Where can I find courage

Courage: meaning, types, advantages + tips for more courage in life

Take courage! Who dares? Who has so much courage? An old word that stands for more than courage. Such people are not only willing to take risks, to make sacrifices - they are determined to do so. The much-invoked and admired character trait that enables us to overcome dangers and fears is rare, however. The appeal for more courage and determination sounds good, for rolled up sleeves, for visions and for a new departure. But the implementation also requires independence in thinking, awareness of values ​​and emotional maturity and strength. But how can you gain more courage?

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Meaning: How do psychology and philosophy define courage?

Courage is the quality of a person who overcomes fears, dares to do something and acts despite resistance, insecurities and dangers. Originally the term “courage” comes from the Indo-European “mo” (Germanic moda), which means something like “to strive”, “to be strong will”, “to strive hard for something”. In the High Middle Ages, courage was celebrated in epic poems and minnesong as nobleness and virtue, which were primarily characterized by knights. They were "without fear or blame".

It is a misconceptionthat brave people are fearless. You know fear and acute feelings of fear - courage and fear are by no means mutually exclusive. Courage, however, helps to leave fear and hesitation behind, to show fearlessness and thus to (again) gain freedom of action. Or as Francois Mitterand once put it:

Courage does not mean not to be afraid, but rather to overcome that fear.

Rather, the opposite of courage is cowardice: the exaggerated fear and lack of confidence. The Greek philosopher Aristotle put it this way:

So the cowardly hopes too little because he shrinks from everything.

Different types of courage

If you want to make a difference, grow beyond yourself and ascend, you have to act courageously. Courage also means being aware of your abilities and your own strength. In psychology, courage describes the ability to cope with a situation even though there is potential danger. Not necessarily for life and limb, but a situation with uncertainties in which a person is insecure.

The psychologist and educator Siegbert A. Warwitz found a nice comparison by contrasting the braking factor fear with the driving factor courage. Courage can be fed by a wide variety of emotions. Curiosity can be a driving force, but also indignation - for example in the face of unjust behavior.

Thus there are several types of daring or courage, as courage is also called synonymously:

In addition, there is generosity, gentleness, long-suffering, arrogance, melancholy, frankness, fickleness, arrogance or courage to fight - and of course moral courage ...

What do we need courage for?

"Success depends on courage", Theodor Fontane recognized. Only courage enables integrity, honesty, creativity and trust. Without courage, there would be no own opinion, no unconventional decisions, no breaking out of the routine, no pioneering spirit, no growth.

Courage is the engine of all economic activity. And an indispensable part of everyday work:

  • Leading courageously can mean standing up and telling the truth when you need to.
  • But it also means enduring the truth when things get uncomfortable and admitting your own mistakes.
  • It can mean entrusting responsibility to your employees.
  • Or to draw a line when the time comes and maybe even stand up for your own convictions - regardless of your career.

“How can you be so brave?” Some ask. At the same time, it is a truism that, for example, managing means nothing more than making decisions whose outcome is uncertain, because in our complex world too many variables reduce almost every calculation to a bet. The brave still decides. But by no means blind, rather his decisive trait is to "overcome these risks by sight", wrote Jean Paul.

Courage is the combination of reason, knowledge and optimism: You are brave if you are aware of the risk, reflect and calculate - but also act consistently afterwards. Unfortunately, courage is often like a luxury good: everyone admires it, but hardly anyone can afford it.

Why do some lose their courage?

While some people are very brave and do not allow themselves to be intimidated by great challenges, others are significantly more cautious. But why do some lack courage? There are two main reasons:

  • Pronounced pessimism

    An important trait of courage is to look optimistically into the future: The brave believes in his success, in his - as it is called in psychology - coping abilities. That is exactly what the discouraged cannot do. Instead, they envision possible consequences and not even try to change things. This is also the reason why some lose heart.

  • Low resilience

    Bad experiences in the past can also make you feel discouraged. Despite great effort, determination and courage, things turned out differently and they failed. Not just once, but two, three or many times. Such setbacks not only take away (emotional) strength. They wear down and make you feel more and more discouraged over time: Why be brave when you always get a bloody nose for it?

Pessimism and a lack of resilience tend to lead to a wait-and-see, persistent position. Those affected make themselves dependent on past crises, but not on future opportunities. In short: the view to the rear blocks the view to the front.

Despondent: The Ostrich Effect

The well-known behavioral economist George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon University was the first to describe the behavior of investors who would rather bury their heads in the sand when the stock market turns bearish: wait, sit out and hope, even though the stock market is skyrocketing - in technical terms this strategy is also known as the ostrich effect or ostrich policy (Ostrich is the English word for ostrich).

The fatal thing about this effect, however, is: Once we find ourselves in this state of shock, we become resistant to any new information, warning or advice. But above all: we become passive like the rabbit in front of the queue.

The solution to this is as banal as it is incredibly difficult to implement: not close your eyes and through, but open your eyes and directly towards it; speak out instead of hushing up; act instead of waiting; Take the bull by the horns instead of throwing red towels. Realistically, there are only two things that prevent us from doing this: our pride and a lack of courage.

Test of courage: can courage be learned?

