No fear, no courage: there are 2 kinds of fear but courage is One

No fear, no courage: there are 2 kinds of fear but courage is One

No fear, no courage. Image of Fortitude looking into the lion’s mouth. If she wasn’t scared, it wouldn’t be courage! Sculpture on the Tomb of Clemens II (Bamberg Cathedral, Germany); image by Ludmila Kvapilova.

No fear, no courage

There are two kinds of fear.

There is only one kind of courage. It is unitary. It makes all things one–including the kind of fear connected with courage.

The other kind of fear is not connected with courage but with staying safe and same and sometimes sane.

Here’s what I mean.

Two Kinds of Fear


1. There is fear you have with an open heart. You want to do something and it’s scary. You’re not sure if you should do it because it’s so scary. To make yourself so vulnerable! Deliberately. Consciously. Yow! This is a fear of YES. Of what YES will feel like. When you have this fear, you are already halfway living in the new situation that comes after saying YES. You’ve been living there off and on for a while but as long as you don’t come out and say YES, you can stay in limbo and hide. You fear leaping into the abyss–which is quite often the fear of learning you can fly. You never knew! Once you fly, you have to acknowledge you know how–and probably keep on doing it.

2. There is another fear that feels frozen. It sounds like NOooo. This fear keeps you not wanting to lose comfort, safety, or even simply sameness (which we mammals equate with comfort and security, not wrongly). It’s a “what if?” fear. A fear of what others will think. Or do. To you. You have no concrete idea what that might be, and vagueness makes it scarier. It’s a fear of doom. The fear you are about to make a mistake that will doom you, your goal–and somehow, all your generations. This fear can be helpful keeping you safe and not risking what you should not risk at this time.

Courage is One


No fear, no courage

Courage is unitary. There is only one kind of courage. And it unifies.

It gathers strength to itself. It is brought about by Fear #1.

But it is not brought about by Fear #2!

Staying Safe is Not Courage

Fear #2 brings its own response, too. But it’s not courage.  Our response to Fear #2 is staying comfortable, safe, and same. Sometimes this also means staying sane. Let me speak up in favor of Fear #2 from personal experience.

“I won’t move til I’m ready” is how it sounds.

I also know this voice in people I coach, and I respect it. It is pointless to coach someone beyond their readiness. It’s my job to help you get ready but not to push you to do what is wrong for you. I don’t do it to myself, either.

It’s important to notice however that staying safe is not courage.

This may seem obvious, but when we are having Fear #1 and Fear #2, it can be hard to tell the difference between them, and hard to use the difference between them wisely.

The risk of courageously leaping brought about by Fear #1 is one thing.

The risk of continuing to stay safe brought about by Fear #2 is a different thing.

Both can be good for us. Both can be bad for us. But we need to discern the difference.

Just because you’re having fear doesn’t mean courage is the right response.
And just because you’re having fear doesn’t mean staying safe is the right response.

I wrote this post to help you examine your fear, and see if you can tell what kind you’re having. You can tell what kind you’re having if you can tell whether it’s calling you to courage or to staying safe and same. Both carry risks.


Use This Post!

I wrote this post for one of my soul-colleagues who was having both kinds of fear simultaneously: the fear of leaping and the fear of doom. We coached. But I often realize after coaching that I have more to offer. That’s when I blog about it. Because it may be useful to others having the same situation arise.

Courage need not be foolishly applied, but it is best not withheld foolishly.


For more posts to give you courage, try my “Never Waste a Good Mistake” and “Don’t wait to be happy til you like yourself.”

For help figuring out which voice(s) in you you’re hearing, try this series of simple, step-by-step posts.

And if promoting your work is what needs your courage just now, try this series.


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