Where Does Courage Come From?

I want to do that, but I have no idea where I’m going to find the courage!

This is real folks.  People think this, say this, believe this and behave accordingly.  The other day, a young woman in her forties with a rolled scroll of precious problems including joint disease, extreme morbid obesity, nicotine dependence, depression, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, eczema, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart palpitations, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and polycystic ovarian disease – this woman told me these words.

I have no idea where I’m going to find the courage!

Where does courage come from?  Is there an odds ratio, statistics, intuition barometer or what?  Where do we find courage?  (I am remembering the dear Lion in The Wizard of Oz.)

I see courage coming from our ability to make decisions.  Being able to decide comes from many paradigms, including my favorites as broken down through the biopsychosocial model (listed in no particular order):

  • Biological – temperament (genes or personality,) mental health/brain health (the brain being the organ we use to make decisions with,) developmental (the neurodevelopment of the brain is different at different ages,) things we put in our body (diet, illicit drugs, alcohol or nicotine,) medical illnesses, sleep issues, exercise, rash, ingrown toe-nail….
  • Psychological – self-control, coping skills, catastrophizing, negative thinking, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors….
  • Sociological – culture (including home, religion, race, gender,) stressors on our body, social support, God, interpersonal relationships (friends, marriage, kids, colleagues,) parenting, unemployment….

(WHEW!  Recovering my breath.)

Where do we find courage?

I drew a picture in the air for her psychological self,

17th century

Image via Wikipedia

I see you 100 pounds lighter, not smoking for the past six months at least, off of six of your twelve medications, your medical problem list shortened down to two or three.  You are able to feel pleasure again.  It is a real option for you.

If you don’t, I see you growing demented, paralyzed and dying from a heart attack.  I can’t say when these things will happen but they will happen if you don’t start taking care of yourself.

Where does courage come from?

For her biological self, I targeted the language of her temperament.  I remembered that we make decisions either through thought or feeling.  She was a “Feeler.”  I drew forth my light saber and went for the emotions.

You can do this!  Think of the gift you’d be giving yourself and to those you love.

For her sociological self, I talked about everyone in the family choosing with her, including husband.  Talking about how this changes the family culture, not to smoke together, setting boundaries with her husband to care for herself and thinking about getting other support networks like starting to go to church again or calling her pastor.

Question:  Where does courage come from for you?  Please tell me your story?

Self-Care Tip – Use your biopsychosocial model, that is to say all of what makes you you, to find your courage.  Be a friend to yourself.

27 thoughts on “Where Does Courage Come From?

  1. I understand that all biological life forms have a self destruct dynamic and a survival dynamic.. The psychological, biological and sociological paradigms – these processes may be disabled and weakened in their response function but none of that comes from the self destruct gene. They operate as responses of environmental conditions. But one way to manage under these conditions is to activate the survival dynamic. We are not helpless against external factors. We can draw courage by affirming we can affect outcome and a decision must be made as to give in and die by slow evaporation of body and soul or just getting downright stubborn and as Dylan Thomas put it “…rage, rage against the dieing of the light.”

  2. Fear…of loss of health, loss of happiness, loss of meaning, loss of loved ones, loss of life. I know that all of the above can also cause us to become the woman you describe here, but I also know that one day one of those losses actually occurs and suddenly “doing something about it” becomes the most important thing in your life. I’m really good at imitating the Cowardly Lion’s cry and my granddaughter used to think it was funny (Now that she’s a mature nine-year-old she just rolls her eyes and says, “Grandma-a-a-a.”), but for a long time I WAS the Cowardly Lion and then my age began to scare me. I was afraid that, if I didn’t start really taking car of myself, I would die, and I want to live for the eye-roller! I wish I’d started earlier but at least I’m doing something and I’m not crying (much), anymore, and I sure feel stronger!

  3. Wow, provacative post…I need to think on this one. I did not have much courage as an introverted child of a “chaotic” household…but now as an adult in a place of calm I do find have courage at the most surprising times.

  4. I like the ‘find courage’. This implies it’s a choice–whether we will or won’t. Not a nature thing that courage springs up of its own volition when needed, an instinct as it is in animals. Or maybe they also ‘find courage’ when they ‘feel’ they must. Is the ability to choose to be courageous uniquely human?

    I like what carldagostino said about raging. Yes–I too can rage!

  5. Pingback: “Where will I find the courage?” « Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror

  6. You really got me thinking, so I decided to respond in my own blog, instead of taking up too much room on yours! Thanks so much fo the great prompt! It’s a very interesting question, but I stick by my first thought. You find courage inside – and EVERYONE has it! 😀

  7. Courage to pick yourself up and ‘start again’ at something. It seems to come for me when I can think “I have been down and now I have rested I can go up again”. Somehow I have to have a down and a downtime before I can be courageous.

    Twice I have needed some chemical help (Once St John’s Wort, and once an anti-depressant for a few months) but then knowing that is a crutch to HELP me get up and going again made it easy enough to say, I’m up again, I can leave the crutch.”

    It is important to understand the function of the crutch, while I heal and to leave it behind when I am better. A long-term crutch just becomes another problem I suspect and maybe finding the courage to leave the addicted crutch may be more than I have, so it’s an area with strict boundaries for me.

  8. Courage is a God thing. Everyone has courage. Fear is not a God thing and we all listen to fear to a greater or lesser amount. It takes courage to wake up. It takes courage to get out of bed and even takes courage to stay in bed due to consequenses. It even takes courage to decide to take ones life and courage to choose life. It is the fear factor which is a lie. how much do we listen to the lie of fear… Living life to its fullest potential is painful and choosing to not live life to up most quality is also painful. My cross country coach once said before a race, “Spielman!! Its painful if u run slow and its going to be painful if u run fast, so u might as well run fast and be done quicker!!” Wow!! what a revelation. The lie is that somehow there is an option that is less painful. No, it’s all painful!! So use the courage we already have and live a fuller life!!! Thank you God for giving us All courage.

  9. Courage? Shit thats simple. It comes from your GUT. TRUST YOUR GUT, that is what i have always told my daughters. In the moment just before you need to call upon courage your gut will activate your brain to process the situation that you find yourself in. Is this a dangerous situation, is the decision i make here going to have long lasting consequences. Should i scream, should i run, should i fight, should i love, should i hug, should i ignore, should i get involved, should i care, etc. etc. etc. Your gut will in essence cause you fear, rage, compassion, etc. etc. etc. which will cause you to call upon the proper courage required to deal with the situation. The courage to fight for your life, The courage to forgive, The courage to let go, The courage to love, The courage to choose, etc. etc. etc. I might be completely off base commenting on this blog full of professionals, but i trust my gut and it told me to speak my mind!

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