You can either show up for the moment. Or succumb to it.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s moving through the fear to achieve a goal that’s more important than ourselves. Merriam-Webster defines courage as the “Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.”
It’s a willingness to confront our own demons and self-preservation in order to fight evil.
I see it every day in my patients and how they deal with issues in their live or those of loved ones and friends. We have such an incredible capacity for empathy, compassion, warmth and love. Those are the tools we use to garner strength and resilience.
There are several different types of courage.
The strength and perseverance of those devastated by war, whether that’s the loss of a limb, traumatic brain injury or those told they have a terminal disease and still do whatever it takes to not just survive but thrive.
Or the willingness to put yourself in danger and overcome personal fears to save others. Law enforcement and firefighters do this every time they enter a burning building or face a gun. Soldiers sign up knowing they could pay the ultimate price for their country.
Looking within to face our fears and feelings of inadequacy directly without burying our heads in the sand and pretending they don’t exist or lashing out at others when we feel threatened. Learning how to express ourselves clearly without getting defensive or angry.
Leaving friends and family alone to deal with health-related issues or aging when we are too uncomfortable to acknowledge their existence. I’m saddened and frustrated by the number of older patients who come to appointments alone, scared and overwhelmed by their needs. Many are incapable of keeping themselves safe or making sure they understand their medications and medical concerns.
Not making it clear a lie is a lie. There are no “alternative truths.” Science is science. A means to prove a hypothesis with hard data. Allowing others to deceive and manipulate the facts so that hundreds or thousands might die in the pursuit of power or money.
The willingness to ask hard questions, acknowledge when we don’t have all the answers and productively challenge the status quo.
Not standing up for the little guy being bullied on social media for fear you’ll be next. Or using such anonymity to spew garbage into the internet without consequences.
Speaking out against social injustice, bigotry, racism, hatred. . .with both words and action.
Ultimately doing what’s right even when it might threaten our safety.
Silence is an action.
When silence reverberates throughout a room after an ethnic slur or inappropriate joke fills it up, a conscious decision was made – don’t react. Silence is just another form of acceptance. By not speaking out you’ve effectively condoned the behavior. All too often we don’t shout, “stop” because we want to belong or fear reprisals.
Opening ourselves up to different beliefs, religions and perspectives without judgment.
The willingness to delve inside and overcome personal fears. To look openly and honestly at hard and fast beliefs that keep us tied to what others think and believe. Questioning values when they demonize groups of people and the ability to change our minds when truth demands it.
It’s never easy, but in the end, following your own heart and not the whims of people or circumstances is a powerful feeling. It’s not the big fights or stands we take but our resilience and strength to fight another day. Knowing every minute we move forward is a moment we progress.
Sometimes courage is just getting up every day to face whatever challenges exist.
Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the silent voice at the end of the day that says,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
Acknowledging when we screwed up, admitting we need help, letting the tears flow, trusting again, saying “I’m sorry” or making it clear you are no longer willing to forgo your needs just to have a relationship is hard. But that’s often the only true path to growth and a better future.
We all have courage. We show it every day we face our challenges and keep on moving. Every day we take care of ourselves, our loved ones and those around us. I see it every day in countless ways. It reinforces what I already knew to be true- the boundless depth of the human soul and the goodness it can generate.