As a writer and pastor, I’m passionate about helping people bust myths which hold them back from living with courage and hope. The beginning of my book, Forgiveness: From Myth to Reality, breaks down several myths about forgiveness and reconciliation which I’ve seen prevent people from experiencing healthy relationships.
While many people avoid forgiveness because they misunderstand it, the sad truth is many of us have also bought into myths about courage and fear.
We misunderstand courage and fear. And once we buy into myths about these two, it’s no longer the real circumstances we face which hold us back. The limiting beliefs we’ve internalized become our greatest enemies.
Drawing from the wisdom of some of my most popular interviews over the last three years, I hope to bust 7 common myths about fear and courage. My wise friends will help you to (re)discover truth today and step forward into a year of unprecedented courage.
1. There’s a magical point where we become courageous.
Allison Fallon is a prolific writer, ghostwriter, and creative coach. I met Allison in Nashville a couple years ago when she spoke to some of my friends and me who were pursuing publishing.
In our interview, she talked about how she thinks through taking courageous steps.
“First off, I think it’s a bit of a myth that we’ll reach a point where we suddenly feel courageous. Courage comes in tiny doses, and usually comes right along with shaking hands, a squeaky voice and a pounding heart. And what I’ve found is that when we put off our creative work, the anxiety we feel (which is different than fear—it’s constant and pressing) grows. So you can choose to be scared now, and do that thing you’re putting off, and experience the growth and peace that comes afterward. Or, you can choose to avoid the thing that scares you now, never have to feel that stomach-turning feeling of fear, but choose to be underwhelmed and unsatisfied with your life and feel that low, dull ache of anxiety all the time. That anxiety comes from living incongruent with yourself.”
2. Courage is something reserved for the early season of our life.
Valerie Peterson and I go way back to high school. I was captain of the baseball team and she was captain of the cheerleaders.
When I interviewed Valerie, she was managing the contestants on NBC’s hit show, The Voice. We talked about what she learned about facing her own fears through her work on the show.
“Fear has most definitely kept me from pursuing my own dream. I think that there comes a certain point when we start to feel that taking risks is a thing of the past. That “living on the edge” was something you could do when you didn’t have the responsibilities that come with growing up– mortgages, health care, children, retirement, but they all come with a price and a sacrifice— and let’s be real here, those plans (not just things!) for the future are expensive!”
3. Fear is always a bad thing.
Keith Savage is my younger brother and one of the most inspiring people I know. His day job includes caring for student-athletes as an athletic trainer at the University of La Verne. His side hustle is photography.
As in many areas, Keith is a contrarian and likes to help people see a perspective they’ve been overlooking.
“If I was talking to someone who was battling fear, I would tell them they are not alone. I would tell them that fear is a part of life. It cannot be avoided and shouldn’t be avoided. Fear is something to listen to and understand and decide when it is protecting you and when it is holding you back.
So I think fear is sometimes a healthy thing that keeps us from doing things because they are not the best choice. So fear cannot be painted as always negative. It is a survival instinct. Sometimes it needs to be ignored, sometimes it is the voice of reason.”
4. We’re the only ones dealing with these fears.
We talked about her lessons from failure and pain.
“One of the most amazing things about pregnancy and motherhood is finding out that you’re not alone. I remember being at home with my son when he was a few weeks old and I was trimming his nails when I accidentally trimmed his finger. Not his nail, his FINGER. Oh, his cries and mine were epic. After we both calmed down, the first thing I did was text every mom in my phone and ask them to please tell me they had done the same thing. I got instant replies confirming they had all done it, and most were happy to share stories that were much worse to make me feel better. That was a turning point for me as a mom because I finally felt free to be honest and not act like I had it all together.“
5. If our fears come true, we’ll be destroyed.
Ben Arment has been a trailblazer for a long time. I first met Ben when he was starting conferences and innovating in that space. Since then, he’s “burned the ships” to pursue his dream of writing fiction. He’s also helped his wife Ainsley turn her dreams into reality by founding the Wild + Free Community!
Ben and I talked about the lies we believe about failure.
“Once you fail at something, you don’t fear it anymore. You realize it’s not that bad. You recover from it and use that experience to go to the next level. I’ve been able to mask my failures with solid branding and vision, but I’ve had my utilities shut off in the pursuit of great ideas. Most people would be horrified to experience something like that. And in fact, failure often sends people reeling back to the security of someone else’s cubicle. But close brushes with financial disaster have helped me keep a steady heart rate through difficult times and find the courage to take bigger risks.”
6. More education and knowledge will defeat fear.
Ben’s interview was so good I had to include a second myth he busted. He talked about the limits of education and the importance of action. As a pastor, I strongly believe that unceasing knowledge accumulation can become a proxy for taking action and applying what we already know.
“You don’t overcome fear by reading books about it or waiting until the time is right. You just start going after it. You pick up the phone today, write that email now, start chapter one tonight, and so on. They train security forces to handle threats by exposing them to danger over and over again until they can face them at a normal, operating heat rate. The same is true for you. There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, reading books, or waiting until your skills catch up. It’ll never happen. You have to get started now. Breathe into a paper bag if you must. But face your fears with action.”
7. We have to figure out the unknown to become courageous.
Jessica Pierce turned her misery into her ministry. After losing her job in the Great Recession, Jessica founded Career Connectors, a program designed to help job-seekers find their next career. The church I served in Phoenix hosted one of Career Connectors’ monthly meetings.
In our interview, Jessica shared how the job seekers she served changed their view on their fears and worst nightmares over time.
“I’ve worked with over 22,000 people that have gone through a career transition. The individual stories of the talented folks that come through our program are so inspirational. Almost every person that comes through our program and lands a job, will someday say that they are glad they went through a career transition. They are in a better place since being removed from the previous company.
What is one myth you’ve believed or heard about courage and fear? How did it hold you back? How is it currently holding you back?