Call Up Your Courage

We all have courage. Rather than acquiring it, we need to cultivate it.

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Courage has been called the greatest of all the virtues. As Samuel Johnson pointed out, without courage, other virtues - modesty, prudence, justice - may be useless! Without courage, we risk getting paralysed and not making any move at all.

It may be tempting to think of courage in terms of heroic acts. If, however, I reflect on the times when I've seen others do courageous things, or even myself, it's often been everyday acts of bravery that have been the most striking. Little things that have been carried out in the face of fear are courageous. It might be giving someone some challenging feedback, asking for a pay rise or speaking to a family member when you're aware things have gone awry.

Many of us find talking about what matters deeply to us very daunting. A Big Conversation (as I call it) often calls for a great deal of courage. Whether we need to speak our truth, express how we are really feeling or stand up for ourselves, courage is what enables us to “stay in the room” and talk.

We all have courage. Rather than acquiring it, we need to cultivate it. Just as an athlete strengthens his or her muscles ready to run a marathon, the more we practise being courageous, the easier it becomes.

It helps to weigh up the risks and benefits of having that Big Conversation compared with not speaking out. Somewhat paradoxically, it is also worthwhile taking a good look at what scares us. When we understand our fears, they weaken and we can then free ourselves from their grip.

Courage is not bravado or recklessness. A courageous conversation means speaking from the heart, being sensitive to the other person and being willing to listen. All of this takes guts. When someone says something we don’t like or don’t want to hear, we may have to hold our nerve rather than turn away.

Being courageous in conversation also involves listening to ourselves. We all can find it challenging to reflect on our lives. We keep ourselves busy to avoid the silence in which our anxieties may overwhelm us. Facing our fears and finding the courage to talk is what can take us across the threshold into our next life chapter!

Sarah Rozenhuler

Consultant Psychologist, Bridgework Consulting Ltd