The Definition of Real Courage


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Real courage is not something you are born with, but something you learn to do as you face the challenges of life. Courage is an important asset, revealing itself as firmness of mind, in the face of danger, or extreme difficulty. We don’t all have the courage to leap across an abyss, but just being YOU takes real bravery.

The root word for courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. Courage originally meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all in one’s heart.’ Not the wisest of ways to live, for that could lead you into big trouble.

Highest form of Courage

Aristotle said that the highest form of courage was to face the greatest fear, death, for the most selfless reason. He was relating this to soldering, but for each of us the fear of death is a reality that takes courage to face, for it is the great unknown.

However, bravery is when you simply deal with the difficulties that life throws your way. You are allowed to lose your cool from time to time, but your basic equilibrium remains. Real courage is when you get up and keep going, even after having fallen down.

Courage Versus Fear

Bravery is not the absence of fear, but taking action and proceeding forward despite fear or adversity. Fear is a reaction, while courage is a decision. In my thinking, there is no such thing as ‘accidental courage’. You always have a choice, no matter what situation you find yourself in. You make the choice to stay and help or choose to run away.

It is okay to experience fear, but it is courageous to choose to act. Not yielding to adversity, means allowing yourself to become vulnerable. So many unsung heroes exist, of people who have refused to allow disability to define who they are.

Real Courage is Facing your Fear

To allow fear to be the ruling factor in your life is to have no confidence in yourself or your ability. We all have fears, and it is not a failure to own up to them, but courageous people push through their fear. Nothing tried is nothing gained and there is no gain without pain.

Courage is understanding what you are afraid of and refusing that fear to paralyze you. Being brave is when you make active choices, knowing your purpose and focusing on a distinctive action. This can be a subconscious action, as when a mother reacts instinctively when a child is in danger, or hurt. Bravery is putting others before yourself, sometimes to your own detriment. Just take a look at motherhood.

Eight Types of Courage

Experts say there are eight types of courage. Physical, social, moral, emotional, empathetic, disciplined, intellectual and spiritual courage. However, bravery is more far-reaching than just being placed into eight nice, neat boxes. Like most things in our modern world, it has many facets.

Just ask Google how to do something, particularly if it is related to technology, and you will be given numerous ways to do it. It doesn’t matter that you can’t understand most of what they tell you, the fact is, there are many roads to arrive at the same destination.

Physical Courage

This is when you keep going with resilience, balance and awareness and keep moving forward, despite the circumstances. It takes grit, perseverance and determination. It is knowing your purpose, making active choices, and focusing. It means taking a leap of faith when you are not sure you will safely reach the other side.

Think of how much courage it takes for a child to take that first step. That is real courage. The child is so focused on the result it doesn’t give up with the first failure. Eventually, it gains confidence and with practice soon walks without even thinking about it. The goal is the motivating factor and so it is when it comes to courage. The journey may have heaps of bumps and detours, but the end result is the deciding factor.

Social Courage

This requires you to be yourself and unapologetically stand by what you believe to be the truth. There are numerous social issues in this day and age, but you need to remain true to what your basic ethics are. A courageous person does not condemn someone else for having a different set of values, but it doesn’t mean you have to adopt what they believe.

Yet, we live in an era of false information versus true information. At times it is difficult to discern which is which and there are so many rabbit holes to tumble down. Education plays a big role in this, besides keeping a balanced outlook on life. Social media has a lot to answer for in this department.

Moral Courage

This is doing the right thing even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular. This is similar to social courage, as it means having beliefs in the very core of your being and not being afraid to stand up for them. ‘Have the courage of your convictions,’ doesn’t mean you have to rush out and join a demonstration, but something you do almost unconsciously.

As people get to know you, they should be able to see what you stand for. Reading my articles, I have no doubt you have a pretty good understanding of what I stand for and I make no apology for that. As I so often repeat, we all have a unique voice. It’s up to us what we use that voice for as we fulfil our different roles in society, be it as a mother, wife, friend, aunty, sister, grandmother, casual acquaintance, etc.

Emotional Courage

This is all about openly feeling your emotions, both positive and negative, without guilt or attachment. Letting things go takes courage.

Emotional courage also means giving yourself time to heal when bad things happen. That healing process is individual for everyone.

Emotional courage also means following your heart and reaching for your dreams and not feeling condemned if you have reached for the stars but only hit the mountains. At least you had the courage to give it a go and hindsight is always 20/20 vision. The vital thing about emotional courage is to not let our memories destroy today. You can’t change the past, so let it go. Forgiveness is one of your greatest assets.

Empathetic Courage

This is acknowledging that we have personal biases and intentionally move away from them in order to sympathetically experience the trials and triumphs of others. Empathetic courage is when we value others above ourselves. We all have grief experiences, so a little sympathy for others, particularly in times of grief, goes a long way. Collective grief is a good example of this.

Empathy is also a precious gift, for it allows us to recognize courage in others and be inspired by what they stand for, say or do. That is why we take a look at what others have achieved, at Whispering Encouragement.

Disciplined Courage

This is remaining steadfast, strategic and deliberate, in the face of inevitable setbacks and failures. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again,’ is the old saying. Not everything we try will come off, so have the courage to put it aside, or simply try again. I find technology frustrating! I have to keep trying to come to an understanding of technology and not give up, because my grandsons can do it so much easier than I can. They give me instructions so quickly, I have trouble following what they did.

Disciplined courage is something we develop through practice. When we first took my great-grandson to a swimming pool, he screamed his head off. It took a lot of discipline on his part and patience on ours, before he became comfortable in the water. Now he doesn’t even think about diving into a pool. Disciplined courage in the face of failure is real courage.

Intellectual Courage

This is when you challenge old assumptions, or take action to make change, based on new information, understanding, or insight. This can be gleaned either from education, or experience and research.

Just because our mother did something a certain way, doesn’t mean that is what we have to do it that way. She lived in a different world. My mother never used a mobile phone or flew in a jet aircraft. Not only that, we live in a world where they claim that knowledge is doubled every 12 hours. That is nothing short of scary when you consider in 1945 it took 25 years for knowledge to double.

Who remembers when salesmen used to go house to house selling encyclopedias? That sounds as if it came from the dark ages, yet it is only a few decades ago. Today we just talk to Google. What students are taught today in school is redundant by the time that student graduates.

Spiritual Courage

To have spiritual courage is to live with purpose and meaning, with a heart-centred approach towards life and oneself. It gives you the ability and discipline to face suffering, or difficulties with dignity, or faith. Believing that there are better days ahead, despite your current circumstances. You should not let your current standing dictate who the real you is.

It is also reaching out beyond yourself. We are all limited in one way or another, but we do have the internal and infinite gift of being able to reach out to others. Pride is the main deterrent to this one.

What is the Definition of Real Courage

The definition of real courage is the ability to not give up when things don’t turn out the way you expect it. True memories are not something that are full of ‘If only…. I wish I hadn’t…. Why didn’t I……’

It is saying yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not come, so I must use today to its fullest and give of my best. No one can ask any more of you and it seems, just being a woman is courageous. You have a unique voice, use it with courage. Long after you leave a room, your voice is still being heard, whether or not you are aware of it.

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