Security is mostly a superstition.

It does not exist in nature,

nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run

than outright exposure.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Helen Keller

Are your fears keeping you locked away from living the life you desire? Do you sometimes wish that you could show a bit more courage in your day-to-day dealings with other people? If you had more courage, perhaps you would be able to ask for that raise you have been waiting for, feel more confident in closing your next sale, or even invite the person of your dreams to go out on a date! The possibilities are truly endless!

But what is courage? To discuss a thing, we must first know what it is. Courage is the ability to continue moving forward even in the face of challenges, adversity, and fear. And don’t get me wrong, fear exists. Without fear, there could be no bravery, or at least, no need for it. So being courageous is largely really about managing your fear the best you can and still taking the best action available to you.

Courage is like a psychological muscle.

Being brave is similar to lifting weights. The more you participate, the easier it becomes. Alternatively, the more you are willing to use and accept fear as an excuse for not moving forward, the easier that path becomes, and the more stuck you will stay. You get good at the things that you choose to practice regularly.

How do I cultivate courage?

1. Start with a list

  • Start out by making a list of the things that you are afraid to do but wish you weren’t. These can be things like asking someone out that you are interested in, doing karaoke, starting your own business, or leaving a bad relationship.
  • Next, list the items in order from least fearful to most fearful.
  • Begin at the top and work your way down.

This strategy will help you develop the courage to tackle your list and move on to even bigger things. And, of course, be realistic. There will be things on your list that have no real life consequence. So do not foolishly stake your mental and physical health on something like being able to touch a snake, for instance.

1. Decide that you are going to conquer your fear. The simple act of making a decision means that you have cut yourself off from all other possibilities. So declare to yourself that you are going to tackle your fears one at a time.

2. Accept the fact that there will be some fear. Fear can frequently be decreased, but sometimes not completely eliminated. Remember that living courageously means dealing with some level of fear but going forward anyway.

3. Develop the mindset that fear is not a good enough excuse any more to avoid doing something. Unless you are going to fall off a cliff, being afraid is an ineffective way of choosing your course of action.

  • As mentioned above, if you get into the bad habit of not acting because of fear, continuing on that path only becomes easier.
  • Try to start basing your decisions on what you would like to have in your life, rather than on what you do not want (the fear).

4. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Many times your knee-jerk reaction is to feel fear in a given situation, but you may discover that the worst possible outcome is not all that bad.

5. Reward yourself. After you complete one of your list items, give yourself a treat. Celebrate! Be proud of yourself, you have certainly earned it!

6. Recognize that feelings of fear and excitement are very closely related. Is a roller coaster exciting or scary? It is a very thin line for most people. Horror movies are a similar experience. The difference between excitement and terror can be sometimes be difficult to ascertain. Try telling yourself that you are just really excited the next time you take action to do something on your list.

7. Use every tool at your disposal to minimize your fear and have faith in yourself. All kinds of things can help! Here are some suggestions:

  • Faith
  • Meditation
  • Positive affirmations
  • Hypnosis
  • Therapy
  • Practicing your values and principles
  • Prayer

You can choose to live more courageously. Put the above plan into action today. The key is to start small and move forward from there. Remember that being courageous is all about taking action in spite of fear, not the absence of fear. There is no time like the present to cultivate your courage.

To your continued success!

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc