How to Build Courage

Two Parts:Identifying Your FearsDeveloping Behaviors that Build Courage

Courage is a personality trait that everyone possesses but it sometimes falters because of bad experiences or memories. Having courage is necessary to succeed in many situations in life from meeting the opposite sex to doing your job. But by identifying the source of any lack of courage and actively changing your behaviors, you can build confidence in any aspect of your life.

Part 1
Identifying Your Fears

  1. Image titled Build Courage Step 1
    Determine your specific fears. People are often reluctant to admit that they are afraid of something and this may be undermining their confidence and courage. In order to begin building courage, you need to determine your specific fear.[1]
    • You may not even be aware of your specific fear(s) until you begin to think about what causes you to lack courage.[2]
    • Write a list of your fears as you figure them out. This may help you to develop a plan to overcome them and build your courage.
    • This will likely not be an easy exercise because it often causes a person to feel embarrassed or ashamed.[3]
  2. Image titled Build Courage Step 2
    Figure out the cause of your fears. The lack of courage, or timidity, often stems from some form of fear that is learned through experience or memory.[4] Identifying the sources of your specific fears can help you to begin taking proactive steps to change this behavior and ultimately gain courage in any situation.
    • Thinking about specific experiences that may have contributed to your lack of confidence and countering them with positive experiences can help to get you in the proper frame of mind to start building your confidence and courage. For example, perhaps you fear rejection by the opposite sex because someone rejected you once before. To offset this fear, think about situations where the opposite sex has welcomed you.[5]
    • If you cannot identify a specific experience that is the source of your fear, it may be from a memory or a social fear, such as of the shame of failure. For example, if you’ve never touched a snake, but are afraid of them, this may stem from someone related to you either telling you that snakes are dangerous. You can offset memory fears by actively thinking about when and how these fear may have been realized in the past.
    • Thinking about your fears and their sources can help you to grow out of them over time. Simply acknowledging your fears may be the only thing you need to overcome them.[6]
  3. Image titled Build Courage Step 3
    Recognize your courage. Just as it’s important to identify your fears, you should also recognize that you also possess courage in many situations. Taking the time to acknowledge that you are courageous can help you to figure out how to apply this quality to situations in your life that cause timidity.[7]
    • Everyone possesses courage in some way, even if it’s “hidden” or seemingly simple. For example, you may be open to moving often to other parts of your country or world, which requires courage not only to start over in new situations but also to take the risk of possible failure.
    • Recognizing your courage can help you to develop your behavior and begin building courage in every aspect of your life.
  4. Image titled Build Courage Step 4
    Develop a concrete plan to build your courage. Once you’ve identified your specific fears and recognized situations where you exhibit courage, develop a concrete plan to work on building your courage. Having an explicit strategy you can follow may help you stay on track if you have setbacks or see your progress over time.
    • Write out your plan and update it as necessary. Having a tangible list can help motivate you.
    • For example, if you are afraid of driving alone on a highway, you can develop a plan to help you get used to it until you have the courage to take on the task. Your plan might include the items “ride in the passenger seat on the highway, drive with a friend or family member on major roads, drive alone on major roads, drive with a friend or family member on a highway, drive alone on the highway.”

