The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.
~Frank Baum from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
One of my teachers says that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Courage is facing fear, not danger. Sometimes, if something is dangerous, our best option isn’t to face it but to run away. What’s important is knowing the difference between fear and danger. There will always be fear when there’s danger, but there won’t always be danger when there’s fear.
Most of what we fear is perceived danger. Our bodies are designed to protect us from lions and tigers and bears, oh my! But, unless we’ve fallen into Oz or are on an African safari, it’s unlikely that the dangers we’ll face are actual wild animals. Even other truly life-threatening events are rare.
Instead, our body interprets anxiety as a perceived danger, a potentially life-threatening situation that stimulates our fight-or-flight response, increasing stress hormones in our body. If we don’t relax our body and mind, we remain in a heightened state of anxiety.
We need some stress in our life to grow and change. But then we need to know how to turn off the stress response. By articulating what we’re afraid of and what the consequences of acting or not acting on that fear are most likely to be, we have a sense of control over what happens to us. We are active, instead of reactive. Making a choice and then stepping back to reassess allows our system time to reset and adjust. We’re surrounded by False Evidence Appearing Real, but we don’t have to fall for it.