A famous philosopher once said” courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible”. Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man. Sadly though, it’s one of the most neglected areas of positive psychology. However, recently research has begun to tilt toward an understanding of what courage is and how we might possibly be able to develop the ability to face our fear and make decisions with uncommon level of boldness.
Neurologists have been able to determine the workings of courage in the brain. They discovered a region called the subgenual Anterior Congulate Cortex (SGACC) which is primarily responsible for courageous acts leading to the exciting conclusion that this discovery could prove useful in the treatment of anxiety disorder one day. Other recent research on courage revealed that it’s not just all about facing fear, but also been able to cope with risk and uncertain situations, and it seems we can make ourselves to be more courageous with practice and effort, after all, it is said that practice makes perfect. So, the question now is how can we train our minds to act more courageously daily?
Below are 5 effective ways to loosen up the grip of fear on your life and live a more fulfilling and rewarding life.
1. Manage the effects of stress
Stress and fear work hand in hand. Feeling of stress is usually intense when there is fear of an imagined emotional or physical stress. For example, being unable to meet a deadline, fear of failure. Stress is known to be one of the major contributors to negative feelings like depression and anxiety.
A combination of exercise and meditation have the power to lower the stress level and reduce the feeling of depression and anxiety, which could gear you to act more courageously in the face of challenges.
2. Fear – A call to action
What are the things you fear most? Are they things outside your control or not? If what you fear is outside your control such as the effect of losing your job unexpectedly. Then it is time to write out your plans on how to manage it, if and when it happens. Once you’ve done that, it is time to move on and do your job without pressure or uncertainty.
However, if what you fear is within your control, then it is time for you to take that bold step and face your fear. The time to do whatever scares you is now. Are you afraid of sending that proposal for fear of rejection, or afraid to start that business for fear of failure? The time to start is now.
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows”
3. Practice the acts of courage
To build a courageous character, you must continually strengthen the muscle of courage. You can only develop courageous acts by performing them consistently. Psychologist Ben Dean wrote, “Courage is an ethical habit that we develop by repeatedly practicing acts of bravery”.
The rule of investment says ‘the higher the risk, the higher the return”. This is also applicable to fear, we sometimes get the most rewarding experience and benefits doing the things we fear most. A huge number of successful business men today left their jobs or dropped out of school to face the uncertainties of doing the things they love. That doesn’t mean the decision wasn’t hard at the time, but they have been able to retrain their brains to get past the momentary fear and push toward the payoff.
4. Do not substitute value for security
Many people today put up with the jobs they hate most, marriages that make them miserable, and habits that are killing them simply to remain in their comfort zones. You must learn to be courageous enough to do the things that will help you succeed rather than cling to the things that make you comfortable.
To conquer your fear, you must make conscious effort to relegate security as the thing you value most in your life and replace it with the active virtue of courage.
5. Know the difference between Fear and Prudence
Most fears are irrational and unreasonable. For example fear of losing out in a contract bid because of competitors, or starting your own business because you are not sure if you’ll succeed. It’s these unreasonable fears that have been holding you back from being more successful.
However, other reasonable fears that might be said to be prudent are for example, fear of importing contraband goods into the country, or fear of driving at night when you know you have a bad sight, which could be dangerous to you and other road users.
It is important, to know you’re not pretending to be prudent, when in reality you are afraid to take reasonable business risks or putting yourself on the line to do what’s necessary.