How to Turn Fear into Courage

My sister lives a half a world away from me, in Australia, but we’re still sisters, and when an anxious situation occurs, we fear.

We fear those present circumstances are too much for us to manage. We fear that we might not make it through with our world intact. We fear not just because we are emotional females but because we love. We care about our families, the lives we lead, the people around us. We invest a lot, and we worry that we might lose some or all of that.

I suspect fear is not unique to my sisters and me.

Rachel told her powerful story of Fear (and all the gory details) when a freak accident severely injured her husband on a remote camping trip in Australia. Any comment I would have left on her blog would seem trivial compared to what they experienced. And while she told a tale of fear, her story inspires me with courage.

If you haven’t read it, stop and do that now. Nothing I write will convey the kind of courage that Rachel had and that we all have. We are stronger than we think. I know. I’ve been there with an injured husband, too. And when it’s your tragedy, it is real and intense and scary but sometimes it’s too surreal, like Rachel says, like “watching someone else’s tragedy unfolding.”

So how did she turn fear into courage? Here’s what I gleaned from her story:

Don’t let panic rule you. When your kids are yelling or others become hysterical, don’t let panic take over. As Rachel said, she wanted to cry out when she saw the injury, but “that won’t help anybody.” She set aside her emotion and responded in an even tone, even as the moment and her son erupted. That’s something to use in every tense situation.

Turn to what’s familiar for comfort. On the ride to the hospital, Rachel was able to compose herself and keep Chris talking by singing with him. It kept them going—literally. Whether it is familiar songs or whispered prayers, the comforting and intuitive words we verbalize in moments of fear can calm us.

Find relief in what’s working. Everything doesn’t fall apart in a crises, but it feels like it. Rachel found relief to cope when cell service returned, when she could eat, when she didn’t have to fill out loads of paperwork, when she could take a hot shower.  What seems insignificant every day is often a very significant source of relief when life is hard.

Recognize the help and express gratitude. All along the way, Rachel literally drew strength from others—her friends, the husband who drove them and the wife who cared for their children;  the doctor’s and nurses who performed their jobs well; his brother who came to visit and help. Our lives are certainly not in danger every day but we do receive help that propels us over minor bumps that never become major ones. How I appreciate that help in time of tragedy or peace.

Rachel may be my younger sister, but she’s the one showing me how to be brave.

What about you? How do you conquer fear and find courage?



1 Comment

  1. Camille
    Mar 1, 2013

    If she didn’t realize she had learned these things, then your outside view of their story is enlightening. And having time away from the trial, I’m sure helps you see what you learned. Yes, we do have very brave sister. I just wish she wasn’t so far away!

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