There are infinite movies glorifying fearlessness that borders with stupidity and disregard for life and safety, poorly constructed hero stories which in 70% consist of high speed car chases, shootings or random kung fu/karate flash mobs. True bravery is far different and has nothing to do with fearless dare devilishness. It’s more subtle and intertwined with our own personal battles or doubts and it is an individual deep feat.
You may not enjoy going to the dentist but do so without much fuss, yet someone else may be terrified to their core and it is a true manifestation of courage, demanding tremendous restrain and work on one self, to not run away screaming from the waiting room as soon as they hear the drill. It’s a hero’s journey for them. For some this may be letting someone get close, for others standing up for themselves, for some being alone, managing their diet or mental health, moving away, staring a new life, not helicopter parenting their kids, spiders, darkness, clowns, dogs… It doesn’t matter what it is and we’re not to demean the fears of others just because we don’t have the exact same set. Courage is not given by some divine anointment. It is built, arduously brick by brick by challenging yourself when you step out of what just feels safe and comfortable. Comfortable is a place you rest at between the challenges you set for yourself, not a place you live at all the time. There is an optimal line diving complete order and complete mayhem of the unknown which we should carefully tread. If something is new fear is only logical, a natural reaction to what we haven’t mastered or are not introduced to yet. Fear is good, useful and can be a highly productive and valuable companion.
If something is continuously out of whack and you can’t seem to get it right and there is this one thing inside you you’re afraid to look at, maybe it’s exactly the place that should be looked at – as the knights of the round table all went into the woods to seek the Holy Grail at the point that is darkest (darkest to them). This is how you get the things worth getting – by facing what needs to be faced which is usually scary.
Beginning a new thing in which you’re not yet oriented is hard, confusing and scary and it takes a lot of activation energy to break the initial fear, but if you do it (even if you do it badly at first) you get a little braver. If you just didn’t make excuses and did the things you would, unburdened by personal stones you’re dragging surrounding the situation, advise someone else to do in your position, no one knows how braver you would get by this small increments. It accumulates and the skill of courage is transferable. Show a little courage in one area of life, soon enough the stagnation at other areas will not be enough anymore and you’ll be forced by your own wits and common sense to be braver here as well. This is how improvements work – once you can do better all of the excuses dry up and you feel the need to do better no matter how scared you may be.
As each day unfolds do just one thing your old self wouldn’t do and which you usually resent it for later. You know that good old one – do one thing each day that scares you – that’s a good one and it can grow you unimaginably. It may take a week, a year or ten until the shift is really noticeable. So speak up, stand up, try even if there are no guarantees, be vulnerable, be honest, appear everywhere as you are, ask what you need, go in for that check-up, learn to drive, make that call you’ve been dreading, say no when you want to say no, show love, accept help, manage that thing that’s hanging over you, be stricter, be kinder, set boundaries… A little braver is possible every single day and only you know what it entails for you. There are a few things that truly make a huge difference when you look back on life, and courage is one of them.