Courage is NOT the absence of fear.
Courage is NOT the presence of bravery.
"Courage" actually comes from a Latin word meaning heart.
And, even though one definition is "the ability to do something that frightens", I like the definition "strength in the presence of pain or fear."
We get the idea, that a courageous person is someone who powers through fear. Or that somehow the courageous person has more innate bravery than the rest of us. Yet, I've learned that true courage is strength of heart - not just action.
The little prefix -dis is powerful. It reverses or negates whatever comes after it. It is a word that means something has happened to change the environment and attitude. Whatever once was, is no longer.
If today. you are DIScouraged, it means at one time you had courage. At one time, you had heart. And today, your strength is waning. How can we get our heart back? How can we have courage again?
5 WAYS TO GET YOUR COURAGE BACK
1) Where Are Your Affections?
"The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection: love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc. These affections are the "spring of action," the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities." Jonathan Edwards
When we are deeply moved by someone or something, we are energized at our core. Whether the feelings are joyous or angry - we are inspired to action.
Where are your affections these days? If you're like many people, you've been lulled to sleep by the mundane acts of every day life. Sleepy people are not courageous. Sleepy people resist being moved out of their comfortable state.
2:00 pm is almost always my lowest time of energy. Given the chance, I'll snuggle down into my chair and doze off. Not on purpose - it just happens.
Many people wander through life with a 2:00 pm nap mentality.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What used to move me to action?
- When was the last time I felt joy or anger? What was it about?
- How can I recover that energized feeling again?
- What is something I see in the world around me that I would like to change?
- How can I become involved in the process of change?
2) Who Moved Your Cheese?
Have you read Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese"*
It's a fabulous parable about responding to life WHEN (not if) it changes.
Has life knocked you down? Are you disappointed because of the way things are going for you? Did you expect a promotion - an increase in clients - a best-selling book - a trip to Hawaii - and it didn't happen?
In the book, Hem and Haw become slower and slower in their daily trek for cheese because they expect it to be their waiting for them. When it isn't there, they sit and wait for it to show up, instead of looking for new cheese.
Maybe it's time for you to look for new cheese, so to speak.
If what you are doing isn't working anymore - do something different.
3) Use the Next 20 Seconds
"You embarrass yourself if you say something. You embarrass yourself if you don't."
20 seconds can seem like a lifetime when you are looking for the power of Strength of Heart (aka courage.)
It's like jumping off the high-dive for the first, second or third time. The longer you stand on the edge, the further away the water seems; the deeper and more dangerous the water appears.
Instead, take the leap. Get it over with. Do the THING!
You will live through the next 20 seconds whether you act on your courageous intent or not. Will you regret you didn't or regret you did? Yes.
4) Claim the Promise of Courage
"This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
Maybe you're in a Joshua-like experience.
You've found yourself in a position of leadership or you know you need to step out of your behind-the-scenes kind of life.
Joshua was happy being Moses' right-hand man. He's barely even mentioned in the entire Exodus story. Except when he and Caleb had some of that "20-Seconds-of-Insane-Courage" attitude when the children of Israel first walked up to the Promised Land.
But for the next forty years, all we hear about Joshua is that he followed Moses around.
Maybe you've been in the background for a long time. Perhaps it is YOUR time to step into the spotlight.
Everything you've been through has prepared you for what you are about to do. Not one piece of your life is irrelevant or irredeemable. Now is the time to take hold of the promise! It's time to obey the command.
- Be Strong
- Be Courageous
- Don't be afraid.
- Don't be discouraged.
- The LORD your God is with YOU WHEREVER you go!
5) Pick One
Listen, you don't have to do EVERYTHING. You just need to do ONE thing.
Often we can get overwhelmed by the anticipation of a moment of courage - strength of heart - action. We start thinking about everything that might or might not happen.
We often project our past failures. We rarely project our past successes.
If it's been awhile since your last act of courage - start small. But start.
Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds. You didn't gain the weight in a week. You won't lose it in a month. Pick one healthy thing today. Have courage. Decide to use strength of heart to say NO to donuts!
Maybe you want to start a new online business. Buy a web domain for $10. Don't worry about what you'll put on it. Buy "yourname.com". It's always a good idea to own your own name as a domain name. Now, if you have a common name, like Sue Smith, someone else may have gotten there first. If someone else has your name, buy your name with your middle initial - or your nickname.
Do you want to learn a new skill? Check out the courses coming up at your local college or online. Pick one and register!
Write out your dreams and put them in a dream jar or dream box. Pick out one a day and read it. Remind yourself of why it is important to you.
5) Strength of Heart
"A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others."
In the Wizard of Oz, we know that the Tin Man was always a loving, compassionate soul. He just didn't realize it. He needed some sort of proof in order to believe what everyone else knew to be true.
Within you, is great courage. You are already a woman with great strength of heart. If you need someone to believe in you - I do. I bet the people who REALLY know you do, too. It's time for YOU to believe it.
Live At Your Best! Live Inspired!
Are you ready to be courageous and take the next step?