Having the courage to act to improve

Having the courage to act to improve

The brave is the one who, despite fear, acts. Courage resides in those who, even in the worst circumstances, strive to change to achieve well-being and freedom. We talk about it in this article.

Having the courage to act to improve

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

What makes a person brave? Is it courage, fearlessness or great determination? Psychology has been analyzing this aspect of character for years and, curious as it may seem, there is a common aspect in the various definitions: having the courage to act allows you to achieve your goals. It is about striving to make positive changes in difficult circumstances or in which others would give up.



Martin Seligman, promoter of positive psychology, stressed that courage is the factor that acts as one of the most healing components during therapy. And for a very simple reason: this factor generally has a genetic root, as well as an educational and environmental one.

It is our parents who often instill this proactive attitude towards life in us; sometimes we have to put fear aside to get what we want. If we did not receive these reinforcements in childhood, if we grew up with insecurities or had traumatic experiences, the courage may completely fade.

For this reason, Seligman sees courage as an essential element that must appear during the therapeutic process. When it appears, thanks to the work of the doctor and the effort of the patient, it becomes evident that the person has made a change. In these cases, it is perceived that the person has been determined and has found within himself the necessary motivations to change his life.



It is at that moment that, finally, he decides to shape a new phase of his life in which he has the control and security necessary to achieve well-being. This is the best kind of courage, the one that enriches us the most.

Having the courage to act brings us closer to success

The scientific literature states that courage arises as a result of a primal struggle against emotions such as fear. From a neurobiological point of view, it is, first of all, to regulate the influence of the amygdala, that area of ​​the brain linked to the most intense emotions. The same one that paralyzes us and controls our thoughts when it takes over us.

Having courage also involves empowering areas such as the prefrontal cortex - an area of ​​the brain linked to decision making, reflection, planning, and attention to environmental stimuli - without the influence of fear or distress. Much of the research on courage comes from the military (Neria, Solomon, Ginzburg and Dekel 2000) and from those stories in which some soldiers performed heroic acts in extremely dangerous situations.

“I managed to stay calm and act” is the typical phrase of many young people trained to intervene in risky situations. And for everyone else? Can we be heroes without necessarily being on a battlefield?

Drs Uhri Kugel and Catherine Haussman conducted research at the University of Oxford which gives us interesting data. Let's analyze them together.

It is a cognitive skill

Having the courage to act makes the difference because the change, in this case, comes from us. We focus on achieving a goal despite the adverse situations. And you don't have to be a hero like Lord Byron who fought the Turks in Greece. According to current science, courage is a cognitive skill that we can all learn and use.



It consists in stimulating our will to act despite fear, in stopping being uncertain and doubtful, but continuing and acting. This is possible by working on the following aspects:


  • Good anxiety management. If we are able to recognize the thought patterns that imprison us in fear, we will be able to reset our mind to take action.
  • Be emotionally aware. We need to know how to connect with our emotions to transform them and use them in our favor (and not be victims of them).
  • Remind us what our values ​​are, our goals and our personal goals.
  • View the changes which, if we dare, will allow us to obtain what we desire.

Having the courage to act is to promote change in order to aspire to a more satisfying reality

Franco, Blau and Zimbardo (2011) defined courage as the ability to act prosocially despite personal risk. This definition has received some criticism: courage is not always geared towards saving others. It is also useful for saving ourselves.

As Martin Seligman pointed out, for psychological therapy to be effective, a person must awaken their courage and strengthen their determination to overcome fears, limitations and insecurities in order to achieve well-being. In this way, a person will feel more empowered to get what they want and make changes that bring them closer to happiness.


As they say, people often live on faith and hope. However, what can truly transform our reality is action. Courage is a magical combination of emotions, thoughts and feelings geared towards improvement and aimed at promoting positive change for us and for others. It is important to remember this.

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