Common Courage Looks Like Us

Big Displays of Courage Matter Less Than the Little Things

Colleen Mitchell
Feb 26 · 3 min read

I’ve written before about courage in a piece titled “9 Uncommonly Courageous Things You Should Consider Doing”. There, you’ll find suggestions like standing up for what you believe in, pursuing success even when you fear it, and investing in yourself despite what others might think.

I consider all of those things to be “uncommon” courage, which means that the average person is surprised when they see someone doing those things.

But What About Common Courage?

Are there things that everyone does that could be considered courageous? I think so, but I also think they overlap a bit with the “uncommon” courage. In Ruth Soukup’s words:

“Courage doesn’t mean we are never afraid. Instead, courage is being scared but taking action anyway, despite our fear. It is putting one foot in front of the other, even when we’re not quite sure where the path will lead us.”

Courage and “doing it scared” can happen in all of the nooks and crannies of our life:

  • Getting out of bed even though you’re feeling depressed.
  • Taking your dog on a walk even though the last thing you want to do is go outside.
  • Meeting your friend for lunch in an unfamiliar part of the city, which scares you.
  • Driving to the hospital to see your grandparent at the end of their life.
  • Admitting to yourself that you have a problem, either with drugs or alcohol or something else equally or more addictive, like sugar.

These things don’t feel that courageous.

They feel more scary and upsetting than what we’ve painted courage to look like.

None of these look like a shining knight on a white horse, courageously coming to rescue us from whatever perils are snapping at our ankles.

The most common type of courage is, as Ruth says, putting one foot in front of the other despite not knowing where you’ll end up.

And Just Making it That Far is Okay

You don’t need to force yourself to practice uncommon courage far in advance of when you can actually handle it.

You need to build up to the bigger stuff.

I love Ruth’s Do It Scared podcast. She fills every episode with takeaways that inspire, ignite, and encourage.

If you look deeper into her personal history, about which she’s quite open, you’ll find that one could consider her very existence a testament to courage.

There are still a lot of things I don’t feel comfortable doing.

Things that are scary, some that I want to do but don’t know if I can, yet know I should anyway.

And some things that feel so far out of reach — but only because I’m too focused on the possibility of failure.

The Antidote to Everything You Fear is Taking One Single Step

  • Throwing off the covers and getting out of bed.
  • Lacing up your shoes and putting the leash on the dog.
  • Putting in the address on Google Maps and finding out where to park before you leave.
  • Praying in the car before you turn the ignition and drive to the hospital.
  • Saying to yourself, out loud, “I have a problem.”

If you’re scared to do it, that probably means you should.

The Ascent

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Colleen Mitchell

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Helping you cut through the chaos of anxiety, self-doubt, and overwhelm to become the best version of yourself. Pick your path @

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.

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