Courage and How More of it Could Change Your Life

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By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW

Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important that fear.”

If you were less fearful in your own life, what would change?  Would you be living your life more fully?  Living more to your potential?  Or are you already doing so?  According to dictionary.com, courage is defined as ‘the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain.’  So, apply this to your life.  The time you went on the roller coaster as a kid that scared you to death but you did it anyway.  That was courage.  What about the time you gave an oral presentation to your middle school class?  That may have been frightening too, but you did it.  Courage again.  What about all the times in your life, from the job interview to walking down the aisle to marriage, that may have kept you up many a night.  All of those occasions in your life, you faced your fears.  You were courageous.  Congratulations.  

So what about now?  What could you use a little courage for?  Would a little courage help you to speak out more to your children’s coaches and let them know you think your child should have more time on the field?  Would more courage help you to ask for a raise? Would it help you to ask for a raise?  Would it help you to better discipline your kids?  Would it help you to feel more confident?  All of the clients whom I’ve seen over the years, have expressed feeling more confident when they’ve faced their fears and not allowed them to be boulder-like obstacles in their way of growth.  According to Dr. James Prochaska, a psychologist who has studied human behavioral changes, there are five stages of change.  Read on and see where you fall in the spectrum:

Stage 1:  Precontemplation:  In other words, you don’t think you need to change anything significant.  (Denial). 

Stage 2:  Contemplation:  You think you may want to change something at some time, but are not too motivated to seek out ways to do so.  

Stage 3:  Preparation:  You have intentions to make a change and would like to do this soon (e.g.: I’m going to quit smoking next month) but this may never happen.

Stage 4:  Action:  You are truly doing something different to bring you closer to the change you want to see happen.  For example, you have actually joined a group to help you stop smoking and have attended a few sessions.  

Stage 5:  Maintenance:  You have accomplished your goal and now work each day to keep up the good work.  (e.g.: You no longer smoke but have to stay conscious to not pick up another cigarette one day.)

Where are you?  You, not your spouse or friend or family member.  This is not an opportunity for you to judge where your friends and family members are or where you think they should be.  Instead, use this as a way to ask yourself what you want to change, when you want this change, when you want to change it, and how badly you want this change to occur.  Also, ask what has stopped you all these years from doing what you want to do?  Maybe, a dose of courage could help get you there.

How does one get courage?  If you want to follow the yellow brick road and see the Wizard of Oz, maybe he can help you like he helped the lion.  But maybe, there is an easier way.  Maybe, you can ask yourself these questions and see what happens…

  • How important is this change?
  • What will happen if I don’t change?
  • Who will leave if I don’t change?
  • Who will stay in my life if I don’t change?
  • What will I lose if I don’t change?
  • What will I gain by not changing?
  • How will I feel about myself if I don’t change?
  • How will I feel about myself if I DO change?

No doubt, change is not easy; but I’ve seen people do it and know when one wants to, it is entirely possible.