Better By Monday: Courage Holds the Hand of Fear

In ancient times courage was one of four primary virtues, the others being wisdom, temperance and justice. Courage was seen as the most critical as it was thought the other virtues relied on the presence of courage before they could show up. In personal transformation work, such as counseling, courage is vital to progress. It’s not something found just in a moment of high anxiety or fear but is always there, awaiting access by any of us at any time.

“To summon our courage” is a wonderful phrase that gives away its true nature. It’s not always present, with us, but can be brought forward any time or in any situation. We DO, however, need to call for it and we DO need to pay attention to its voice.

Summoning courage has many recipes. For some it springs from commitment to something that has deep meaning. It energizes them to the point of actively (and easily, for them) demonstrating to others what they care about or what gives them purpose in their life. Without a depth of meaning you can engage some actions but they are more likely rooted in compliance, not commitment. And while there are thousands of charities or political causes with reliable supporters, not all of those people have a deep connection to their own true meaning and purpose which compels them to take time off from work to march in a demonstration or show resistance.

The other important aspect of courage worth thinking about is that it’s not at all a “me against you” concept. While dramatic literature and religion can often rely on narrative devices which emphasize courageous acts and conflict (man kills bad guy, saves girl etc. etc.) the more profound and powerful kind of courage is when we confront ourselves – who we are and what we might become – and question the whys and wherefores of life.

We can then undertake the fear-laden work of questioning the makeup of our character and embedded nature. It’s only when we summon the courage to take on our own certainties, beliefs, and long-held convictions that real change and new learning and personal growth can occur. When we stop thinking of win and lose for us in relation to others and dedicate ourselves to learning about what’s within that we can truly begin to change our wellbeing, sense of safety and self-worth, and how we engage with everyone every day – all for the better. And it’s well worth it, this tough internal work, because after this courageous journey comes contentment and compassion. And, not coincidentally, these are precursors to building the capacity for genuine love for yourself and then others.

Courage is not about being devoid of fear. Rather, it’s being aware of fear and still moving forward anyway. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it’s perfectly fine to reflect on your life and even make big decisions WHEN you are afraid, just not BECAUSE you are afraid. There’s a difference. The latter is blind reaction; the other is being fully present, focused, and committed. Best news of all is we all have the capacity to activate our own courage and let it lead us through life’s challenges – inside and outside.

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can do, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday: Write Out Your Worst

Better By MondayYes, write a list of your worries and/or fears down on a piece of paper and look at them. Keep the list focused on your biggies, probably not one, but not more than ten. Once you’ve done this put them away in a container or box.

Many religious, spiritual, and secular traditions around the world use worry mandalas, images, icons and figurines to allow people to mentally deposit their worries and fears and then move on with their day and their life. It’s a way of acknowledging their existence, treating them with the respect they deserve (meaning, they are of real concern to you) but also allowing you to LEAVE them be, for a time, and free yourself to get on with regular living.

For you it might be as simple as a daily or weekly list, folded and stored in an old shoe box or plastic container. You can replace the old one each time by throwing it away and depositing the new list. However, you may want to date them and keep them all. Any practice that works for you is what will work!

Try it! Just doing this simple activity can actually help you do better work, and enjoy relationships more because as you no longer carry the fears inside you the odds of them leaking (or screaming) out at random times is lowered. Leaking your fears onto others can inflict pain or confusion on those you love.

This isn’t denial. You are accounting for all of them by placing them on a list in a container – you are also creating a situation where they don’t upstage what you need to do (perform your best) for the present moment. You are taking back control of your choices and thoughts and giving space for the thinking you need most in the moments of your life you really want them to be pure and undiluted.

This is a practice, maybe too simplistic for some, to regain personal peace. But the very essence of freeing yourself from excessive fears and worries is an act of courage over something most within your control – your thoughts, how you animate them (with fears, emotion, wisdom, anger, etc. etc. etc.) and your choices around how to respond to, manage or simply influence them to regain a moment of peace.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., L.P.C.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can try, over the weekend, to feel a little bit better by Monday.

Zest of Life, LLC.