Do you ever wake up feeling anxious? Or overwhelmed for reasons you can’t exactly put your finger on? Like you don’t quite have control over your life and the whole thing would be so much easier if you didn’t aspire to anything?
When we’re feeling out of sorts with a deadline fast approaching, our unease is easy to understand. We have a set number of things to do to prepare. There’s the worry our efforts might get a negative reception. Or we are not the right person for the job.
A worry we can name is concrete. We know what’s causing it and can create an action plan for dealing with it. With work we can chip away at it bit by bit.
When we have a pervading feeling of anxiety, we can’t pin on something specific, it’s much harder to deal with. How can we possibly fight a monster we cannot see? We know the feeling of unease wakes up with us and follows us around all day long. What we don’t realize is, one of the possible things often lurking underneath that anxiety is a worry waiting to be named and dealt with.
From unspecified to specified
Getting to the bottom of ambiguous fears takes time and effort. It starts with probing self-questions. When did the fear start? Does it have something to do with a new life situation? A specific person? Personal feelings of inadequacy?
To answer those questions it’s important to sit with the anxiety, even if it feels uncomfortable. Breathe into it. Separate the large unnamed worry into smaller identifiable chunks. The act of searching will help you find what you’re looking for.
Once you can name your worries or fears and look them in the face you can take steps to deal with them.
If you look up the definition of courage in the dictionary it won’t say A lack of fear or The ability to push forward no matter what the obstacles.
It will say, The ability to do something that frightens one. And, Strength in the face of pain or grief.
There’s a lot to be afraid of
Some people go forward in life with no fear, but the vast majority of us are afraid of doing something for the first time. We’re worried about failing in front of others. That we are not capable of doing whatever it is we set out to do. Fear is natural. It’s beneficial. Fear forces us to try harder. It makes us double, triple check our work.
Accomplished professionals still afraid
People aren’t only fearful the first time they do something. Even those who are professionals in their field still face fear. We all know even the most famous actors have to deal with stage fright. A cliff diver who has dived off untold numbers of cliffs during their career probably still feels a twinge of – something right before leaping headfirst into a faraway pool of blue.
Most of us aren’t facing crowds of thousands of people or life-threatening leaps of faith, but our fear is just as real and just as relevant to us. It is also just as surmountable.
Great success of trying
There is a great feeling of self-worth and accomplishment when we push through and try despite our fears. If we succeed it’s fantastic, but it’s still great even if we fail. That’s because failure is a beginning. It’s a first step toward trying again and possible success in the future. Never trying is sure-fire failure. Saddling up despite our fears can take us to exciting new vistas.
The courage to run into a burning building
When you see images of a firefighter running into a burning building to save the lives of people trapped in there your heart races with worry and fear. You can’t believe the courage this firefighter summons from the depths of their being every day of their lives.
Courage you see and courage you don’t
Some people have courage written into their job descriptions like firefighters, soldiers, emergency room doctors. However, not all acts of courage are that obvious at first glance.
The writer who has had a manuscript rejected several times, goes back into the work for more revisions then sends it off to another publisher. A person who has developed a fear of highway driving because of a car accident faces their worst fear when they venture onto the on ramp. A mediocre student who decides to put all their brain power into studying for LSATs despite words of discouragement on all sides are all examples of unseen courage.
All shapes and sizes
Some of the greatest acts of courage are the ones no one ever sees. When someone is working toward a goal and they encounter failure after failure and still manage to come back and try again, that is great courage. Getting up when you’ve fallen, facing a co-worker who intimidates you, saying yes because it’s the right thing to do even when you would prefer to say no are all courageous acts of rebellion against the easy comforts of staying down, staying quiet, saying no.
Courage comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be loud as a lion and it can be quiet as a mouse. Courage is the ability to fail and try again. To be afraid and step forward anyway.