Finding courage and confronting a bully, a friend, or yourself is a task that presents challenges. For one thing, we must learn the location of courage if we are to find it. Where should we look for courage? Many people search for years and fail to find it. Is finding courage – confronting a bully, a friend, or yourself with that courage – and resolving the problem an impossible dream?
No, it is not an impossible dream. It is a possible reality. The secret, as a realtor might say, is location, location, location. Where should we search to find courage?
Four Possible Locations
- DNA, genetics, and heredity – A scientific search will show the things with which we were born. It can reveal the freckles and button nose our parents passed down to us. It will not reveal courage, however. Courage does not exist within our biological makeup.
- Personality – This set of emotional qualities receives much credit for what we are and do. Sift through personality and we may find traits such as charm and cheerfulness, but we will not find courage. Courage does not reside within our emotional makeup.
- Temperament – Recent studies suggest that we were born with temperament intact. Dig into the way we usually respond to life, and we may find skepticism or happiness, but we will not find courage. Courage does not live within our temperamental makeup.
- Character – The inner moral firmness that permeates our lives, once we consciously build and maintain it, controls our behavioral actions. Examine consistent behavioral patterns and, if we have built it, we will find courage. Courage dwells in our moral fiber.
Many look for courage in all the wrong places, resembling those who refuse to ask directions, traveling here and there in confusion. Even when told that they will not find courage in the areas being searched, they refuse to listen. They exert huge amounts of effort on finding courage that will meet their confrontational needs, but they come away empty-handed. What is the answer?
Futile efforts to seek courage must give way to constructive efforts to build courage – beginning with a clear understanding of what courage is.
Consider this definition found in the book Courage, co-authored by David and Elizabeth Hamilton.
“Courage is conscious moral strength, motivated by conviction, that ventures, perseveres, and withstands danger, fear or difficulty, recognizing and willing to accept the consequences of action.”
The authors break down that definition into eleven (11) elements. We will consider only four components of courage in this article. Those four are vital in confrontation.
Conscious Moral Strength
Those who build courage must do so with conscious effort. They must work to understand the trait as fully as possible. They must value courage as a moral value and desire that strength for themselves. Whether their desire arises from bullying, friendship problems, or a need to face themselves for who they really are, they crave moral courage.
Motivated by Conviction
Courage never stands alone. The action of courage springs from heart convictions. Intellect fails to motivate courage. Only strong, inner conviction gives it a reason for action – for jumping into the fray in the face of bullying dangers, friendship difficulties, or fears of self’s failures.
Convictions vs. Preferences
Convictions differ from preferences, and we must understand the difference before we seek to use courage in confrontational situations. We must call on strong convictions when we confront a problem.
Preferences, on the one hand, put one choice before another. Preferences can change without changing the essence of who we are. We will change our preferences before we will risk punishment for having them. We dare not confront another person with preferences. Telling a bully that we prefer not being harassed, for example, will accomplish nothing.
Convictions, on the other hand, present no choices or variation. Convictions cannot change without changing the very essence of who we are. We will readily suffer many things for our convictions, and will even accept death rather than change our convictions. We choose firm ground when we choose to confront on convictions.
Finally, courage involves consequences. We must expect consequences when we exercise courage in confronting someone. We must expect positive after-effects, but be prepared for negative ones. That person we confront, even the one in the mirror, will respond. We may receive positive results or negative results, but courage is prepared to accept either.
In Part 2 of this series, we will look more closely at the connection between courage and the bully that we choose to face.
Finding courage – confronting a bully, a friend, or yourself with that courage – and hoping for positive change is an exercise in futility. Building courage – confronting a bully, friend, or yourself with strong moral courage – and hoping for positive changes is an effective practice.