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  • SuePattonThoele

Having Courage

Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid.

Having courage and showing courage means we face our

fear. We are able to say, “I have fallen, but I will get up.”

—Maya Angelou

The bad news about fear is that it feels terrible and can be paralyzing. The good news is that most fear is learned and, consequently, can be unlearned. Only the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises are primal and natural. All other fears are learned, including the fear of death.

The powers that be—society, family, church, government—use fear to control us. Employed wisely and sparingly, fear can be a protective learning tool, but all too often, it is wielded as a bludgeon and we are conditioned to be unnaturally fearful. Of course, fear can also be a by-product of traumatic experiences: emotional and physical abuse, rape, abandonment, molestation, dismissal, and neglect, to name only a few. If something traumatic has happened to you, and your fears feel overwhelming, please allow a clergy person, therapist, or other trained professional to help you heal. Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is accept help.

Although our automatic reactions to fear are fight, flight, and freeze, none of those responses heal and transform fear when used long term. Denying, running from, and ignoring fear allows it to grow unchecked and gives it the power to shroud your essence. The only way to truly unlearn and transform fear is to face it, work through it, and act in spite of it. Most women I know have already courageously faced and tamed fear a thousand times over, and I bet you’re one of them.

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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