What is the answer to fear? Fear, when we get down to it, is just a set of bodily sensations. It might be an odd sensation in the throat, or a sick feeling in the stomache. We know fear through our bodily reactions. The sensations of fear are uncomfortable so we may tend to avoid them. This is understandable, but it does not make the sensations go away. We might medicate our fears through legal or illegal methods, but we are still at the effect of them.
We need courage to handle fear, but where does it come from? Perhaps it will help to deepen our understanding of what courage is. Courage is not some kind of macho weapon that we use to bash fear on the head. Fear is no our enemy. If it were not for fear none of us would be alive today. We need to be afraid of going into deep fast-flowing water till we learn why that would be stupid thing to do, or until we learn the skills to handle it.
Courage gives us the ability to experience fear without being directed by it. With courage we can learn to be a little bit more comfortable with fear. In other words, perhaps we an learn to not be afraid of fear. Just let it be, sometimes. Just feel fearful, sometimes. And see what happens. Courage grows like a muscle as we learn to deal with fear in sensible ways.
We might find that when the part of us which is fearful has delivered its message, it calms down. The uncomfortable feelings go away.
If we keep running away to try and avoid the messenger it chases after us. Its life depends on delivering its message. We can just stop and listen to the message. It may be a warning, it may be an alert, it might be invaluable information which we have been avoiding. It might be that we have not taken on board the full risks of a situation and something within us is pointing them out.
It could also be our fear is a meaningless worry based on some dark imaginings when we are tired or lonely. Yet, the way to tell when fear is offering something useful is to first listen to the message. It takes courage to listen to the message and not be overwhelmed by it. When we feel afraid, something is trying to protect us. Why run away from it? Our protector may be misinformed, but it might not be. It might be right too.
Courage is the emotional intelligence needed to handle fear. It comes from being a bit bigger than the fear. Being able to hold fear, yet not be overcome by it. We can start small and build from there. First allow little fears, then bigger ones. As we do so our courage grows.
Courage the answer to fear; yet fear is what sparks our capacity for courage.