Courage is not the absence of fear


A new year lies before us. A vast empty space of days yet to be occupied.  Emotions yet to be felt.  Adventures yet to be approached. Decisions yet to be made. Somewhere in all of this we will all no doubt, be called upon to confront something that requires us to dig deep and look for courage.

There is a tendency to think that people who posses great courage posses no fear. This is never the case.  Courage does not represent the absence of fear but rather the ability to feel that fear and move through it.  It is the ability to recognise that feeling of fear within us.  To accept it and sit with it a while before deciding that you are more than the fear.  That you will not allow that fear to decide your future and fate.

Fear is, after all, just a self created feeling based on a belief that you don’t have the capacity to overcome a perceived experience.  Fear bases itself on you believing that an experience will occur in the way that your mind imagines.  Yet we have no proof of this.  We have no grounds for assuming an experience will happen in a certain way. Then we further assume that we don’t have the ability to cope with the experience happening in the way we assume.  Two assumptions and neither of them true.  One stacked on top of the other making a mountain out of nothing.  Fear is an inability to see things as they really are.

We fear broken hearts and broken bones but both will mend.  Imagine if we lived in a world where we all feared broken hearts so much we never loved.  Some people do. They close down after the first heartbreak and never live again.  The shut themselves off from the experience and yet to not love is to not live.  Fear does not attach itself only to life momentous events.  Fear creeps in to the mundane.  The invitation to a dinner where you only know the host.  A class at gym you have never before attended.  Driving to places yet undiscovered by you and your wheels.  Filling in your tax return.  Taking a flight.  We say ‘I can’t do that’ to ourselves constantly because of fear…..but what if we try…..and what if we can.

Courage is the ability to recognise that fear is an illusion and having the grace to move past that illusion.  It is realising that the beauty of being human is that we can choose how we react to life.  Courage is not denying that we feel the fear.  It is transforming the way we allow it to wound us.  It is a fight with the enemy within ourselves.  If we let fear win we might as well say no to life.  We miss experiencing all the exquisite joy that is to be found on the other side of our perception.

It takes great courage to accept life fully.  To say yes to everything that it might offer. To let it unfold in the way that it wants and to surrender to that experience. Courage is an openness that allows all of life’s wonder in.  An openness that makes space for all of what makes being human so breathtaking beautiful.

I have made a steely promise to myself that all of this year will be faced with courage and grace.  That I will not allow my mind to make assumptions on how things will be. That I will surrender to what comes my way.  That I will not say no to an experience. That I will approach it all with an open heart and mind.  That I will not let an illusion decide my fate.

I do not imagine this will be easy.  I all to easily feel the rumblings of fear and allow my effervescent mind to take me to places I do not want to travel.  It will take courage to sit with those thoughts until they dim their piercing light but I am going to try.

I am going to try because courage brings joy and fear takes it away.


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