Courage and Resilience

Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of courage is ‘the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation.’

Courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is doing what’s right in the presence of fear.

Cor is, in fact, Latin for heart, so courage is doing what is in your heart – acting upon what really matters even when fear is present.

This month I was speaking at an incredible fund-raising event where several people spoke about resilience in a variety of situations. As I listened in awe at their stories and how resilience had carried them through, what I noticed too was the great courage it also took for each to move beyond the difficult events.

I was struck by one speaker who had built a business again after having lost one due to a failed contract. This story sat with me because in his first business he had had the courage to go big. Through no fault of his own, it hadn’t worked out and he lost his business.

This man spoke about how he had initially taken work rather than setting up another business but has since gone on to set up another business. What I heard in his story was that his resilience had carried him through the most difficult of financial times and courage has brought him back to what was in his heart – the thing that was truly right for him – to set up and run another business.

We all have resilience and courage within us. Often, we have high expectations of what these ‘should’ look like.

Courage is often portrayed as as the roar of a lion, or an act of life-saving heroism. But there is also great courage in getting up when we are depressed, or going out to the corner shop when we are anxious about meeting people. We can see courage everywhere we look.

Similarly, resilience is also seen in getting up and getting through the day when we feel tired, lost or sad as well as surviving great hardships. We all have resilience within us; sometimes we don’t see it or know it is there, but it is the quiet presence that has driven us and enabled us to survive every day of our lives so far.

As I see it, resilience is what allows us to get through difficult times and to keep going. Courage is what enables us to do what matters in our lives, but courage is encouraged and supported by resilience – when we deeply know we have the ability to get through, we are more confident about acting courageously and doing what matters even when it feels hard.

As I listened to this man’s story, I realised that I am not always as courageous as I wish to be. I know I am resilient – I can see the evidence from my past – but courage takes a leap of faith into an unknown outcome, and I don’t always take that leap, because I am human, and as humans we rest more easily in the familiar.

The courage of another human has inspired courage in me – inspired me to think about making some changes. We often feel more held and determined when we are held and encouraged by others. I know I do.

What might you be inspired to do this month? What might you want to change or create, knowing you already have the resilience to get through, whatever the outcome?

Whatever it is, know that within you, you already hold the courage and resilience you need to give it a go.

Good luck!

With March love. Sarah ❤️



 How do I gently cultivate courage in my life?

Cultivating courage involves gradually facing your fears, starting with smaller fears and progressing at a pace that feels right for you. You can do this by setting small achievable goals and learning to embrace discomfort. Try practicing vulnerability – ask for support, allow yourself the space to succeed or fail – it is all growth.

How can I connect to and build resilience?

 We all have resilience and seeing times when our resilience has carried us through is an important reminder that we are resilient. It is also important to build a support network, practice mindfulness so that we can ground ourselves in the present and remind ourselves to look at our ability to find solutions rather than seeing only problems.

How can I know the difference between healthy or appropriate risk-taking and recklessness?

Healthy risk taking includes taking time to consider the decision, thinking compassionately about what is best for us and making decisions based on our goals and values – thinking about what really matters to us.

Reckless decisions are often impulsive with little consideration for the consequences or our safety and wellbeing.

Where does compassion fit in with fostering courage and resilience?

Self-compassion is central to courage and resilience because it involves treating ourselves with kindness, recognising our humanity and brings understanding during difficult times. It is the foundation of self-care and acceptance which allows us to move past setbacks and struggles.

What are some of the barriers to embracing courage?

Common barriers include fear of failure, perfectionism and self-doubt.

We can start to overcome these barriers by developing greater acceptance of ourselves, setting small gradual goals which help us face our fears, and seeking help and support from others when we need to.

How can I deal with setbacks or failures?

When we acknowledge that as humans we will make mistakes we start to recognise that they are just a part of life for us all whether we like it or not. Reframing failures as learning opportunities is helpful (sometimes this is easier to do after some time has passed). Self-compassion, perseverance and learning to adapt help us to continue to pursue realistic and meaningful goals step by step.

How can I balance the need for courage with the importance of self-care?

Finding balance includes creating realistic expectations, recognising personal limits and practising assertiveness to maintain your personal boundaries whilst still prioritising well-being.

This balance is about honouring the importance of growth AND self-care

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