It takes more than running from a fight to make a coward. It can also mean avoiding confrontation of any kind, or avoiding competition at all costs. It can mean never taking a risk, not speaking your mind, or never improving what you do.
For example, I have always been inclined to avoid competition, mostly because I believed I would always lose and I couldn’t handle defeat. What I never admitted to myself is that it makes me a coward. I kidded myself into thinking I was not a coward because I didn’t get into fights, so how else could I show my bravery? I conveniently forgot that I never competed, played dirty tricks when I argued, and at the final test of bravery, when mastering my fear would have given me my pilot’s license, I failed there too. Sure, there were other factors, but social anxiety was my downfall. It’s no excuse, because as a sapient being I should have been able to override it.
I’m not trying to whine here, nor beat myself up, but rather use my experience as an example to help make my point.
Knowing this about myself, where do I go from here, or where does another person go who has the same realization? After all, modern society encourages cowardice. How do we turn that around?
First, it’s important to recognize that fear doesn’t have to be in control.
We all have the ability to choose our actions no matter what our emotion is.
Bravery is a habit that can be built.
We can start small, build confidence, and move from there.
This takes practice and failure is not a reason to quit trying. If we keep trying, embrace our fears and move through them, we can start to win more often, until we win all the time.
There’s good news, though! Cowardice is not a life sentence, we can free ourselves at any time.
I’ll finish here with one of my favorite poems.
Courage is the price which life exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
From little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy you can hear
The sound of wings.
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate,
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion? Each time we make a choice we pay
With courage to behold resistless day
And count it fair.