Six Ways to Find Your Courage During Challenging Times

Finding the courage to stand up for yourself and others can be difficult in challenging times. However, the science of courage can offer a psychological lifeline, helping us to clarify what matters so that we can find a steadier, values-based resolve—and even inspire it in others. Here are six ways to find your courage during challenging times.

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1. See Yourself as Courageous

When we describe ourselves as  courageous,  we are more likely to act courageously. Tell yourself you’re courageous as you park in the school parking lot and walk into work. It may give you a psychological boost and inspire you to meet the day with greater self-assurance.

You can also note and label all the courageous actions you have already taken. Reflect on how your struggles have informed your current relationships with others or how you’ve learned to cope with a chronic health issue. This can help you reconnect with personal values and beliefs that inspire future courageous behaviours.

2. Get Comfortable with  Mistakes

Fear of failure can negatively correlate with courage, but what if it’s OK to make mistakes—and they are even welcomed learning tools? Studies indicate that students may benefit from making mistakes (and correcting them) rather than avoiding them at all costs.

Another way to address the fear of failure is through a simple practice you can share with your students or colleagues called  Crumpled Reminder,  where you write about a recent mistake you made, crumple up a paper representing your feelings about that mistake, and then discuss the ways mistakes strengthen brain activity and help us to learn and grow.

3. Keep Trying

Courage at work also requires perseverance. As our fears lessen, we are more likely to continue learning—to keep trying despite obstacles. As a character strength, industry (or persistence) can also be modelled, observed, and developed.

4. Cultivate Vulnerability

Vulnerability is a critical component of courage. It takes courage to be honest with yourself and others about your feelings and experiences. It can also be helpful to share your stories with others, whether successes or failures, as this can create a sense of belonging and foster a culture of courage.

5. Foster Positive Relationships

Positive relationships are essential to developing courage, as they provide a sense of support and belonging. Research has shown that students who feel connected to their teachers and peers are likelier to engage in positive behaviours like courage. Building positive relationships with your colleagues and students is important, as this can help cultivate fearlessness in yourself and others.

6. Engage in Reflection

Reflection is a crucial component of courage, as it allows us to examine our values and beliefs and to consider how we can align our actions with them. Take time to reflect on your experiences, both positive and negative, and think about how they have influenced your values and beliefs. This can help you identify areas where you may need to develop courage and create a plan.

In conclusion, courage doesn’t have to look dramatic or fearless. Sometimes it seems more like quiet perseverance. By cultivating a sense of courage, we can find a steadier, values-based resolve that can help us to navigate even the most challenging times.

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