Courage is something that we commonly reserve for soldiers, firefighters, and police officers. We often refer to people acting "courageously in the line of duty". These individuals are esteemed because they risk for the benefit of others. This is a class of people who deserve the attention. However, they do not have a monopoly on courage.
Many think courage is the absence of fear. It is not. Mark Twain may have summed it up best when he penned:
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear."
Each of us needs to exhibit courage in our daily lives. Fear is something that affects all of us. However, those who succeed are able to take action in spire of the fear. They exhibit some courage by "doing it anyway". The unsuccessful allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear. Their action is stifled because the fear controls them.
Sadly, courage is something that is rarely talked about in our society. Instead, we are presented with an image that we are weak if we allow fear to enter into our minds. It is a fact that everyone experiences fear. The trick is to realize where it resides. Many think of it as a feeling which it can be since it manifests itself in that way. Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that fear, like everything else, starts in the mind. Our lives are nothing more than mental exercises. Everything we experience first started as a thought.
This insight is helpful in overcoming fear. Courage is something that we create in our minds also. To overcome fear, we simply have to picture the payoff of the action being greater than the expense of succumbing to the fear. For many, this is almost impossible since they are so conditioned to giving into the fear. After years of settling, people begin to rationalize why they cannot take action. These "excuses" serve as justification for continuing along the same path without change. Of course, this is only reinforced by society since fear is used by all promoters of dogma.
Security is an illusion. Many settle for things in their life because they believe in this fallacy. The truth is that nothing is secure in life. Life is a dynamic entity; it is not static. Things change in an instant. People often take things for granted until their world is suddenly cast in a much different light. Look at how lives are altered by car crashes, hurricanes, and disease. These are just a few examples which take security and toss it out the window.
Therefore, we need to look at our fears. Why do we have a fear of financial insecurity? Of public speaking? Of humiliation? Of failure? Of being ostracized by friends or family? Many of these same thoughts pass through the minds of everyone. However, those who are able to overcome these things are the ones who excel. In short, they act courageously in the face of their fears.
Keep these ideas at the forefront of your mind when you start to see yourself succumbing to fear. Naturally, those situations where we are in extreme personal danger are to be avoided and the times when listing to that inner voice is helpful. However, in our daily lives, few of us encounter such extreme decisions. Instead, we face situations where one of the above-mentioned fears (or a host of others) get in the way of our progress in those areas that are important to us. We seek the security that comes from inactivity only to later realize that it does not exist. Ultimately, we always pay the price for listening to our fears.
Courage is required if we are to avoid the state of stagnation. Paralysis from fear is something that comes from repetition. We see this in people who allowed this cancer to control their lives for decades. These same people often completely shut down. They usually are inept at making decisions since that muscle was not exercised. Their rationalization for life is in high gear always justifying the lack of progress. Plus they blame everyone else for their ills. Yet, when a person of this sort looks back over his or her life, the truth is realized. Fear won over and over.
In closing, just remember we all will meet the end someday. Do you want to be one who looks back and notices all the missed opportunities because of the succumbing to fear? Or will you be a person who knows you gave it your best in all situations? The choice comes is yours.
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