Sunday, March 9, 2008

Courage

Without fear there would be no need for courage. Being afraid does not mean we don’t have courage. Fear is a genetic instinct necessary for human survival. Courage is a learned behavior - there is no such thing as a born coward. It is possible to teach ourselves to have courage. The kind of courage it takes to achieve and maintain a sober mind is very conscious. It isn’t a knee jerk reaction. It is the ability to confront a situation and ask yourself, “If I take this action or decide to do nothing at all, what is the worst possible outcome, and can I live with it? To accept that I am not responsible for nor can I control the outcome once I have made the decision, I just need to have courage.

Many individuals in recovery were raised is very unstable homes. We spent a great deal of time feeling afraid. Often we were afraid for our physical safety or we experienced severe financial insecurity. Many of us feared disapproval and rejection from our parents or caregivers. These early childhood fears become a crippling force in our lives. As adults we are afraid of being alone, of rejection, of humiliation, of failure, of not having enough money, to mention a few. We have become skillful at avoiding what we fear, but by doing that we become its prisoner.

A courageous act may involve being honest and not agreeing with a friend or loved one and risking rejection; it may involve practicing being alone for short periods of time each day; it may involve trying something new and taking a risk. Courage doesn’t always require a heroic act. Sometimes it takes more courage to sit there and do nothing, like when we resist the impulse to enable a loved one. To watch someone we care for suffer the consequences of their own actions can require all the strength we can muster.

It is possible to acquire courage and overcome our fears; especially the one I believe is the greatest of all, the fear of asking for help. Participation in a twelve step program and/or psychotherapy can help us to identify our fears and develop skills for facing them courageously. Sharing our fears with someone we trust is an act of courage. Each little act of courage can build on itself and gradually liberate us from the immobility of fear.
Fear is not our enemy; we are born with the ability to fear in order to survive. We can use fear as an opportunity to grow and to develop courage, and to empower us to live a sober life.

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear."- Mark Twain

2 comments:

Jeanine said...

Wow. Thanks Rita, another one that hits home.

Anonymous said...

Agnes said....

Thank you Rita - again right on target.