Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Courage and fear—the connection

Courage. It's something for which we all long. Have you ever berated yourself for not standing up to someone who treated you disrespectfully or put you down? Or for not standing up to someone who was mistreating or making fun of someone else in your presence? Or who spoke dismissively of something you hold dear? We want to be courageous and true to ourselves and our beliefs.

As Sister Joan Chittister says in her book Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, "Courage is the counterpart of honesty. It counts character more important than acceptance. ... Courage also implies our willingness to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. It requires that we learn to accept our limitations and to live within our boundaries."

And here's the part that stopped me and really caused me to reflect: "Courage is not the lost part of ourselves; it is the hidden part of ourselves that only fear can energize. Fear is not the opposite of courage. Fear is the catalyst of courage."

It's not the opposite of courage—it's the catalyst! I'm not sure I'd really thought of it in that way before. But it is true. When we face our fears, whether it's the fear of not being accepted by someone if we speak up in defense of another or in defense of our beliefs or whether it's fear of moving ahead with a dream, we discover our courage. Fear truly is the catalyst. Fear can energize. And that tells me that my fears aren't necessarily a bad thing. It's what I do with my fear that either holds me back or offers possibilities for me.

I'd love to hear what you think in the Comment box below.

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