When I was young, I used to read a book series by the same author of the Sweet Valley High franchise. The novel series was called Fearless and it centered around the protagonist Gaia, a girl born without the “fear gene”. As you might expect of this genre, it was geared towards teens, so when Gaia wasn’t using her martial arts training to get herself and her friends out of danger from the plot twists that ensued by way of her twin father and uncles’ involvement in risky covert organizations, she was just trying to be a normal teenage girl. And of course, young as I was, I did not have to suspend my disbelief about where emotions like fear biologically originate. It was indeed a very dramatic book series that I waited patiently every month to get my next fix of, but I remember being fascinated with this concept that Gaia always struggled with when contemplating her condition. She recognized that her inability to experience fear left her equally unable to experience courage and she was constantly intrigued and envious of others’ ability to experience this quality she longed to understand.
It’s not uncommon in my coaching work for a client to admit that they are changing their behaviors based on fear – fear of what will happen if they don’t change their eating habits, if they don’t start exercising, if they continue with the status quo. In coaching, sometimes we might explore what the client believes will happen if nothing changes, and a lot of times, the outcome is worrisome, frustrating, and unappealing. Throughout these conversations, the unwavering truth remains – if nothing changes, nothing will change.
I recently wrote about willpower and how it’s like a muscle that strengthens with effort and time. Courage is the same – a learned behavior – a skill that can be strengthened and built up over time. Unlike Gaia in the Fearless series, you are capable of self-awareness of your fears. You can acknowledge the truth – the reality of what is – and you can face that truth, accept it, and take responsibility for it. Facing that truth takes courage.
When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending.Brené Brown
You have the capacity for courage and the ability to practice it and strengthen it. Resisting and avoiding your fears is certainly easier. It takes courage to face what you fear will happen if you don’t change.
What you do next is up to you. I personally enjoyed reading this James Clear article The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It. Clear offers practical and simple examples of “shifting your worry”. Read the article here. I am always gaining insight from his articles but my contribution here is that if you’re willing to make a change, you are demonstrating courage. You are courageous. That is, making your own decisions, deciding not to be led by fear, and becoming your authentic self in the process.
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