This concept is simple but potentially very impactful if you can implement it. The idea is to make courage a habit. What does that mean exactly? Let’s define our terms:
Courage, I think, is best imagined as simply a decision in a moment. You find yourself in a situation with a choice to make and there is anxiety, trepidation, or some other form of fear. Courage is making the right decision in spite of the fear. Examples might be speaking up about something you believe in, going “against the crowd”, making a big life decision, or telling someone honestly how you feel about them. It’s conceptually simple and to some degree we all understand it intuitively, but difficult to put into practice.
(Video includes the same info as this post.)
A habit is an action or set of actions performed regularly and that are well-integrated into normal patters of behaviour. At first it takes discipline and willpower to form a new habit, then over time it becomes routine and automatic. I’m going to define a habit as fully formed when it is easier to do the action than not do it.
Many people experience this with exercise. They start exercising and at first they hate it. They persist, it becomes “OK”, then they persist some more and eventually exercise is habitual or even an addiction. If you’re one of these people, you probably feel like something is wrong or “off” if you haven’t exercised in a while. It is easier for you to do it than not – that means the habit is fully developed.
If you take a mildly woo-woo view of subjectivity (which I do), you might imagine that fear around an action is actually a pretty good indication that you should take that action. This is especially true when nothing serious is at risk (and maybe sometimes when it is). Following this line of reasoning, it is precisely because you are afraid to do something that you should do it.
While it’s hard to see an actual causal mechanism here, this does seem true experientially. And it’s at least true enough for enough people that the value of overcoming fear has become somewhat of a trite idea. Nonetheless, it works and overcoming fear actually is a pretty reliable way to move forward in life. Why does it work this way? I don’t know.
But the more you do it, the closer you get to developing courage as a habit. It builds like a muscle, then at some point you get over the hump and it is easier to do it than not do it. Wouldn’t that be something?
Good luck :)