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Three "Stages" of Courage

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

I just returned from a road trip that included a guided hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There were six woman, guided by 3 woman, for a total of 9. We all showed up; we all finished. No one was injured, and we all expressed feelings of being better or feeling good for having the experience. The group members age ranged from their 20s to their 60s, but the group was almost immediately a support for one another. No one left behind. What does courage have to do with this, you ask?

Have you ever thought you wanted to do something new, something challenging, or with a group of people different from yourself, or something that would take you outside your comfort zone? But then you "let it go", because you have life to deal with, and you don't know where to start. Maybe you talk to your family and friends, and people think you're crazy. Maybe you can't find anyone who wants to join you or understands your motivation. You have internal longings or drives, but you ignore them. Here is where longing rubs up against status quo, and everything about relieving that rub involves courage.


There are types or categories of courage, causes of courage, and qualities of courage, but I am suggesting here that there are also stages of courage, no matter the type, category, cause or qualities. Stages of courage imply that being courageous is not an 'all or none' experience. You aren't either a courageous person or not. With the exception of acting in a moment of danger, where humans tend toward action without really thinking since survival instinct kicks in, we go through mental and emotional processes in order to act in courageous ways. The following are three stages you can move yourself through if you want to find the courage to do something - anything - from hiking in the mountains, to telling someone how you really feel.

1) Clarity - acknowledge what you want to do, see or be. Be clear about it. Write it down. Tell people if that makes it more real for you (don't tell others if it will bring ambiguity). Think it through, imagine, dream, and notice how doing, seeing, or being that will make you feel.

Example: You long to see the Badlands. It does not matter what the reason is, but it can bring clarity to understand why YOU want to see the Badlands. My dad always talked about the spiritual feeling he had when he visited the Badlands, and I want to experience that for myself. I wish I could have gone with my dad while he was alive, but even if he is not with me in person, I know it will bring me closer to him.

Again, this clarity does not have to make sense to anyone but you.

2) Inspired Action - Give yourself permission to NOT set any timeline or deadlines, and then do give yourself permission to imagine. Imagine how it will feel when you do this or experience that. Imagine who may want to come along. Research if you want (costs, best time of year, etc), but only if it feels good right now to do that. The main point here is to feel good and inspired in anything you do surrounding going to the Badlands (in this example). If it overwhelms you, do nothing except have it written down on a "bucket list". It may surprise and delight you when an article about the Badlands is emailed to you, or you hear someone at the gym talking about their trip there. Just having the intention that you want to do, be, or experience this leads you to inspired thoughts, feelings, and actions. Just be prepared to notice and take inspired action.

3) Have Compassion - This may be the hardest step. Have compassion for yourself if you forget about the dream, goal, or idea. It'll come back around at a later time. Feel satisfaction just for identifying what you want to do and WHY you want to do it. Allow yourself permission to let the dreams just sit in your heart or journal in peace for now. Most importantly, NO negative self talk (like you should have done it before you had kids, or you're too old, or it's a silly idea). Practice full acceptance and compassion that your idea is valid and important to you.

We all know that if you are going to do or see or be something, at some point you need to act. However, I believe that step three is having acceptance and compassion that what you envision is possible, doable and important. Once you feel that, the right time and the right people or the right cost or process will come to you or be presented by a friend. Something will bring the chance to make the dream a reality if YOU value and believe it. We are truly our own worst enemy when we devalue ourselves and our dreams and goals - so don't do that!

For me, going to New Hampshire to hike in the White Mountains, which was in part on the Appalachian Trail (noted in the first paragraph), was a way to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new (even though there are so many great hikes in Colorado and on the Colorado trail). I wanted to do it, and it ended up, two of my friends wanted that experience too. We allowed the plan to come to fruition, taking moments of inspired action, and letting the time for the right hike come to us. We signed up for a mailing list, and we joined the Appalachian Mountain Club (because that felt right and brought us information). We had periodic inspired conversations about how we might get out there or what equipment might be good. When the right hike came along, over a year later, we already had the inspiration and motivation to keep moving toward going. This was because we had compassion for ourselves and supported each other.

Once there, the other group members were initially surprised that we travelled so far for a hike. However, there was mutual respect, because we were doing something that motivated and inspired us. I believe it brought the group of women a bit closer together to know that we are all out here, moving toward our goals and aspirations. That gives us all hope. I don't know how I would have responded if the group told us how silly it was to drive all the way to New Hampshire for a hike. However, I truly believe the compassion and courage my friends and I had for ourselves in our process, allowed others the freedom to stay true to their dreams and goals. This is the freedom to be more fully ourselves, and that takes courage.


Reach out if you would like to join or create a group of people who are courageous - who inspire and support one another -

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