By Vuthy Pisey
Does he/she love me? Should I apply for this competition/scholarship? Would my boss agrees if I request for a pay rise? Will I be successful in this career/major I chose? Who will I be in the next 5 years?
These are only a few examples of the shared uncertainties in life. You keep asking yourself over and over, and still you can’t find the answers. Maybe you wish that life is like the weather which can be accurately predicted with the help of advanced technology and equipments. Or maybe you wish that those questions are like math problems which can be solved by applying clear formulas, or even just copied from other people.
But life’s not like that. Our lives are so unique and unpredictable that no one can be a hundred percent sure about the what the future may bring. Even so, my friends, there is one powerful key to unlock the world of the unknown in life to be happy and successful, and that is courage.
What is courage?
According to Cambridge Dictionary, “Courage is the ability to control fear and to be willing to deal with something that is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant”. By definition, a courageous person is not someone who has no fear, but someone who chooses to conquer that fear to do what he or she wishes or believes in.
What it means to be courageous might be different for each person, depending on their situation and characteristics. To a passive and shy student, courage might be asking the teacher a question or talking to a stranger. To a parent, courage might be sacrificing their health, wealth, time and effort so that their children will have a good future and be happy. To a person in one-sided love, courage might be asking the person they have a crush on for a date or to start a relationship. To me, courage is the mental and physical strength to say “I can do it” and tackle obstacles I face to get what I want no matter the cost and the result.
How powerful is courage in our lives?
Just like a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, courage is the first step to open the door to happiness and success because it brings about the change you once feared. Courage can bring happiness to each person due to the fact that a courageous person has conquered their fear and is determined to pursue their dream. No matter what the result may bring, at least, they have no regrets in their lives.
For example, when you have feelings for someone and have long taken care of them, you would regret never telling them how you feel if they end up marrying someone else. But if you have the courage to tell them how you feel, then maybe the result would be different. Who knows what the future will bring until you take action.
In study and work, there is no guarantee that you would be successful in the field that you have chosen. Plus, nobody, not even yourself, knows if the decision you made today is right or wrong. So, it takes a lot of courage for you to take the first step to pursue what you believe in. Without the courage, you would never be the real soldier who fights in a battle, let alone achieve victory.
What does it take to build up courage?
Whether you need courage to pursue your dream, start a relationship or make a change in your life, you can gradually but firmly build up your courage by following these 5 incredibly simple steps:
1. Begin with the Worst in Mind and Accept It
People fear something that they don’t want to experience. So, one way to confront and lessen your fear is to imagine the worst thing that could happen and accept it.
For instance, I used to be afraid of public speaking. I would shakily hold the microphone, and the audience would stare and laugh at me. To have the courage to do public speaking again, I imagine this worst case scenario and open up my heart to accept it. By doing so, I am no longer frightened of embarrassing myself, so I can keep trying to improve my public speaking.
There Are Two Sides to Every Coin
For every action that you do, you can either fail, succeed or stay the same. Without the presence of courage, fear will take its course and there can only be one result—you know what it would be. But with the courage to try something new, you have triggered the possibility of changes in your game, and so the outcome would never be the same.
If you fail, there is nothing to be afraid of because you have already anticipated the result and accepted it. So, what if you succeed?
Take Care of Yourself and Stay Away from Toxic People
The courage to bring about positive change in your life is an ongoing process, and it takes lot of effort and commitment. This requires your physical, mental and spiritual well-being to be, strong and free from any toxic or negative people and influences.
It is extremely hard to be courageous when you are surrounded by people who are always dragging you down by mocking or discouraging you from your goals. So, it is important that you stay away from them and block your mind from their unhelpful opinions.
You also need to take care of your body and mind. Do exercise regularly, watch what you eat and drink, sleep well and try your best to look good from the inside out. Learn to build up your energy and keep your spirit alive. That means knowing what you need to be happy when you are under stress and how to focus your energy to achieve your goals.
Do Not Forget to Reward Yourself
A courageous person will never be afraid to fail and start anew because they trust in their ability and that they can achieve their goal sooner or later.
In the long run of building up your courage, you have to develop an effective rewarding system which keeps you motivated. Reward yourself when you have achieved something, and reward yourself even more when you have tried but failed. Feed your body with something delicious, entertain and feed your soul with the ideas and wisdom of inspiring people, or calm yourself with motivating words that give you energy to move on.
Fake it until you make it
You might be thinking, how could you have the courage to go after your goal when you haven’t done or achieved anything significant yet? Guess what, successful people started their journey in exactly the same spot as you.
Successful people have one thing in common— they always believe in themselves and have the guts to achieve their goals no matter what the situation is. Average people will start to believe in themselves when they already have something in hand, while successful people not only believe in themselves but also make other people believe in them when they have nothing.
Same goes to you. You don’t need to have everything ready until you can be brave to pursue what you believe in. You just need to pretend that you are great, unique and brave, and then you will find a way to make it true.
Believe in yourself or no one is going to believe in you.
It takes a great deal of practice, commitment and willingness to build up courage. But once you have mustered up your courage, you will be surprised by how powerfully it would impact your life.
Be bold and go out there to make your dream come true. You are more than capable of achieving anything you put your mind to. You’ve Got This. Good Luck!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.