On Courage

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When I talk to people who are dissatisfied with their lives and want to change something but can’t, I usually hear the following reasons:

  • I can’t do it.
  • I don’t know exactly what I want.
  • Because of my childhood
  • I don’t know how

I am convinced that these people are actually missing only one virtue and that is:


Somewhat more critically one could also say: It is comfort: “The situation I am in is very unpleasant, but it is more comfortable (i.e. it demands less of me) to simply stay in the situation, endure it and let out the dissatisfaction with complaints and accusations.”

Indeed, courage is the missing ingredient. This is also evident from the fact that people who show courage are admired by everyone, even if they do not achieve anything “great”: the courage to talk about their illness, the courage to say “no”, the courage to stand up for their opinion, etc.

What exactly is the most frightening thing about showing yourself as you are, saying what you feel, admitting that you are suffering? The answer: The fear of not (any longer) fitting into the norm! Why is that?

We grew up with constant reminders: “That’s the way you are suposed to be!” (speak well, be a good child, obedient, strive for a socially highly-respected profession, etc.) and “You are wrong!” (i.e. career aspirations that do not correspond to parents’ ideas or having interests that are undesirable at school, etc.). The people who influenced and “formed” us in this way meant well: we should fit well into society in order to have it good later.

Unfortunately, this suppresses our inner drives and at some point, we force ourselves to live the way we were expected to and stop listening and following our inner voice. We no longer have our parents and teachers around us, they are now in our heads as voices: “you have to do THIS!” and “One doesn’t do that!” However, the inner drives remain there from birth until the end of life and constantly cause pain, which should tell you: “you are not living your life properly yet! Fortunately, this is so, even if it is painful because your life constantly demands that you live it to the full. IF you don´t do it one of two things is very likely to happen at some point:

  • you will try to relieve the pain with an addiction (work, alcohol, “pleasure”, drugs, drugs, gambling, food, sports, etc.) and/or
  • Your body will develop a chronic disease that will continue to increase (blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism, …) until you either come to your senses (collapse, burnout, …) or die of some “chronic” disease (heart attack, stroke, …).

I do not claim that all diseases are only due to the stress caused by a lifestyle that is wrong for us. But I would claim that it is the majority and includes especially the so-called diseases of civilization.

If you are interested in this topic, the pressure is probably already so great that you want to make a change, at least in your work. Then please be aware that you have to admit to yourself that you have been living “wrong” in some way in the last 3, 5, 10 or more years. Your change would mean openly admitting this to yourself and to everyone else. How embarrassing! You might think so.

But this is not embarrassing at all; this is brave and “grown-up”! But your change would also mean that in the future you would no longer want to follow some of the “norms” that were given to you along the way. How threatening! With this, you step out of “your” previous society a little bit. You are then different from now! How will that feel? What kind of person are you then? This is new and uncertain: a so-called “risk”, as “your” previous society has always taught you. That’s why it seems so threatening! That is why it takes so much courage to take this step. That is why you are so afraid of it and believe that you “can’t” or “don’t know how” or “do not know what you want”.

With courage, you pay the price BEFORE but get the reward later. With adaptation, the reward comes first (= you fit in, pat on the back!) but you pay the price later: the dissatisfaction with yourself and your life that you feel today.

I am sorry, but I have to tell you the truth: without a lot of courage, it will not work. I know that it is very frightening. I know it feels like you can’t. I know that it feels as if terrible unknown things are going happening that feel similar to being outcast. It’s intangible, diffuse but the danger feels very real to you. This is the force that wants to push you into your old norm, that fights against the pressure of your inner drive, which – fortunately – just doesn’t want to give up.

There is, unfortunately, no way out and no shortcut: you will have to find the courage to take the step into the diffuse danger and trust what I am telling you now: Behind it, it no longer feels threatening at all. Behind it you will think: that was very easy! Behind it, you will be surprised how many people suddenly tell you how brave you are. Behind that, it turns out that all the diffuse danger is just lukewarm air that has lived on being unknown and could thus build up in your head in any threatening way you wanted. Behind it lies peace, tranquility and yourself.

In order to reach your goal, you will have to courageously contradict your previous society in your head: “You say, that’s what I ought to do? But I do it differently.” And “You say I shouldn’t do that? I’m doing it anyway because I’m doing it for me and not for you.”

In order to live a self-determined life, you have to decide for yourself. This means that you can no longer resort to the norms of how to be. It also means that you have to leave your comfort zone. In the 120-Day-Challenge, I have developed, you will also practice courage to prepare yourself for this.

How do you tell courage from recklessness? Decisions can, of course, be courageous and still be wrong. In my view, it would be reckless to carry all your money to the casino to bet it on red in roulette. This can go well, and from one moment to the next, the money is doubled. Or even lost everything.

A good approach is: If you want to do something for a long time but just don’t dare to do it, this is a good indicator that you should do it. This starts with the woman (or man) you don’t dare to approach and goes from the course you always wanted to take to the job you’ve always craved, but which doesn’t match your parents preferences or your career so far.

How are your views on this? Please leave a comment!

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