focus on what I can do and decide what action I will take, be it to help a friend, to learn from what I am facing. That way I’m not giving room to the things I cannot control.
When you focus on fear it causes you to become unfocused. You must STOP and decide to press on towards whatever goal or dream you set out to achieve. Courage is discovered in the midst of fear and speaks to our heart. Your head may be saying one thing but choose to move with your heart towards the dream you have and the purpose you were made for.
What fears do you have that are holding you back? What one thing can you do today that gets you closer to your goals?
Be encouraged – in courage today decide to take action, however small, because action or movement of some kind is always positive. It could simply be to ask for help.
Here is to you finding your courage.