I have been working as a counselor since 1983 when I was in graduate school.  That is a significant span of time in a helping profession.  Its has given me the opportunity to observe so many people in the process of change: to witness  a lot of what works and what doesn't. Part of being a counselor is both providing support to clients as well as personally investigating the areas in which we give guidance. We are both counselor and human being.

One of the big tendencies I have noticed in both my clients and myself, is to believe that once we are truly "evolved enough"or have grown enough, we will be rid of certain challenges such as experiencing fear, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, anger, etc.   It's as if there was a level of consciousness or state to reach in which one could just glide based on the work previously done to get there.  This is a false belief. It is what I refer to as magical thinking.

In this world, though we do expand, evolve and grow, the challenges and emotions that we may wish to overcome, are just part of our human nature.  Rather than trying to rid ourselves of our nature, it is much more powerful to learn how to work with it.  So for example, if fear is the emotion that I am grappling with at the time, instead of expecting myself to be fearless and beating myself up for not being so, I can learn how to expand with courage instead.

Courage means acting in the face of fear and doing what we really want to do.  As we practice using it wherever needed, that is how we start to develop strength of character. It is by working with our fear, that we learn to find a way through it.  A sense of accomplishment, confidence and satisfaction result from witnessing ourselves taking the action and evolving from the experience.  This is what the expression, "feel the fear and do it anyway" means. Notice it is not "be without fear and then achieve what you want in life".  In fact, if we don't know what fear is, then we can not really know what it is to have courage.

Over the years, I have practiced a variety of forms of meditation, yoga and spirituality.  I once went to a class related to one of these practices where the instructor said, "Truth lies between a pair of opposites". I had heard similar versions of this statement before but on this particular day it resonated with me in a new way.  It was an epiphany moment.  If I apply this quote to my thinking on fear and courage, it makes sense that strength of character which is grounded in reality of self development, is authentic growth born from our acts of courage.