The Truth About Courage

by Aileen

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“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
~ Anais Nin

Sometimes courage doesn’t feel strong and courageous. Sometimes it just feels like you’re doing something incredibly uncomfortable, scary or intimidating.

Sometimes courage feels anything but courageous, and often times it feels unsexy and unglamorous.

Often when I think of the word courage I see an image of the heroine from Hunger Games, and other images of warriors who swiftly move past fear to fight for their mission. Yet when I look at my own journey, obstacles, and challenges, I don’t often feel courageous. At times when I’m my most courageous, I’m shaking and I feel timid and small.

Regular “everyday courage” can look very different than an image of a warrior.

It might look like an agoraphobic walking outside and taking a walk around the block.

It might look like a shy person speaking up for themselves.

It might look like a person walking into a job interview, or a person walking out of a career.

It might look like a person pursuing their dreams even though they haven’t figured out how.

Along the journey towards our dreams we may find ourselves feeling doubtful, intimidated, and unsure. We may encounter uninvited situations and set-backs; we may make mistakes and find ourselves second guessing ourselves.

Courage is going from idea to action.

Courage is taking the next step no matter how much fear and doubt arise.

Courage is doing the things that are scary, and hard to do, regardless of how many times we stumble and stop or pause.

Courage is getting back up, and re-committing yet again.

Courage is moving forward when we’re not sure of how we’re going to it, or what lies ahead.

Courage is moving past fear, doubt, and insecurity and moving into action.

Courage is facing your fears no matter how massive you feel they  are.

Wherever you are along your journey, follow your dreams even when it’s messy. Taking the next steps, and the leaps of faith, can knock the breath out of us for a moment. Excuses may arise, and obstacles will show up. Courage is moving through it! The only way out of fear, is to take action. Just think, how much less stress we’d feel if we allowed ourselves to trust the process along the way.

Trust in yourself.

Trust your courage.

Yes, you do have it in you!

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance May 26, 2012

Aileen,
Great, great thoughts here today! Courage sure doesn’t always look like what we might see in the movies (or dream about). It is, though – just taking those steps for each of us – whatever they are – and moving forward with what has meaning for us.

And it is these seemingly small things (which really are necessarily all that small at all) which make such a difference in us really living our lives.

Thank you for the reminder of what courage truly looks like…
Lance´s last [type] ..Achieving Greatness Together

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Aileen May 29, 2012

Hi Lance. Thank you for your comment.
I truly understand how un-exciting small steps can be at time, but we do need the courage to move through each one and stay strong in faith as not to get discouraged since the journey often feels more filled obstacles than grand courageous feats.

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Vishnu May 26, 2012

Aileen, thanks for the encouragement. I know we sometimes don’t look at things we’re doing as courage. I’m living on a farm now (in Costa Rica of all places) and have to walk back to my own cabin at night through a path of bullfrogs and potentially snakes. So, I’d add to your list – sometimes walking home is courage:)

Even small things take a lot of courage and we should recognize how our past actions, previous confrontations and successes over fear as reminders when facing our current challenges, fears and uncertainties.

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Aileen May 29, 2012

How exiting and wonderful that you’re living on a farm in Costa Rica. :)
Yes, I would add walking home is courage. I would not want to be the one walking to my cabin in the dark with bullfrogs and snakes. That does take courage!

“we should recognize our past actions, previous confrontations and successes over fear as reminders when facing our current challenges, fears and uncertainties.” YES! Love that!

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Betsy at Zen Mama May 27, 2012

Thank you Aileen! I’ve had a few fears lately and I’ve needed a little encouragement. I’ve even written a fear lines as a beginning of post. You’ve put it all into perspective here. I like how you wrote that “Courage is moving past fear, doubt, and insecurity and moving into action.” That’s exactly what I’m going to do. You always feel better if you are moving forward and doing something! Thank you!!
Betsy at Zen Mama´s last [type] ..Become A Possibilitarian!

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Aileen May 29, 2012

Isn’t it amazing how we do feel better once we’re moving forward and taking some action. I don’t know why this still “wow’s” me, but it does. Too many times I’ve sat on the fence of fear or hesitation (out of fear/doubt) which made me feel awful – but the moment I stepped forward it got exiting and I felt better, encouraged, more alive.
Action does have a special magic to it.

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Paige | simple mindfulness May 27, 2012

It’s funny how courage never looks like courage when we’re doing it. After reading this it made me realize that courage is what others label our actions. When we’re doing it, it feels like doing something scary to push the limits of our comfort zone. Ultimately, it’s about taking action no matter what.
Paige | simple mindfulness´s last [type] ..How Committed Are You To Your Dreams?

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Aileen May 29, 2012

“courage is what others label our actions” – Yes, very true.

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David Stevens May 29, 2012

You are a Champion Aileen
Choosing ‘courage’ is one of the best choices one can make
be good to yourself
David
David Stevens´s last [type] ..Be your own Champion

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Aileen May 29, 2012

Thank you David :)

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Yaron June 7, 2012

just had to add this:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will allow it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. When the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear

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Aileen July 5, 2012

Oh wow, I love that quote. Thank you for adding that!

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Cathy Taughinbaugh June 7, 2012

Hi Aileen,

Courage is so empowering. When we are courageous, our confidence is front and center. At times, others may feel that we are courageous and we don’t realize what we’ve done until it’s over. I like your everyday examples of courage. Courage is different for each person. Thanks for an inspiring post!
Cathy Taughinbaugh´s last [type] ..Discover Your Intuition! An Interview with Angela Artemis

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Aileen July 5, 2012

“When we are courageous, our confidence is front and center” That’s the irony of it – so often people are waiting for confidence and wishing for confidence so they can be courageous. But they go hand in hand – one can’t wait for it, one must just stand up and be it.

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Galen Pearl June 9, 2012

So very very true. Two of the bravest people I know are two of my kids. Dan came to live with my family after his parents died. He was 14, autistic, and had just lost his whole world. His resilient spirit and courageous optimism saw us all through a difficult and sad time. My daughter Lily became part of my family when she was a teenager, too. Unlike Dan, though, she had control over her choice. She left her life and everything that was familiar to her in the country of her birth, and chose to begin a new life with us.

Courage comes in many forms. Lovely article.
Galen Pearl´s last [type] ..Pinocchio’s Wish

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Aileen July 5, 2012

Thank you for sharing these two incredible examples Galen!

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Clare Flourish July 2, 2012

mmm. Courage is doing what I find scary: the step I see both as too small- inadequate, not good enough- and too big- too scary to do.
Clare Flourish´s last [type] ..At camp

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Aileen July 5, 2012

I understand that web “the step I see both as too small- inadequate, not good enough- and too big- too scary to do.” – It’s incredibly empowering to walk through it.

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Theodore July 4, 2012

The only way out of fear is to take action…. Aileen, i strongly agree with you on that. What a wonderful post.
Please keep it up.

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Aileen July 5, 2012

Thank you Theodore. :)

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Jamie August 16, 2012

I love reading posts like this. I recently wrote a similar article and when I was thinking about courage and what it means, I came to the conclusion that at it’s most purest, courage is about pushing yourself.

Whether it’s to do something that scares you, something you are not used to doing or simply doing something that places someone else’s needs above your own.
Jamie´s last [type] ..How to find the courage you need

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Zakya April 21, 2014

I have missed you my frnied – I hope all is well. Why didn’t you tell me that you had a post on in courage?! I don’t go there very often anymore. I left a comment for you over there – your post was awesome – all your posts are awesome. I really do hope all is okay – in this time of transition – I hope all is okay. You have been in my prayers. God bless and keep you and all of yours Lass.

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