Meet Ashley! This woman is one that I have mostly admired from afar, though every moment I’ve actually shared with her was special because of her incredibly caring and warm and FUN personality. I remember reading her posts on Facebook and thinking, I.want.more!! Every single thing she wrote was from the heart and moved me. When I found out that she started a blog, I was over the moon! Here is a guest post, the FIRST guest post on CourageisintheLeap.com, by Ashley of alovelypursuit.com, Enjoy! Also, check out her Instagram @alovelypursuit for inspirational posts, a fun community of lovely people and adorable photos of her precious family!
6 Lessons on Fear for the Courage-Bent Heart
G.K. Chesterton said it best: Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
No child has ever said, “When I grow up, I want to be a weak minded coward.” Nope. Not one. And while I haven’t yet had the chance to survey the entire adolescent population, I would stake my life on that assumption.
A child dreams of greatness from the very beginning: astronauts, ballerinas, lawyers, athletes, mothers, singers, the list goes on and on. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what a child is going to be, all they know is they are going to be a great one. Children know no mediocrity. They only know joy, and purpose, and greatness.
So what creeps in as we grow that threatens our aspirations? What has sneakily made a home under our skin and told us greatness is a lost cause, the dragon is too big?
Well for starters, and a great big starter at that: Fear.
Fear is one of the greatest hindrances to a courage filled life.
Sure, plans change. I get it… I don’t want to be a lawyer and ballerina anymore (I was convinced I wouldn’t be just one or the other – but both, and probably at the exact same time!) It is one thing to change plans, grow into your dreams, or grow beyond them. It is a completely different thing to feel the pull of greatness (whatever that looks like for you) but refuse her invitation in fear.
You’re reading this article because two words stuck out to you: Fear and Courage. The fact that you are reading this article alone tells me something about you: not that you’re fearful… but that you are Courage-Bent.
Sure, there is fear in you, like there is in me; fear of things not working out, fear of being ashamed in your efforts. I bet there are days you want to give up, and just coast. But I have all my chips in on your desire to live courageously. That’s why you’re here.
Fear doesn’t have to be your enemy.
Fear can be a nasty bugger; I’m not going to deny that. Fear has stopped me from doing a thousand things in days past. But I have largely misunderstood fear, and as a result I’ve allowed it to hold me back.
It is my hope today that in bringing some truth to the issue of fear, the courage-bent heart in your chest will begin to lead the way instead. Because you see, understanding fear is like putting a sword in the hand of the dragon slayer.
Fear is a feeling.
Fear is first and foremost a feeling. The dictionary defines fear as:
An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Merriam Webster said it right there. Fear is an emotion. Like any other emotion fear is able to materialize into behaviors and actions, but only if we let it. We have to quit confusing feelings with actual fleshed out behaviors.
Feeling fearful and acting afraid are two totally different things. Don’t mistake feeling fearful with being a coward. You are still permitted to be brave while trembling in your bootstraps. Pursuing and overcoming while feeling terrified does not make you illegitimate… it makes you courageous.
Fear is appropriate.
When fear shows up, most often it is because there is a risk involved. The stakes are high. It would be illogical for you to have no strong response to an extreme situation or adventure. Fear is actually quite appropriate in many situations.
Understanding that fear is inevitable in light of greatness is the foundation of courage.
Courage can literally not exist without fear. So rather than allow feelings of fear to disqualify you, take it as a compliment when fear arises. Take it as an authentication of your pursuit. When you begin to feel afraid that’s your Courage Cue. It’s not time to hide away until the dragon moves past you. It’s time to dig deep and prepare to conquer.
You don’t have to remain feeling fearful, that’s what courage is for. Fear is all of those gut twisting, trembling, flight emotions you feel when a challenge presents itself! Courage then gets to rise up and fight. It is the ability to move forward and pursue greatness right in the midst of legitimate fearful feelings.
Knowledge is power.
Can I tell you something? If you walk in courage forcefully, eventually it will take over as your default setting. It will no longer feel like you’re armor doesn’t fit, and you’re being swallowed up by fake bravery. Rather, courage will begin to fit you perfectly. It will no longer be foreign, but rather a first responder.
This isn’t to say you won’t have any feelings of fear. You most certainly will. But, courage will begin to push fear out of the way as soon as it rears its gnarly little head.
Understanding your fear cues empowers your courage response.
Have you ever heard about the difference between reacting and responding? In essence reacting is an unprepared response. When intimidating forces show themselves, whether in the form of a great dream or a great trial, we have to know what our fear cues are in order to respond in courage. Otherwise you may find yourself 3 cartons deep in Rocky Road and hiding from your friends for two weeks (not that I know from experience.)
Fear cues can look like: Isolation, shrinking back, numbing (with substances, food, etc.), anxiety, and fighting – just to name a few. Learning your fear cues takes honesty and personal observation. But as you uncover your natural fear reactions, you can begin to prepare and practice your courage responses.
Personally, when I’m afraid, I freeze. I get anxiety and I don’t know how to even take a step forward. Because I know these are my fear cues, I have prepared my courage response!
My first courage response is to tell someone that I’m afraid, overwhelmed, and confused. This can be a direct conversation with my husband or in prayer, most often I do both closely together. My next response is to find a time to act (make a phone call, alone time to plan, or write.) I also find myself reading quotes that inspire me, listening to music to pump me up, and share with a close friend or family member once I begin my courageous response as accountability.
There is a wide variety of ways you can respond courageously. It’s a personal experience. The first step is learning your fearful reactions. The second step is preparing your courage response.
Pee a little. Then Slay.
Listen, you’re going to feel afraid. You are. When you see that dragon, when you see that big task in front of you, chances are you’re going to pee a little right there in your armor. It’s going to roar. It’s going to breathe some fire and you’re eyebrows might get singed. You may fight that dragon with pee caught in your armor and one eyebrow. But even then – battle wounds, trembling knees, shaking hands, never let a little fear disqualify you. You take that courage-bent heart, you hold that sword, and you slay. Every fairy tale has a dragon, and dragons are meant to be beaten.