The Courage to Live


The Courage to Live Consciously is a stupendously long article (this author is officially a long-talker) but the subject fit our recent trend of discussions, so let's have at it!

What is the hardest thing in the world for you to do?
What's something you wish you were good at?
What's something that you fail at a lot, but want to do well?
What's something you want to start now, but are kind of afraid of doing?
When have you been courageous or brave in your life? Stories?

Have you ever had any of these fears?
Fear of failure.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of going broke.
Fear of being alone.
Fear of humiliation.
Fear of public speaking.
Fear of being ostracized by family and friends.
Fear of physical discomfort.
Fear of regret.
Fear of success.

Why would sb. be afraid of success? Of being ostracized? Of being alone?

Can you admit that you're great?

What are some strategies you use to deal with fear? (Good or bad!)
We're often told to 'push through' fear, or 'smash' it, or 'face up to' fear. Do you think these are effective strategies?

Steve Pavlina says that fear points out where you need to go, it points out the next lesson you need to learn in life. Do you find this to be true in your life?

What do you think of his strategy for change by starting something in a corner of your life and nurturing it big enough till you can make it your main thing?
What might you want to grow?
There's a TED talk about building your experience by offering your services for free (not an internship). I find this to be an interesting and possibly effective strategy. What do you think about this strategy?

Let's look at these quotes below.
What strikes you about this?
What's your emotional reaction to this?
Do you agree? Disagree?

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
- Ambrose Redmoon
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
- Mark Twain
Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
- John Wayne

Condition yourself to be courageous
Courageous people are still afraid, but they don't let the fear paralyze them. People who lack courage will give into fear more often than not, which actually has the long-term effect of strengthening the fear. When you avoid facing a fear and then feel relieved that you escaped it, this acts as a psychological reward ... . You are literally conditioning yourself to become more timid and mouse-like.

Courage needs to be built, practiced
Courage, however, doesn't require that you take drastic action in these situations. Courage is a learned mental skill that you must condition, just as weight training strengthens your muscles. You wouldn't go into a gym for the first time and try to lift 300 pounds, so don't think that to be courageous you must tackle your most paralyzing fear right away.

Two ways to build courage
The first approach is analogous to progressive weight training. Start with weights you can lift but which are challenging for you, and then progressively train up to heavier and heavier weights as you grow stronger. So tackle your smallest fears first, and progressively train up to bigger and bigger fears. Training yourself to lift 300 pounds isn't so hard if you've already lifted 290.

The second approach to building courage is to acquire additional knowledge and skill within the domain of your fear. Confronting fears head-on can be helpful, but if your fear is largely due to ignorance and lack of skill, then you can usually reduce or eliminate the fear with information and training.
For example, if you're afraid to quit your job and start your own business, ... then start reading books and taking classes on how to start your own business. Spend an afternoon at your local library researching the subject, or do the research online. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and any relevant trade organizations in your field. Attend conferences. Build connections. Enlist the help of a mentor. Build your skill to the point where you start to feel confident that you could actually succeed, and this knowledge will help you act more boldly and courageously when you're ready.
This method is especially effective when a large part of your fear is due to the unknown. Often just reading a book or two on the subject will be enough to dispel the fear so that you're able to take action.

You have to practice courage
The exact process you use to build courage isn't important. What's important is that you consciously do it. Just as your muscles will atrophy if you don't regularly stress them, your courage will atrophy if you don't consistently challenge yourself to face down your fears. ... If you aren't regularly exercising your courage, then you are strengthening your fear by default; there is no middle ground. Just as your muscles automatically atrophy from lack of use, so your courage will automatically decay in the absence of conscious conditioning.

Fear points out where you need to grow
Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow. So when you encounter a new fear within yourself, celebrate it as an opportunity for growth, just as you would celebrate reaching a new personal best with strength training.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you admit you're great?
Catching a glimpse of your own greatness can be one of the most unsettling experiences imaginable. And even more disturbing is the awareness of the tremendous challenges that await you if you accept it. ... Going after your greatest and most ambitious dreams and experiencing failure and disappointment, running butt up against your most humbling human limitations instead of living with a comfortable padding of potential - these fears are common to us all.

Supporting and developing toward your new vision:
As you develop a sense of your true purpose in life, you may begin to feel an uneasy disconnect between your current life situation and the one you envision moving towards. These two worlds may seem so different to you that you cannot mentally conceive of how to build a bridge between them. How can you balance the practical reality of taking care of your third-dimensional obligations like earning money to pay your bills and taxes, pleasing your boss, raising your family, and maintaining social relationships with people who can't even relate to what you're experiencing vs. the new vision of yourself you desperately want to move towards? A whole host of new fears may crop up related to this seemingly impossible shift. How will you support yourself? What will become of your relationships? Are you just deluding yourself?

Start small, in a separate section of your life, and nurture it.
The best advice I can give you here is to forget about trying to build a bridge. Focus instead on [starting] as if it were a totally separate thread in your life. If this creates a temporary incongruence in your life, just do it anyway. ... You don't have to hide the fact that you're [doing the old job]... . Just start developing the new you, and allow the old one to continue in parallel for a while.

What will happen is that you'll develop skill in your new undertaking, and you'll eventually be able to support yourself from it, even if you can't see how to do so right away. ... Just begin it anyway, doing it for free,without any concern of how to turn it into a new full-time career. ... Then when the time is right, you'll be able to peacefully let go of the old career and focus all your energy on the new one. ... So instead of trying to transform your old career into your new one, just start the process of building your new one, and let your old one gradually fade. Even if you can only invest an hour a week in your new undertaking, you will probably discover that this hour is more fulfilling to you than all the other hours put together, and that passion will drive you to find a way to gradually grow this presence until it fills up most of your days. The most important thing is to begin now by introducing your new vision of yourself to your daily life, even if you can only initially do so in a small way.