The Way of the Warrior: How to Cultivate Courage

Photo by Negan Scofield on Unsplash
  1. Spend time getting to know your fears. Last year ‘Science’ magazine published a study concluding that exposure to fear is a necessary component to overcoming it. Sitting with and learning to accept fears rather than resist them seems to be the key to learning to overcome them. Whether through self discovery, or more traditional methods like therapy, understanding what motivates and repels you will help across many facets of your life.
  2. Visualization. Multiple areas of research have found visualization to be a powerful tool in training the brain as effectively, if not more so, than the real physical action. This a very important technique fighters use in the run up to competition. They imagine everything they want to happen in the greatest of detail. They go through the fight, the strikes they want to land, and how they’ll react or counter to the other fighter depending on what they do. They’ll imagine their hand being raised and anchor it in emotion. Relief, joy, excitement. Emotions are a crucial part of visualization. They even think about who they will call after they’ve won and what they’ll eat at their celebratory meal. Get specific about the outcome you desire and don’t forget how you want to feel once you have conquered that fear.
  3. Play out the worst case scenario. This is a common risk management concept used to plan for disastrous scenarios. While this technique is not commonly used by combat athletes, it is an alternative strategy for anyone who has a habit of catastrophizing. Play it out. Take your imagination as far as you can in a negative situation. What is the absolute worst thing that can happen? Is it detrimental to you? Can you come back from it? Are there ways to solve that problem should it arise? This sequence allows you to more accurately judge if your fears are real or imagined and if taking a risk is worth it or not.
  4. Practice makes perfect. Keep at it. Yes, you will set yourself a task, psyche yourself up, and then fail miserably. That’s okay. Try again. Or try something else. The most important thing is to stay the course and to maintain a regular practice of choosing courage. The 10,000 hour rule is the best example of this. It doesn’t matter your starting point, your advantages or disadvantages, what is most important is your commitment to putting in dedicated work on a consistent basis.

Writer. Fighter. Artist. Athlete. Find me at, Twitter @Alanna_Imani and Instagram @Alanna_Sheridan

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