To a certain extent: yes. Courage can be learned if you want to. Psychologists like to compare courage with a muscle: the more you train on it, the stronger it gets. Bravery doesn't get worse because it's less difficult. Everyone secretly admires courageous people. Because they stand out from the hesitant crowd. Daring people, if they are not exactly foolhardy, are a pleasure to follow. Her courage gives friends courage - and intimidates opponents by transferring their own fear to the opponent.

Ultimately, however, courage is above all a question of will: You have to want to be brave. On the other hand, those who constantly shy away from conflict and do not make bold demands are not only selling themselves below their value. Avoiding any risk destroys all opportunities. The beautiful sentence comes from the ex-minister Heinz Riesenhuber:

Whoever arranges his life in such a way that he can never fall on his face can only crawl on his stomach.

Better to stand up straight and have courage. To win without risk is to win without glory.

Of course, the same applies here: The dose makes the poison. Overconfidence can hurt. Even the vernacular knows: Exuberance is seldom good. Incidentally, this is also a finding from the (real) Bible: pride comes before the fall.

Benefits of more courage

It is known from psychology that certain character traits encourage courage. This includes:

  • Openness,
  • Conscientiousness,
  • Sociability and
  • emotional stability.

Compatibility, one of the Big Five, the five most important personality traits, is hardly pronounced in courageous people. You could also say: They don't care what others think of you. Therefore they are emotionally and spiritually independent and free for new things.

Anyone who persists in anxiety and fear, must be clear about it: Everything has its price. Also fear, hesitation and doubt. Many people prefer to look for excuses and justifications in order not to have to take the necessary step (immediately). The reasons put forward often sound smart and plausible. But they cost.

Every time we delay something, it not only increases our guilty conscience and stress. We also feed our self-doubts and fears with it. Until they block us completely or even turn into veritable phobias.

Since courage is above all an attitude, i.e. a matter of attitude, you can turn the tables and not imagine the worst. Rather, you can become more courageous by encouraging yourself, reflecting on decisions (and their consequences) more realistically, and simply allowing yourself to make mistakes or fail. In the end, you will gain more confidence.

Tips for more courage

Finally, of course, we would like to give you a few tips to help you develop more courage. In addition to having the right attitude and mindset, these steps can help you gain courage:

  • Overcome inhibitions

    Inhibition thresholds are blockages that arise from experiences, habits and high expectations. The first step will be difficult for you, it will probably require the most willpower on your way to become more courageous: To do this, focus only on the goal to which the step is supposed to lead - not on the fear of the consequences. So the inhibition thresholds decrease.

  • Mistrust mistrust

    The distrust of our abilities develops from situations in which our trust has already been disappointed. Through other people or through ourselves. It is a protective shield that serves to prevent others from getting too close, motto: If you have no expectations or always assume the worst, you cannot be disappointed. You should learn to trust yourself more - especially your own abilities. Better to distrust your distrust. Mostly it is unfounded. This also reduces fear of the consequences and you can move more courageously towards your goal.

  • Become more independent

    Without the fear of falling out of the ordinary, the existence of a social group would be unthinkable. We want to feel we belong - and thus also accepted by others. The other side of the coin is that we depend on the opinion of others. If this dependency gets out of hand, it blocks our courage. Every decision, every action is first passed through a kind of social filter: How will the others then think of me? But it is true: you can never please everyone anyway. To become more courageous, you need to learn and accept that there are always people who upset you and who may turn away from you.

  • Practice mind hygiene

    Our thoughts massively determine our actions. Do you like to talk about “mega problems”, “catastrophic numbers”, “terrible disasters”? Not? Well. Because disaster speakers are also disaster thinkers. Such exaggerated XXL language creates a feeling of powerlessness all the more. Mark Aurel, Roman emperor and philosopher, already aptly formulated the principle: “The happiness of life depends on the nature of your thoughts. Our life is the product of our thoughts ”.

  • Shed perfectionism

    Most of the time, perfectionism hides the need for applause, recognition and protection from abuse and shame - it is the attempt to do your best, which is motivated by external circumstances. Don't think in such black and white categories - just because something isn't perfect doesn't mean it has to be a total failure. Rather, it is precisely the many mistakes that characterize courageous people. Because you dare and undertake more, you will achieve more. Courage then comes even from the ability to learn from those mistakes.

  • Start small

    Are you about to have an interview or a presentation and do you not speak so often in front of a large audience? Then start small first. Practice at home, let your friends and family listen, get used to the sound of your voice, then the audience. This will make you safer and reduce the fear of failure.

  • Set deadlines

    Use the 72-hour rule: You have to start everything you plan to do in the next 72 hours, otherwise the probability that you will take this step drops to one percent. Make an appointment with the dentist or the boss. If you want to have a serious conversation with a friend or family member, arrange a meeting and go there - preferably as soon as possible so that you don't have to think about it and your determination doesn't wane.

  • Get support

    Talking helps. If you are aware of the risks and consequences but still do not have the courage to take the first step, talk to someone about it. Explain your motives, speak your pros and cons out loud. Even if there is a risk that the interlocutor does not agree, expressing your motivation brings it to life. And you are braver yourself.

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May 17, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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