3 Foundations of Courage – How to Create Momentum

How Do You Define Courage?

Do you think you are courageous? I know I didn’t think I was. A couple of years ago, I found myself curled up in my bed, depressed.

I had a good life. I had a reliable job and a nice place to live. I had friends around me. And I felt guilty about being depressed.

Deep inside, I knew that I was meant for more but I felt paralyzed to make a change because I didn’t have a clear vision of how to move forward.

I remember wrapping my arms around my knees and hugging them to my chest. I was so afraid to move forward, but I knew that I could not continue living a “good” life when my spirit longed to be free. I wanted to express my greatness!

You may feel the same way I did. Maybe not. You may doubt that same greatness lies within you or you may have absolute confidence in it.

No matter what your situation is, courage is the common denominator when it comes to success. Let me share what I did to move from depression to momentum.

Courage Is…

Fundamentally courage means taking responsibility for your life.

When I lay in my bed, depressed with a “good” life that I felt was going nowhere, the first step out of the quagmire was to start to take responsibility.

What can I do right this minute that will make me feel happy? I thought. What will help me to feel connected to my purpose?

Instinctively, I sat up, flipped on the light and grabbed a notebook that was nearby. I started writing a conversation with myself. I wrote all the advice that I knew the “best version” of myself would give me. I wrote it all down. My hand cramped and I didn’t lay down my pen till nearly 3 a.m.

It was a small step, but it was the first step in taking responsibility for where I was in life.

Courage means exercising the strength to see life as it is, to see yourself as you are, to see life as you would like it to be and to take action consistent with that vision.

Why do I say that courage means being able to see life and yourself as they are? Honestly? Because most of us do not.

If you think about it, you usually view life according to one of two extremes. You either look at your life from a “fantasy-land” perspective. You fail to take action because you’re afraid you will fracture the fantasy. The other extreme is that you see your life worse than it really is. You look at the circumstances of your life and wonder, what’s the point?

Did you notice that the results of both ways of being in the world are the same? Paralysis.
Why is this?

Fear.

Fear keeps you from moving forward in both examples. So courage is looking at life how it really is. The next question is “how?”

None of us can be completely objective in our own experiences. Here are some tips that can help you, however.

1. The Courage to See Life As It Is

  • Look Through Someone Else’s “Lens”

Take a look at your life from someone else’s perspective. You can gain perspective from another person by listening for their observation of you and your circumstances. The key with this practice is not to solicit a response. In other words, don’t go around asking people, “What do you think of me/my situation?”

This is where most people flub up. They go around soliciting all sorts of input from our friends, loved ones and even strangers. Everyone has an opinion. You will find that when you fill your mind with the opinions of others, you will just feel more confused.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The reason this happens is that most of us want to maintain equilibrium in our lives. Your friends and family are no different. They do not really want you making major changes or shifts in your life which might upset their view of their own life and how you fit into it.

  • What Are Your Stories?

Human beings tell stories. We tell stories about ourselves, our lives and our circumstances. And we trust our stories and believe that they are the truth. Because we believe them to be true, they often manifest in our lives as truth. The more we believe them, the more substantiating circumstances appear in our experience to “prove” to us that our stories are true.

I had all sorts of stories about what I was worth and about what I could accomplish. When I started writing that night, I remember thinking, I’m just going to suspend my beliefs about what’s possible for me while I write.

Day after day, page upon page flowed out of me. Suddenly, someone asked, “Are you writing a book?”

I hadn’t planned on it being a book at all. I was writing for the sheer joy of writing, but that’s what it was turning into. That single question gave me a view through someone else’s “lens,” and I started to craft a new story about myself.

Soon, I was telling my friends and colleagues, “I’m writing a book.” I was finally doing my “important” work–the work I felt I was meant to do.

If you can become aware of your stories, you have a much better perspective on yourself and life. Awareness automatically provides an opportunity to decide if the story serves you or not. If not, you have the chance to choose a different story to tell.

