Courage and Fear

CourageFearWe are told to not be afraid and to have faith –“doubt not, fear not”. Indeed, doubt and fear are the two most powerful forces that hold us back in life. For some, they can be completely crippling. For others, they simply hold us back from achieving our full potential in life.

I’ve often wondered about these admonishments. How can you tell someone to not have fear or doubt? How can you respond? “Okay, I won’t have any more fear and I’ll have complete faith.” Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? It’s not though, is it? I believe that what these are really saying though is that we should not allow these to get in our way. We can start to eliminate doubt and fear by exercising faith and courage.

Herein lays the crux of the matter. I believe that many of us don’t have a true understanding of what faith and courage really mean. When we feel fear, we wish we had more courage so that we would not be afraid. We then allow that to stop us from doing what should or needs to be done. We know that we could accomplish great things if only we had more faith, but we allow our doubts to hold us back. However, that demonstrates somewhat of a misunderstanding of what faith and courage are. These are action words, not simply a state of mind. Let me explain.

We often think that if we have fear, it means that we lack courage. That lack of courage then becomes a stumbling block. “I can’t do that because I’m afraid.” I maintain that where there is no fear, there can be no courage. Here is an example. Suppose you had to walk across a mine field (active explosives hidden in the ground). If you didn’t know it was a mine field, would it take courage to traverse it? Of course not. Suppose you had a death wish or you were so confident that you could avoid the mines that you didn’t feel any fear. A death wish or overconfidence certainly shouldn’t be confused with courage. The only time that it would require courage to walk across that mine field is if you knew that it was a mine field and you feared death and dismemberment. Courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is acting in spite of your fear. Courage is to be afraid of doing something but doing it anyway.

Does it take courage to drive a car? For most of us, it is not a great act of courage to get in our car and drive somewhere. When you first started to learning to drive, it did take courage, because it was a scary thing to do. If you’ve been in a serious accident or had a loved one killed in a car accident, it can take great courage to drive a car, because now there is fear. Does it take courage to mow your lawn? For most people, it’s no big deal. For me, it was never a fearful thing. But a number of years ago, I had a serious accident mowing the lawn. For a while after that, I had to hire others to mow my lawn. I remember the first time I mowed the lawn after my accident. I was practically trembling. But I pushed through the fear. I exercised courage by mowing it anyway. Each time thereafter, it got easier. Now it doesn’t bother me a great deal, although a small amount of fear remains.

What about faith? Is it the absence of doubt? If you know something for certain, there is no need for faith. Faith is the action of moving forward with something in spite of not knowing for sure what will happen.

So if you feel fear or doubt, don’t think that you lack courage or faith. Act on what you know. Do what you can do. Courage and faith are action words. Practice doing them. Start small if you must. Do what you’re afraid to do and you will be building and exercising courage. This will bring you strength of character and help you to achieve a great deal more in life.

Another thing you can do is to remove some of the emotional baggage that is getting in your way. An effective means to accomplish this is with The Emotion Code.

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2 Responses to “Courage and Fear”

  1. dray0308 Says:

    Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    Fear can push you to incredible heights or it can completely cripple your life. This post discusses fear and courage. Enjoy!

  2. The Parable of the Minefield | Dr. Whittaker's Blog Says:

    […] (The foregoing is an expansion of an idea published in my blog 9/11/15. It can be found at https://drdonwhittaker.com/2015/09/11/courage-and-fear/.) […]

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