Courage Conquers Fear

How Courage Conquers Fear

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Courage to Change Your Life

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Nelson Mandela

Fear and Courage

What is the life-changing difference of between being afraid and conquering fear?

Conquering fear begins by accepting that fear is part of human life. The most liberating insight is to recognize that fear is not the only factor in your mind. You can choose to "feel the fear and do it anyway" or you can stifle yourself to protect yourself from danger. The essential point is that you can be afraid and courageous at the same time.

How does courage relate to fear? Courage is not about lack of fear. Courageousness is a decision to act despite your fear. The essence of courage is to do what you choose to do, no matter how afraid you are.

Consider what Nelson Mandela said about courage and fear.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Conquering Apartheid

The critical word to ponder is conquer. What is most fascinating and empowering about the etymology of the word conquer are the definitions: "to search for, to procure by effort, to win." In other words, "to conquer" is to set out on a deliberate effort to overcome something.

Nelson Mandela's life was a living demonstration of what it means to set out to conquer some sort of adversary. In his case, the adversary was apartheid.

Apartheid refers to a system of racial segregation and discrimination that separated white South Africans from black South Africans. The system was in place from 1948 to 1991. Although racial discrimination was not new in South Africa, the system was thorough and wide-reaching in its determination to enforce its racist views on all levels of the entire country.

Apartheid resulted in massive opposition within South Africa and other countries in the world. Nelson Mandela was a powerful opponent who spent twenty-seven years in prison for his efforts to end apartheid.

Although many people throughout the world have had many reasons to fear, few people have demonstrated so powerfully what it means to conquer fear as Nelson Mandela. No one endured as much to end apartheid as Nelson Mandela. His long and arduous struggle began as an opponent of apartheid, continued as prisoner of the government, and then resulted in the end of apartheid and his election as president of South Africa.

The Amazon description of Mandela's autobiography includes these comments: "The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time..., brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela's destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting..., the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader."

Discover more about Mandela's life of courage in  A Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

[Original Post September 9, 2014]

What are your thoughts and tips for conquering fear? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

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