2. The Courage To See The Life You Desire

Let me make a helpful distinction between a vision of the life you desire and a fantasy created for the purpose of escape.

If you spend your time daydreaming of “if only…” and “what if…?” situations, then you are probably living in a fantasy. The purpose of creating a vision of the life you desire is not to escape reality; it is to create a new one.
If you spend your valuable time and energy dreaming of a past that will never return or of a future that will never appear, then you are wasting your life.

Creating a vision of the life you desire means looking clearly at your present life and making a decision to change it. It does not mean wishing for it to change. It means taking responsibility for the present and deciding to create something different going forward.

This is much more challenging than simple daydreaming, because it requires you to take absolute responsibility for everything in your life. It also requires you to take responsibility for the life you want to create.

3. The Courage to Take Action

Most of us automatically think of taking action when we think about courage. But unless you exercise the first two steps in the process (i.e., do the internal work), you will be far less successful producing the results you are looking for.

Almost as soon as I started writing–and decided that I was writing a book–the next question was “how?” That’s when the doubt came!

You don’t know anything about real writing.
You don’t have any connections in the publishing industry.
What if no one wants to read a thing you write?

The doubts began to fill my head. I was facing fear of my own insecurities and each was clamoring for attention.
How will it all come together? I wondered.

This is what I did.

  • Take the Step You Can See

It’s easy to get distracted making lists and plans and projections. Do your homework, but then focus, unwavering, on taking the step you can see. There’s an amazing thing that happens when you take the step you can see. More steps are revealed to you.

  • Clarify Your Purpose

As you start moving forward, you’ll gain more insight, experience and information. Keep clear on your goal, but constantly clarify your purpose. When you get results you don’t want, lay aside the actions and tools that created those results and pick up new or different ones.

  • Keep Moving

Don’t stop moving. Even when you face obstacles and hurdles, don’t stop moving. Don’t allow your fear or uncertainty to trap you into a immobility. If you keep moving, the path will eventually open up for you. It has to. It’s the way of everything.

Eventually, I finished my book. It took a lot of determination and effort, but the pieces fell into place, one step at a time.

The Bottom Line for You

The main point is that you don’t think you have courage. Or you don’t think you have enough courage. That’s horsepucky!

Don’t mistake courage for valor. Every human being has the capacity for courage.

Courage is exercised every day in small decisions that you make when you decide to take responsibility for your own life.

Be strong. Be confident. Live courageously!

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About Steve Rice

Steve Rice is the owner of True Spiritual Awakening. He is an author and entrepreneur committed to creating a well-lived life and helping others to do the same by helping them bridge the gap between abstract philosophy and practical, hands-on tools which, together, create a life of momentum. You can follow him on twitter or connect on Facebook.

Comments

  1. What an amazing post Steve! This really resonates with me a lot. I believe life is a journey. You can go through the journey and really experience life or you can live life comfortably by society’s expectations. By deciding to go on a journey, it really helps you define your core purpose and your visions. But most people don’t have the COURAGE to go through that journey. But that’s what life’s all about. It’s about having new experiences and always expanding your comfort zone. When you see a vision or have a dream, the courage to chase it and make it reality is one of the most powerful thing life offers. It’s what makes you “free” and discovering your potential as a human being. Enlightened post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Huy, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your kind words.

      So much of life really is about expectations…whose we allow to influence our lives. You’re right…most people don’t have the courage to truly live…and that’s sad.

      Love your positive outlook and energy. Shine on!

  2. The coolest part of this article for me, Steve, is that you “accidentally” wrote a book! How many people sit around and “wish” they could write a book, or “plan” to write a book and never get around to it? And here, you just lived your life and ended up writing your way into a book. That is SO cool :)

    Come to think of it, that’s how I started my coaching business. I started a blog for fun, and next thing I knew it had become my livelihood (and I let go of being a lawyer, which was my former career).