Part 2
Developing Behaviors that Build Courage

  1. Image titled Build Courage Step 5
    Script situations that elicit your fears. Tackling a fear can cause any person to lose confidence and avoid a situation that could otherwise help them build confidence. Employing the behavioral tactic of scripting can help you engage with otherwise scary situations and build courage.[8]
    • Scripting is a technique where you conceptualize a game plan or “script” for a specific situation and follow through with it. For example, if you are scared of speaking to your boss, write notes and develop a plan that will allow you to have equal command of the meeting. Think about what you could say in response to any questions or contingencies that may arise in your interaction.[9]
  2. Image titled Build Courage Step 6
    Frame what you fear in simpler terms. If you’re confronted with something that causes you fear or to lose courage, frame it in simple terms. Framing is a behavioral technique that can help you shape how you think and feel about specific situations by making them seem commonplace or banal.[10]
    • For example, if you are afraid to swim in the ocean, you can reframe it as “this is just a very large pool and I will stay within this specific area.”[11]
    • Working with smaller and more manageable units of anything will help build your courage.[12]
  3. Image titled Build Courage Step 7
    Avoid comparing yourself to others. Every person is different and comparing yourself to other people can minimize your self-confidence. Focusing on yourself and not comparing yourself to others is essential to building your confidence and courage.
    • Keep it mind that while some people may possess courage in some situations, you likely possess it in others that they may not.[13] If you get into a situation with someone who has courage in a situation that you don’t, for example if fellow teammate never seems to worry about letting others down and you do, think about something that you excel at that they don’t. Shifting the focus back to your ability can help you to see that you have courage.
    • Many people may project courage in order to intimidate others. Don’t let another person’s courage or confidence undermine yours.
  4. Image titled Build Courage Step 8
    Embrace the positive and avoid the negative. Negative thoughts and attitudes are draining and if you give in to them, they will become stronger and undermine your confidence and courage. Seeking out the positive in any situation will help build your overall courage.[14]
    • Even in the most fearful situations, there is always something aspect of courage. It might take some time to recognize, but being able to see these courageous aspects in anything will help build your confidence and courage.[15]
  5. Image titled Build Courage Step 9
    Have confidence and believe in your ability to be courageous. Two characteristics of a courageous person is that they not only have confidence in themselves, but also that they believe in their ability to succeed and overcome fears.[16] By cultivating and projecting confidence in yourself and to others, you set yourself on the path for build and maintain courage.[17]
    • Confidence comes from many sources, including knowing that you have a good education and training, good relationships, or even that you look good. This confidence can help bolster your courage and make you feel more willing to tackle your fears.[18]
    • It’s important to know that even if you are confident and courageous, that failure is an important part of overcoming fears and growing.[19]
  6. Image titled Build Courage Step 10
    Take risks and accept failure. Part of building your courage is taking risks, some of which will be successful and others of which may fail. The ability to take a risk and accept the potential failure can significantly help to boost your confidence and courage in the future.
    • Simply stepping out of your comfort zone will help to build confidence.[20]
    • Take calculated risks and move slowly. For example, if you are afraid of heights, start to build your courage in high places slowly. You can climb to a three-meter diving board and look into a pool or take the stairs to the top of a small building. You don’t have to skydive from a plane to tackle your fear of heights and build courage.[21]
    • Accept that there is going to be failure in any endeavor. Learning to embrace the failure and then move on can help to not undermine your courage and allow you to continue taking calculated risks.[22]
  7. Image titled Build Courage Step 11
    Use obstacles to your benefit. Take obstacles that present themselves in your life and turn them into assets. This is another form of taking risks and can help to boost your courage and confidence.[23]
    • There is a famous story about Nelson Mandela who decided to change South Africa after being told by a tribal elder that his status as a second class citizen would effectively mean he wasn’t a man. Using Mandela’s model of taking an obstacle and turning it into an asset can help you gain the courage to overcome your hindrances.[24]
    • For example, perhaps you have an injury that makes it difficult to take part in certain sports. Finding certain ways to modify playing a sport you want can significantly build your courage.[25]
  8. Image titled Build Courage Step 12
    Take the road less traveled. Taking the road less traveled not only requires taking risks, but also having the courage to act differently than others. Standing by your convictions, even if they’re unpopular, and taking unconventional paths can help increase your courage.
    • For example, if you want to set up a school for children in a remote valley of Nepal instead of going to law school like your friends after college graduation, take the steps to follow your dream. It takes significantly more courage to travel your path than to do what society and friends may expect of you.
  9. Image titled Build Courage Step 13
    Relax and have fun as much as possible. Being able to relax and have fun in any situation can help you to build courage. Not focusing on the potential for failure and staying positive can help you be successful in any situation, which may lead to greater confidence and courage.
    • One study showed that positivity, including in the form of relaxation and having fun, contributes significantly to successfully overcoming situations. [26]
  10. Image titled Build Courage Step 14
    Keep moving forward. You’ll occasionally have negative thoughts, which is normal and acceptable, but learn not to dwell on them. By always moving towards the positive, you will be able to change your negative attitude.[27]


  • Appearances can be deceptive. Many people project courage and confidence even when they don’t possess it. Learning from these people’s ability to project these feelings can help you build your confidence.


  • Don't pretend to be someone you're not. That would be cowardice. Accept yourself and do what it is that you, yourself, truly want to do.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (24)

Article Info

Categories: Emotional Health