I don’t have much physical courage. My pain threshold is low, sudden loud noises upset me and intense atmospheres drain my energy … but this lack of obvious physical courage is compensated for in other areas where different expressions of courage are needed.
Courage comes in different forms
The attribute of ‘courage’ is usually interpreted in mainly physical terms. An internet search for images of ‘courage’ produces lots of extreme sports, feats of physical endurance and the overcoming of physical danger. Likewise, the premise of many television programmes is that people try to overcome their fears – and these are usually physical fears where the participants have to survive in or to overcome difficult circumstances.
This pervasive emphasis on the physical expression of courage tends to make us think of it in these terms more than any other.
Notice the less obvious forms of courage
But courage comes in other forms too and there are many situations in life where emotional, mental and spiritual courage are equally necessary. These expressions of courage may not be as obvious – or as exciting as the physical triumphs that we see on television – but they are just as important and just as powerful.
While physical courage is necessary in life, mental, emotional and spiritual courage are also vital in times of disappointment, heartbreak, loss, shock, confusion, illness, anxiety, ongoing pain, exhaustion, broken dreams, isolation, relentless pressure or any of the many challenging things that may be experienced over the course of a human life.
How do you understand what happens to you?
How you manage these testing times in life is influenced by your philosophical and spiritual approach to the world. If, for example, you believe that this earthly life is a random accident and that difficult things happen because you were unlucky, made the wrong decision or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can make the trying times in life more difficult to bear – as well as more difficult to overcome.
But if you understand life as purposeful and meaningful and that everything that happens, happens for a higher purpose, this approach can bring acceptance, peace of mind and even gratitude for how things unfold for you.
All forms of courage are necessary
When you use the difficult and painful times as opportunities to develop your character and to deepen your spiritual capacity, then you will always benefit in ways that are more lasting and sustainable.
It’s usually easy to see the wisdom and strength that comes when emotional, mental or spiritual courage are drawn upon and practiced. When you’ve come through a challenging time, it gives you the confidence to know that you can manage difficult times in the future – and it makes you more compassionate and better equipped to support others under similar circumstances.
As well as exercising your physical muscles, you also need to develop and strengthen your spiritual, emotional and mental muscles because all aspects of courage expand and enrich you.
Notice how brave you really are!
So, while physical courage is a good thing – and some recent medical circumstances have helped me to improve my own capacity in this area – it’s also good to develop and to value the more subtle and less obvious forms of courage.
Take notice of your own courage and its various expressions in your life – and you’ll see that you may be much braver than you ever realised!