    To me, these are stories in trusting the flow of Life, that it is guiding us where we need to go if only we will trust our present-moment inspirations :)

    cheers,
    Erika

    • What an awesome story, Erika! Thanks for sharing it! Yes, one of the insights that I share in my book is that of taking the “next visible step”. It seems like common sense, but it really is a simple technique to get moving…just take the next step you can see. That’s what I did, and after all the steps were taken, I had published my book.

      your insight about trusting life’s flow is dead-on! I agree 110% Don’t know where we learn to distrust Life, but it always has our best interests at heart.

  3. Thanks for that powerful sharing, Steve. It’s easy to blame the world for our problems. It takes courage to face the truth by looking inward. Ambrose Redmoon advised, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than the fear.” When we assign meaningful purpose to our lives, we make the judgment that joyful success is more important than fear. Now we find all the courage we need to face any adversity that tries to stop us from succeeding.

    • Thanks, Rob! You’re the second person to bring up the Redmoon quote. I’d never heard it before and so I’m SO grateful to each of you for recommending it to me. I’m going to memorize it. So appreciative. Sending you massive gratitude.

      I love your insight about assigning meaningful purpose to our lives and using that as the fuel for finding the courage to face our adversities.

      Thank you again for your comment!

  4. Thanks for this great post. It is so true than most of us are living in a fantasy world, to varying degrees. It is very hard to admit it, because even the admission can fracture the fantasy. But once the first fracture is there, the rest is sure to crumble. Once I saw the truth of my own fantasy, it started an avalanche of transformation that continues to this day. Really appreciate the depth of this, thanks.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Ronen.

      Isn’t it amazing how empowering it is to be mindful of the fantasy? When we recognize the story that we are telling, then we become the wielders of it (instead of being manipulated by it).

      I appreciate your insight.

  5. ah – i had the same experience. only when i took responsibility for my life and depression did i start to get better!
    Noch Noch

    • Wow, that’s great. So glad that you were able to take control and create a better experience for yourself. Thank you SO much for stopping by and sharing your confirmation of this experience.

  6. Thank you for your inspirational article – it is so clear and practical – it has motivated me to move from wishful thinking to taking responsibility for the future I desire to have.

    • Wow, Margi! This inspires me so much. I’m so proud of you. What motivated you to make the change? How do you plan to implement practical changes? what does “take responsibility for the future I desire” mean to you? What actions are you committed to in order to make your vision reality? Just curious about application of the theory in a practical sense in your life. I’m always interested to learn from others.

  7. I loved this article! Thank you.
    when we let our fear take control, we end up doing nothing, whereas if we take one baby step everyday, we end up accomplishing great things.

    • Hi, Nikky!

      You’re so right…letting fear take control results in paralysis. One step at a time is the way to break up the “log jam” and get things moving. The challenge is always taking that step, isn’t it?

      Thanks for your kind comment.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. As far as being depressed (which you mentioned in the beginning), according to Rational Optimism TM — which we teach at The One World Initiative — all difficulties that we experience in life, including depression, are simply catalysts for greater growth and development. It seems that your growth and progress too was incited by an initial feeling of depression… Sometimes our next steps for growth and prosperity or happiness and love, etc can’t be achieved without first experiencing something like depression, for instance. Despite their difficulties, even what we call ‘negative’ experiences are necessary steps in our growth toward greater godlikeness (wisdom, intelligence, creativity, prosperity, etc). We even wrote a post titled “Depression is a Glorious Gift”… Steve, we invite you to check it out and let us know your thoughts.

    • I agree, Cece. I think that our “difficulties” are an invitation from infinite Source to experience ourselves as we really are instead of how we believe we may be.

      I will look at your site, and search out that post. Thanks for chiming in here! :) Appreciate your perspective.

