Courage is the ability to face fears and move through them. A lot of people have the misconception that courageous people are unafraid all the time.
The truth is that people with courage are also humans who feel the emotion of fear. The only reason why they are able to build courage is that they ‘choose’ not to run away from fearful situations.
Courage is the virtue of all virtues because if you lack courage you won’t be able to exercise other virtues.
Courage is the willingness to face uncertainty, to step into the unknown and to go ahead despite the fear. The ability to face life, to acknowledge your emotions and to not give up on your dreams is courage. Understanding and mastering yourself is courage.
If building courage is all about facing your fears, then why do so many people lack courage? It’s because facing fears isn’t easy. The emotions associated with fear are too painful and overwhelming.
That’s why staying in the comfort zone becomes a more preferable option. What many people fail to grasp is that the more they expose themselves to fear-based emotions, the more their intensity will decrease and the more they avoid them, the more intense they will become.
So, the key to build courage is to expose yourself to the situations and things that you fear despite the overwhelming emotions. Even if a hundred voices in your head convince you to run away, don’t!
They are liars hell-bent to hold you back.
In my post about fear, I explained that the only way to overcome fears is to face them. So many people are aware of this fact but what they usually aren’t aware of are the reasons why this approach works.
Once you understand scientifically how facing your fears works, then you’ll have more faith in this approach and you won’t waste your time searching for other easy, ineffective methods.
There are two psychological concepts that can explain how facing your fear is the only way to overcome them. One is the concept of beliefs and the other the concept of anchors or associations.
Fear is a belief that we can’t handle a certain situation or that the situation is harmful to our well-being. When we face our fear and finally realize that the situation wasn’t that harmful after all, our initial belief weakens.
The more we face our fear, the more convinced will our subconscious mind become that the fear it was holding on to was irrational and unnecessary.
A time will come when you’ll get rid of the fear and develop a positive belief that you ‘can’ indeed do what you were initially afraid to do.
Anchors are associations that we form in our minds between two events that happen simultaneously in such a way that that the happening of one event reminds you of the other.
For instance, if you had a really good time and listened to a piece of music, then your mind will associate the positive emotions you are feeling with the music.
If you continued to play this piece of music several times whenever you felt happy, then the association in your mind will become stronger. So if you played this piece of music or heard it somewhere accidentally, your positive emotions will automatically get triggered!
When you experience a fearful situation, you feel fear because you have associated the situation with the emotion of fear.
Whether you had a past negative experience or whether or you saw someone being afraid in such a situation, the result will be the same- the emotion of fear will get triggered within you in this particular situation.
In order to break anchors, one event needs to happen several times without the happening of the other.
So if you want the fearful situation to get dissociated from the emotion of fear, you need to expose yourself to this situation as many times as you can.
Every time you face the situation, the intensity of the emotions will decrease and a time will come when the fear will get completely dissociated from the situation.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve written 280+ articles and published one book about human behavior on this blog that has garnered over 3 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur.