What everybody ought to know about courage
Little pirates engaging in “entering” the other ship (Photo credit: Ralf Weiser).
The most often overlooked thing is that there is a tipping point just before you become courageous. Prior to that point you are not committed to do anything yet. This stage is very unsettling and does not feel good at all. Question is if and when you will make the decision to do move forward and fully engage.
No wonder that this time frame of uncertainty feels uncomfortable. Courage is the ability to confront pain, intimidation, fear, uncertainty, danger, etc. In most cases you risk your health, reputation, status, or economic well-being. They are all not pleasant things when they go wrong.
The only good part is that our brain has a special part that provides self-protection in such situations. This has often been called “lizard” brain. It tries protecting us from harm when we are threatened; it works like cruise control once the adrenalin is pumped into the blood stream. The ensuing action may take hours that will fly right by without noticing. What we will vividly remember the most is the time leading up to the tipping point. So what do we fear then?
Besides of the emotionally based self-protection mechanism of ours, we also have another choice: Thinking rationally about the given situation. Looking at the thought rather than from the thought is almost always better. Here a few mental concepts that may help you get over the tipping point:
- Think of all the people whom you may be able to help by standing up for what you believe.
- Ponder how much time you spend from realizing the need for action and doing something about it. I mean that you need to study actual versus estimated time. The time we think it takes making up our mind typically differs with the real world. Our brain tries playing tricks on us and typically we think it takes longer than it does.
- Realize that most famously courageous people did not intend to be famous or courageous – it just happened to them and they made the best out of it.
- Take deep breaths. Think about the fact that you are ok for the moment. The future has not happened yet, so do not worry about it. Anxiety is not your friend today.
- Seek friendship and companionship. Going through unsettling times together with someone else helps coping with tough situations.
- Think of the rewards. The biggest deal is not having to live a life of regret. Nothing is worse than not doing something that later on you wish you had.
- Realize that other people look up to you. You may not know a lot of people that pay attention to what you do and what you have to say. They do pay attention to you and that is a lot more people than you think. Choose to inspire.
Much like the pirates of the old days, we must put the saber into our mouths and fully engage our fear first and then the enemy. Your stomach may be churning at first, but what are you really afraid of? Walking away from a challenge may let you live a life of regret. Do you really want to choose that? Always choose courage and get over your tipping point quickly.
Just think of many people turned out to be courageous heroes on 9/11/2001. It may not have been there choice in the first place, but they certainly chose to get over their tipping points. They will inspire me forever.