  9. This is a great way to view courage, at least one aspect of it: “Courage means exercising the strength to see life as it is, to see yourself as you are, to see life as you would like it to be and to take action consistent with that vision.”

    When we take action to change, we are certainly exercising the courage necessary to make that change. We often fear change. Any step we take against the winds of that fear is an act of courage.

    Thanks for that reminder, Steve.

    • Hi, Ken.

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your insight. I agree that one of the biggest fears we face consistently is the fear of change. We are afraid of what will happen to us or our stability if we embrace it.

      You’re right…any step we take in the right direction is building our courage.

  10. Thanks, Steve. I think that was exactly what I NEEDED to hear today. I’m wrestling with a decision, whether to cancel my website or not. I’m discouraged, and I need to face the responsibility of my part. Another door (related to it) seems to be opening.. and going through it will take some courage, too.
    I just joined recently, and already you’ve given me value. Thanks again.

    • That is so wonderful, Rosemary. Hang in there. Spend some time in quiet and listen to what your intuition is telling you. Gather all the information you can and then make the decision that you know is right for you. Even if it’s a hard decision, you will feel instantly a sense of “relief” or that a weight is lifted.

      I don’t know your situation, but might you keep your website up while you explore the new opportunity that lies in front of you?

      So glad you found value. You can do this!

  11. My favorite quotation is from Ambrose Redmoon: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.

    It’s what I look to when I need to see the next step and to keep going. For clarifying, I go to Simon Sinek’s TED talk on Why.

    We tend to thing of courage as fearlessness, but it’s so much more and so much less, all at once.

    • I LOVE that quote, Kathryn! Thanks for sharing. I’d never heard it. I will memorize and use this.

      Hmmm…meditating on your last statement. There’s something really profound there: “We…think of courage as fearlessness, but it’s so much more and so much less, all at once.” — Love that. Thank you SO much for sharing your wisdom!

  12. Love it, Steve…. I’m in a transitional period myself and think that every sentence I write about my story is moving me towards where I need to be. Thank you.

    • Glad this connected with ya, Robyn! Push through! You can do this. I’m so glad you’re using your story as a tool for transformation and momentum in your life. You are exactly where you need to be. Remember that where you are, God is…and you’re enough.

  13. Great post, Steve. It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer, the courage to change is HUGE. I don’t think people realize what it takes to dig in deep and make changes. Good for you! You found the courage and took action.

    • Thanks, Loran. I hadn’t thought of the Serenity Prayer in some time. That’s exactly what it’s about. I appreciate the encouragement.

  14. Enjoyed your article Steve! I’ve been there – but I was a kid at the time. I grew up in a house where the curtains remained shut tight and we were never allowed to have friends over – which was no problem because with all the secrecy I never had any – bullying isn’t a new phenomenon. I remember hearing a song by Frank Sanatra, something about crawling in a hole and pulling the world in after you, and for years I dreamed of finding a way to do that. By the time I finally walked out a ‘free’ 18 year old I swore, no matter how scary things got, I’d never spend my life hiding behind closed doors. If something makes me nervous or fearful, I tend to focus right on that thing first … I won’t live my life being afraid :-) Good luck with your book!

    • Thanks, Marquita. Wow…we have these life-altering experiences that truly affect how we “go at” life. I love your method of facing the thing you’re nervous about head-on.

      I tend to do that, but it’s more out of a motivation to reduce the discomfort. I know that the fastest way to feel better is to face whatever the issue is and deal with it. Plus, when I’m taking action, it seems that creating some psychological or physical action creates momentum and momentarily distracts me from the drama the fear is wrapped in.

      Do you find this as well? What is your primary motivation for going directly at something? Is it just pure determination?

  15. Victor Magenda says:

    In my life i believe every thing i want in my life i can get because is there for me,Thank you very much for your post

    • That’s a super perspective to carry through life, Victor. Thank you for sharing it. It really is there for you. It’s just having the courage to take it. It seems that you are well on your way!