“Let me not beg for the stilling of pain, but for the heart to conquer it” Rabindranath Tagore
The word courage contains in its root the French word ‘coeur’ (i.e. heart). In its etymology, courage implies an ability to face negative circumstances with a heart full of determination.
The ability to examine one’s heart and mind is essentially an act of courage that is at the center of the client/therapist relationship.
Courage is a gateway emotion that ushers a nascent positive attitude in the face of fear. In psychological matters, courage requires a willingness to stop avoidance and to take accountability for one’s behaviors, thoughts and emotions. Emotional growth incurs through that willingness to face the fear response.
In studies of phobia, subjects were divided into 2 categories. One category was taught to face the stimulus of the phobia (for example a snake) and the other category was taught to ignore and avoid the stimulus. The fear response showed up at first in greater intensity in the category one subjects but then it decreased in greater amounts in that group thereafter. By contrast, the control group subjects did not experience a spike in their fear response but that fear response lingered to higher levels and longer periods of time than in the group one subjects.
Courage grows within the bounds of a trusted relationship between client and therapist. Resonance and respect for a client’s pace and readiness provide a cocoon in which the wings of courage strengthen until it is time to take flight. I am inspired every day by my clients’ acts of courage, big and small. Their walk into courage gives me the heart to support them in conquering pain.