“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the perception that some things are more important to us than what we fear.” James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places
What is more important to you than what you fear? Standing up for your principles? Taking a risk that may get you closer to achieving your goal? We have a tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings in general, but especially the feeling of fear. On a functional level, fear is essential to our survival, an internal alarm system warning us to protect ourselves from a threat. But as human beings we also have a way of misdirecting or misinterpreting our fear leading to inaction.
When I received an opportunity to teach my first graduate level course in psychology, I became extremely fearful. I questioned whether I was too young, or too inexperienced, or too busy, and so on. But if I took fear out of the equation (mostly fear of rejection), and asked myself what was really important to me, I would say the opportunity was too important to pass up. It was a dream of mine to be a college professor. And so my desire, not only to be a teacher, but also to grow as a person and a professional, became more important to me than the anxiety or worry I felt. The courage was fueled by something that mattered to me more than the experience of fear.
Courage is required to be in an intimate relationship, to apply for a job, or to make any significant changes in life. How can you invite more tolerance of fear in your life so that you may take healthy risks, put yourself out there, or have the courage to let something go?