When we look at the world around us and the world within us, perhaps we wish we could change things — make them better. But it takes courage to face these difficulties head on, and sometimes our fear seems stronger than our better wishes.
Human beings have faced this kind of dilemma since the beginning of time — and fortunately many have made the better choice in spite of their fears and self-doubts.
The encouraging message these brave ones have left for others is simply this: just take even the smallest step you can, despite your fear, with no concern for the outcome. This is the way to ultimately succeed as a human being and bring about results beyond what you can imagine now.
But if you don’t make that first, shaky step, nothing can change.
Here are examples of this uplifting wisdom that comes down to us from across the ages…
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
— Plato (427 B.C.E.)
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C.E.)
Fear and faith cannot exist in the same space at the same time. Choose one.
— Gospel Of Philip (200)
The brave man is not he who feels no fear, for that were stupid and irrational, but he whose noble soul subdues its fear and bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from.
— Joanna Baillie (1762)
So, in regard to disagreeable and formidable things, prudence does not consist in evasion or flight, but in courage. He who wishes to walk in the most peaceful parts of life with any serenity must screw himself up to resolution. Let him front the object of his worst apprehension, and his stoutness will commonly make his fear groundless.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803)
We are capable of so much more than we think we are, but we will never prove that to ourselves until we take that all-important first step. As OneJourney founder Guy Finley tells us… “Each time you take the step that you’re sure you can’t, you discover that the ‘you’ who would not was only a thought that believed it could not.”
Find the Keys to a Whole New Kind of Courage
If you want to tap into the true courage that lies within you, you can find help and encouragement in a fact-filled message from Guy Finley:
The more you know, the farther you can see, so take as long as you need with the following Higher Lesson and allow yourself to see something new about the true nature of discouragement. Then watch how a new and greater personal freedom dawns in your life.
The only purpose discouraged feelings serve is to keep your thoughts on what you can’t do. And with your attention fixed in this fashion on the impossible, there’s no room for discovering what is possible — for what you can do.
Let’s cover this important discovery one more time.
The only thing that discouraged feelings do is to keep you busy doing nothing except feeling sorry for yourself, which is the perfect guarantee that your sorry situation will remain hopelessly the same. Enough is enough! You don’t have to put up with one more discouraged day. That’s right. There is another choice you can learn to make besides falling into those familiar feelings of failure. Use this next Higher Idea to help you start thinking about those old discouragements in a new way.
Whenever we suffer over what we aren’t able to do, have, win, grasp, or work through, our attention in these moments is always riveted on our own thoughts — thoughts that are busy telling us we’re somehow stuck. Maybe you can recognize some of these heavy-hearted inner voices? They say in one way or another . . .
“I’ll never get out of this mess.” “I’m too stupid to learn these things.” “I must have done something terrible to deserve this!” “There’s no point in going any farther.” “This is definitely hopeless.”
Now on the surface of things, these all-too-familiar whispers of defeat — these voices that reach our inner ears, speaking to us with our own voice — seem to be genuinely concerned with our unfortunate condition. But a deeper look into their covert operation reveals something totally different. Follow the next four new ideas closely and see something that is both shocking and self-liberating.
The more these gloomy voices talk to us, the more discouraged we feel.
The more discouraged we feel, the more certain we are that we have no other choice but to feel that way.
And the more convinced we are that we have no choice, the less choice we have.
These unconscious inner dialogues actually produce the very dead-end we fear!
We end up being able to go no farther with our wish for broader personal horizons because, unbeknownst to ourselves, we now unconsciously believe that there’s no way to get past where it is we perceive ourselves to be limited or tied down. The key idea in this part of our investigation lies within the word “perceive.”
For the purposes of this study, always remember that the word “perceive” rhymes with deceive. And that’s precisely what this faulty perception is: a self-deception. Here’s proof.
There are no dead ends in Real Life. That’s right. Now here’s why this is true.
There are no dead ends in Real Life because — in any given moment — there is always something Higher to do with your life besides suffering over what you think you can’t have or do or be. Here’s just one example of a Higher Action you can learn to take when faced with the presence of any discouraging inner state.
See that the size of the discouragement you feel is directly proportionate to the size of your insistence that life conform to your demands. Then, having verified this truth for yourself, dare to quietly drop that self-defeating demand.
Now watch in amazement as your discouraged feelings fade away, leaving you with fresh new energies that allow you to not only see a brand new way to proceed with your wish, but which also grant you the strength to begin that next new leg of your quest.
For instance, maybe you’ve felt discouraged because you wanted to learn something new — a higher skill or a difficult lesson — but felt sure that it was beyond your abilities. And so you just resigned yourself to feeling discouraged. While this kind of self-defeating behavior is commonly accepted as natural, it’s totally unnecessary. You can learn to do something Higher.
Instead of falling into those familiar feelings of futility over yourself, try dropping that unconscious demand that you have to be who you think you should be. And then, instead of dwelling in discouragement over who your own thoughts are telling you you’ll never be, get started working on who, and what, you are right now.
In other words, do what’s in your power and refuse to be discouraged about anything else. And keep repeating this new conscious action one step at a time, over and over again. It is in your power to learn whatever it takes — one lesson at a time — and make it all the way to your designated goal.
Here’s one last special thought to help summarize this important life-lesson in liberating ourselves from dark discouragements. Let it reveal a life free of all doubts and despondency:
Any conversation you permit yourself to have with discouraging thoughts guarantees you’ll wind up with a good reason for feeling discouraged. When it comes to any negative thought, the first word you have with it is the same as giving it the last word with you.
Practice these Higher Lessons in self-liberation until you’re free of all feelings of futility. You’ll soon see how this new action gives you the last laugh on discouragement.
Perhaps you have a favorite quote from your own tradition on the true nature of courage. If so, please click here to submit it to the OneJourney Living Book. It just might help someone else find needed courage in a critical moment.
Dr. Ellen Dickstein
The OneJourney Project