For When Our Courage Recedes

We all have moments when our courage drops off the map.

Or it shrinks like spinach in hot water. And we’re left questioning our abilities and our aims.

It’s a tough moment to be in. But there are a few tools that have helped me in these courage outages.

First, remind ourselves this is a moment, this is not forever. Sometimes, I like to call that out: “It appears that my courage, like Elvis, has left the building.” Our courage hasn’t left the planet. (Elvis, admittedly, is a different story.)

This courage outage - like the common cold - is temporary. And, as with the common cold, there are things that can help end it and things that can help extend it. Our focus, of course, is to end it; everything in this Note is aimed at that.

Second, be intentional about who we spend our time with and what we spend our mind with.

I reach out to amazing and courageous people. I read the writings, see the movies, look at the art of amazing and courageous people. And I don’t spend time reading the news, getting coffee with debbie downers, listening to moody music.

Third. Sleep is as elemental as oxygen and water. Courage takes energy. If I’m tired, weakness and uncertainty find me- easily. If I’m running on seven to eight hours in bed, I can access my guts and gumption more readily.

Fourth. Take little risks to remind ourselves that we have courage in us. Correct someone if they misspell or mispronounce our name. Say no to someone who wants our time and yes to giving ourselves some down time. Ask for help or accept someone’s offer for help. Whatever a small risk is for us.

Finally, for today, at least, love. Love for ourselves, especially the part of ourselves that feels courage-less, timid, afraid. Something’s aching in us, and there’s no better balm for an emotional ache than love. Hot tea and wool socks are also nice.

Our courage will retreat at times. But it will also return, sometimes bigger than before. Our work is to take the steps that lead us back to our courage. And know that the sheer act of taking those steps is courageous in and of itself.

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