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Recently, I completed a High Ropes course as part of a day of adventure activity. It was scary—so much so that at one point I was in tears, convinced that I could not go any further and completely incapable of retracing my steps over the section that had shaken me.
But, with encouragement from others in the group, I calmed down, overcame my fear and went on to enjoy the rest of the course.
Afterwards, I cheered some of the others on as they took their turn. One of the instructors commented on how brave two of the guys were; they were flying round the course, as nimble as goats, on their third go.
My response to the instructor: “Those guys are fearless, not brave.”
Not to knock their fearlessness—I also admired it—but bravery is something else entirely.
I pointed to the woman in front of them, who was terrified and slowly challenging herself to complete her first round. She was brave.
It brought to mind Mark Twain’s quote:
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”
She and I, and a few others in the group, had to really dig deep to get through.
There were several stages on that course when I was nearly paralyzed with fear and had to recite the mantra, “I can do it” over and over to get myself through.
But I did it. We all did it.
It reminded me that we all have courage muscles, and we flex them every time we look fear in the eye and choose to overcome it.
Like all muscles, our courage gets weak and flabby when not used. But we can choose to strengthen it; it just takes recognizing when fear is tightening its grip and making a conscious decision to loosen it.
And when those occasions arise, a few quotes can help stir up the necessary gumption.
So, for those who might be facing challenging times, I’ve rooted out a few of my favorites. I hope they help:
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” ~ Jack Canfield
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller
“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.” ~ Alex Karras
“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” ~ Rollo May
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victor Hansen
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ William Shedd
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To me, there is no greater act of courage than being the one who kisses first.” ~ Janeane Garofalo
“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” ~ Epicurus
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~ Winston Churchill
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (Christopher Robin to Pooh) ~ A.A. Milne
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Remember, the whole point of courage is that we first feel scared. Feel the fear and do it anyway; that is how we develop courage.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: J Ridgeway/Flickr