“You learn to overcome fear by slowly building new habits of exposing yourself to it a little bit at a time. You start small and practice staying calm. This is the basis of behavioral therapy. You train yourself to be calm on cue, then get little doses of what affects you.”
-Abigail Marsh, author of The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between
The Courage of Everyday Heroism
Marsh gave a lecture this summer (’22) on the topic of what it takes to be a hero and was interested to hear that heros share qualities of humility and honesty, and put great value on others. The person who runs to the burning car to pull out the crash victim is thinking first and foremost about that other person.
The question of the lecture was “how can the average person become more courageous?” and here is what Marsh says her research suggests:
Don’t try to eliminate fear. By engaging with fear you make it dominant. Instead, acknowledge the legitimacy of fear and move past it as you can.
Develop a habit of pushing yourself to try things that you are nervous about (without being reckless)
Seek to develop humility and turn your focus outside of yourself
Practice gratitude to stay in touch with the world outside of you
Seek out experiences that instill feelings of being one of a larger world – again, this brings you outside of yourself and into a state of greater humility
Contemplate the acts of heroes around us
There are all sorts of reasons we might wish to develop courage – courage to keep on the path we’re on; courage to step off it; and everything in between. I hope Marsh’s thoughts give you some opportunity for reflection about your own life.
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