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Are you a coward? Do you feel like you are making the wrong choices by not living up to your own expectations? Are you shirking from the responsibilities of your life?
Or maybe it’s something more personal. Maybe you feel like you need to be more comfortable with confrontation and dealing with the unruly people you cross paths with in the world.
The thing about courage is that there is a balance. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, not let other people take advantage of you, and ensure you are treated with respect. However, sometimes the best choice isn’t always the courageous choice. Sometimes it’s better to metaphorically live to fight another day rather than die in battle.
How do you stop being a coward? Well, let’s look at some tips to shore up your own bravery.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you overcome the cowardice you deem yourself to have. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. Determine your values.
Do you have values? Not everyone does. Many people just haven’t thought about their own values or what they really stand for. And there is an unfortunate truth that some people don’t really stand for anything. How unfortunate for them to be so timid that they refuse to stand up for something.
Do you value honesty? Dignity? Doing the right thing? What calls to you? What speaks to your soul as something worthy and worthwhile? And what can you do to better embody that ideal?
I, the writer, found my values in the philosophy of Stoicism. Man exists to help his fellow man. Virtue is the highest Good. To live with Virtue is to act with justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation. It’s not something I always get right. But it is something that I have found drives me through my own anxiety, mental illness, and the challenges of life.
What are your values? Do you have any? If not, do some reading and find something that clicks with you. Philosophy and religion are both good places to look. Regarding religion, you don’t necessarily need to believe in the supernatural aspect to borrow their values if they appeal to you.
2. Embrace discomfort.
Courage can be uncomfortable. In fact, it’s probably going to be uncomfortable more often than not until you really get used to stepping out of your comfort zone. To be brave is to be willing to face the unknown. The unknown is something that human beings typically find uncomfortable.
The good news is that you can approach the unknown with the tools and knowledge. In addition, you likely have experiences and knowledge that will help you get through. And if you don’t, you can always develop them.
When faced with a difficult choice and a need to be courageous, remind yourself, “It’s normal to be uncomfortable when doing the right thing. Courage is uncomfortable, but discomfort isn’t going to kill me.” Unless you’re in a situation where you could be hurt, in which case you want to exercise caution as you proceed.
For example, it may seem like a good idea to step in and break up a fight, but that’s also a good way to get hurt or killed. You may try to help the person on the ground, but if they’ve been hit in the head or it wasn’t going well for them, they may not realize you’re trying to help. Sometimes the more courageous thing to do is notify authorities and stay away from a situation.
3. Expose yourself to smaller discomforts to build tolerance.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say you are deathly terrified of a particular thing that you really want to do. It will bring with it a lot of big changes that are just outright terrifying. One thing you can do to help build your tolerance to that discomfort is to take on smaller amounts of discomfort that you can manage. Some would call this a form of “exposure therapy.” That is, you expose yourself to the thing that bothers you little by little so you can build a tolerance to it.
You may find that this kind of approach either reduces or eliminates the strength of your anxiety about doing the thing.
What are some smaller things that you can do to build a tolerance? For example, let’s say you’re afraid of heights. You might consider going to a local swimming pool and diving in from a diving board. Yeah, it’s a little way down, but you’re not going to get hurt from doing it. At most, you’ll just be uncomfortable. Then, if they have higher diving boards, you can work your way up until you get comfortable with it.
Maybe you want to be more honest about who you are with the world. Then, instead of throwing open the door completely, you can always choose to let smaller pieces of yourself out until you feel confident enough to entirely step out.
4. Keep your mind strong.
Courage is all about mental strength. We need stability and resolve to consistently do the right thing in the face of adversity because courage often requires adversity. That adversity may come from external circumstances, such as other people or the consequences of doing what’s right. But, on the other hand, it may come internally, from your own anxiety about the outcome or being in a confrontation with people.
A strong mind makes it much easier to deal with all of those things. Treating your body and mind right will help you improve your own courage. It’s hard to face down difficult circumstances when you’re tired or weary from what’s going on with your life. It’s much more tempting to just go with the flow, even if that flow isn’t the right thing to do.
Do yourself a huge favor and get some exercise, eat better, get better sleep, and try to manage your stress. Don’t let the world beat you down into submission.
Related: 21 Things Mentally Strong People Do (But Don’t Talk About)
5. Embrace and nurture your empathy.
Empathy is an important part of courage because it can provide that additional push to ease other people’s suffering. Courage can sometimes take the form of standing up for other people when they can’t stand up for themselves. Bravery can be coming to the defense or aid of someone you care about when things aren’t good for them. It may also be choosing to do the right thing when others won’t.
Still, we often do these things, not for ourselves, but for vulnerable people who may need that extra help. It’s difficult to sit idly by and watch an unjust unfold when you feel empathetic for that person’s suffering. But we don’t always do a great job putting ourselves in another person’s shoes.
How do you cultivate empathy? A good way to do it is to put yourself in a position to see what other people are experiencing. Do some volunteer work for other people. Visit an old folks’ home to spend some time with lonely people. There are even YouTube and social media channels with different people from rough walks of life sharing their stories. And then you can spend some time contemplating walking a mile in their shoes.
6. Choose the more difficult path.
Courage and cowardice are often a choice. We actively choose the path of least resistance, not put up a struggle, just go with the flow of peace and quiet. But that isn’t always a good choice. Justice is often not peaceful or quiet. It’s often uncomfortable and difficult. And though we may be in the habit of choosing the path of least resistance, that of cowardice, we can also choose to stop doing that.
Nothing prevents you from living the better kind of life you want than your own mind. All you need to do is decide to do it, accept the consequences for those actions, and choose to act with courage.
“But it’s not that simple!”
It is. The repercussions may be hard to deal with. Pushing into an unpopular opinion may be difficult and cause conflict with other people. Still, hey, that’s the way it is. That’s the way people are.
And you won’t get it perfect every time. The important thing is that you keep trying to choose courage when cowardice is on the table. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
Choose the difficult path.
Still not sure how to stop being a coward? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
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