What do you think of when you hear the word ‘courage’? Or maybe the better question is who do you think of? Does the word bring to mind a movie hero or heroine, fighting against the odds to prevail for the sake of all that is good? Maybe you imagine Poldark riding in to save the day? Or Katniss Everdeen delivering a rousing speech to unite the districts? Often the word courage brings to mind bold, heroic feats, but how often do we consider the quiet, everyday courage of ordinary people going about their lives?
Chatting with a friend this week we touched on just this subject. She said she didn’t feel brave, or courageous because she was scared. Yet the definition of courage is just that – someone who persists despite feeling fear. Courage then is not the act of going on without fear, but continuing despite it.
When we consider courage in these terms, we become aware that it is present all around us in even the most mundane seeming of everyday occurrences. Those people who get up each day and do what they need to do, despite dealing with horrendous anxiety. The people who decide to make a change in their lives and walk away from everything they know to do it. The people in difficult or abusive relationships surviving each day, or even deciding to break out of the situation.
So often my clients tell me they feel weak or ashamed for seeking therapeutic help and I find this fascinating. To me they are courageous – facing the problems they experience and working to resolve and move past them. Often they have tried other therapies without success and still they turn up and work to make the changes they desire happen. Sometimes they stumble in their journey and they pick themselves up and continue. They may battle feelings of fear, shame, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, grief and more and still they persist.
So I ask you, is this not the definition of courage? Yes, it’s a quieter version of courage without the theatrics, the soundtrack and the pyrotechnics, but it is still courage. And, in this definition of courage, how are you courageously going about your day?
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