Courage isn’t a virtue that we just all of sudden wake up with one day. It takes life-long experience and intentional awareness to walk with courage.
For many people this happens naturally as we try new things, push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, and grow in our relationships, career, and spirituality.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that what you used to fear no longer causes you the same level of anxiety or concern.
When we face our fears we learn that they weren’t as menacing and paralyzing as we once thought.
We are able to conquer them and in doing so can become more courageous.
We learn that much of our fear is simply:
Irrational fear comes from our perspective of risk, which can be different for each person. Courage is similar and can be defined as “a subjective experience where an actor perceives risk, experiences fear, and overcomes those fears to act (Hannah et. al, 2007).”
Our subjective experience of risk and fear can change as we grow as a person, and as we expand our perception of ourselves and our purpose.
We start to realize that much of our fear is just in our mind, and at this point we can begin to develop a more courageous mindset.
So, what is a courageous mindset, and how to we get it?
Here is the framework and elements for a courageous mindset:
Openness to experience – When open to new experiences, we are more likely to step out on a limb and take chances. We are more likely to accept different options and experience less stress due to our flexibility.
Conscientiousness – There is a relationship between this trait and a sense of duty. This sense of duty can lead us to take committed action when required.
Self-evaluation traits – This includes self-esteem, self-efficacy, and our locus of control. Consider if you feel you are capable of doing what needs to be done? Or if you feel a sense of control over what will happen and your actions? If so, you are more likely to be courageous.
Hope – Someone with high levels of hope will have reduced fear as they will view the potential outcome in a more encouraging manner. When dealing with a problem they will likely think of more alternative solutions and will be spurred to take action.
Resiliency – When set-backs emerge, resiliency allows us to rebound and cope with the struggle. Resiliency gives us courage to not give up despite the challenge.
Values and Beliefs
One’s values and beliefs will directly impact their response and behavior in a given situation. Values such as: integrity, honor, valor, independence, duty, selflessness, and loyalty all relate to greater courage.
When these types of values are important to us, we will be reminded and motivated to take action when these come into question.
This includes influences of social identity and cohesiveness to a group. Courage may come from taking action based on a role where we are expected to perform the duty or feel an obligation to fill this role.
All of these conditions come together to provide a more courageous and hardy spirit. The more we begin to cultivate and reinforce these characteristics, the more courageous we can become.
What area can you begin developing to nurture your courage?
Hannah, S. T., Sweeney, P. J., & Lester, P. B. (2007). Toward a courageous mindset: The subjective act and experience of courage. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2 (2), 129-135.