Five Ways To Encourage Courage

July 30, 2008

True courage is not about being fearless. On the contrary, it’s about doing things even though we are afraid: afraid of failing, afraid of losing, afraid of getting hurt, or afraid of others not liking us. Courageous people take those risks because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s really important to them, or because it’s what they stand for. They know they may not succeed, and they know what the consequences are. Courage means doing things that are difficult, because we know in our hearts they are good, or right, or the best thing to do in the long run.
There is a big difference between the false macho bravery of accepting dangerous dares and foolish risks and the true inner strength it takes to stand up to peer pressure and be true to your own convictions. In other words, it takes a lot more courage to say no and be called a “chicken” than it does to follow the crowd and do something risky.

There is another side of courage that isn’t about doing what’s right or what’s best. It’s about taking chances and trying things we are afraid of so that we can experience life to its fullest. Everyone has dreams and visions of what they wish their life was like, but many of us are so limited by our fears, and unwilling to take risks, that we never get a chance to really live.

We miss out on true love for fear of being rejected. We stifle hurt feelings because we don’t want to appear sensitive, difficult, demanding, or unappreciative. We stay in disappointing relationships because we are afraid to be alone, afraid we can’t find anyone better, or afraid that others will think we failed. We would love to try singing or take up dancing, but we’re afraid we may not be very good at it. We hesitate to speak up at work, because we might be wrong. We are afraid to say what we really think or believe because others may not like us. We hide our weaknesses and our mistakes from our children because they just might see that we are human. We are slaves to our fears. They control us and they limit our ability to experience the richness of life.

Five Ways to Encourage Courage

The word encourage is a wonderful word. It means to give somebody hope, confidence, or courage, to urge somebody in a helpful way to do or be something. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you encourage your loved ones to conquer their fears.

1. Praise and reward your children for courageous behavior. Any behavior that takes courage; to do the right thing, the honest or the kind thing, is definitely worth honoring with a Candle of Honor at your family dinner table.

2. Talk about situations that involve courage and show respect and admiration for courageous behavior in others. Ask your children to think of situations at school or at home when it was difficult to make the “right” decision.

3. Model courageous behavior yourself, and openly talk about your fears and the importance of making the right decision even though you are afraid.

4. Teach your children that mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve. If a soccer player understands that statistically it takes ten attempts to successfully make a goal, then every time he misses, he knows he is one closer to getting it in.

5. Explain that preparation helps diminish fear and increases your chance of success because you know what you are doing. You’re ready and you feel more confident.


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