I heard a guy talking about how he lifted a burning plank of wood and carried it outside so the whole house wouldn’t burn down. He caught fire and was seriously injured in the process but he saved the house and others inside.
Now that, takes courage, I thought. I’d be more likely to run screaming from the house rather than run toward the fire.
But I did have a mammogram last week and I felt like that required a fair amount of courage to go for the test. I did take on an assignment I’m not sure I know how to do. I did say “No” when it would have been easier to say yes. And I do feel like all of these things take a certain amount of psychological courage.
I learned about psychological courage when I started researching my book Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People, (to be released this fall) and I realized how we are all courageous when we take an honest look at our lives and transcend the challenges before us.
When you decide to confront your limiting beliefs, be accountable for your bad behavior, and change destructive habits you are drawing on psychological courage.
When you quit your well-paying job to pursue a dream, when you leave the bad marriage, or decide to have another baby when you’ve lost a child, you are acting courageously.
All this stuff scares me just to think about. But to live with these and other challenges, to learn from them, and take focused action – even while feeling afraid – to transcend them will transform your life. Not only will you move through the muck you will become more authentic.
I’ll bet you’ve tapped into your reserves of psychological courage plenty of times, but probably never thought of yourself as courageous. Well, you are. And next time you’re feeling afraid, remember these three qualities can help you ramp up your psychological courage and carry you through.
Three qualities to help you develop psychological courage
Acceptance: Don’t go wishing away your life, deal with what is. The sooner you can take a clear-eyed look at what really is, the sooner you’ll have accurate information that will help move through it.
Awareness: Tune in to what is happening in the moment. Most of our fears come when we project out into the future. Become aware of what is occurring right now, stop creating a drama around what “might” happen, and then you’ll know what you need to do next.
Action: Pick one thing and act on it. You don’t have to solve all the problems in a day, but if you’re feeling scared about confronting your spouse, or getting into treatment or trying a new job, just take a baby step. Gather the phone numbers you need, talk to a friend, or write out the topics you want to address. Then, the next day take the next step. You can literally change your world one little step at a time.