The other day I was looking through a book called, ‘How to Survive Without Psychotherapy’ by David Smail. From what I read, it was clear that this was someone who was not too keen on the type of approach that is often taken when it comes to mental and emotional problems.
He didn’t like the fact that so much weight was put on the individual, when the reason they were not in a good way was largely because of the society that they lived in. Putting the onus solely on the individual was seen as something that wasn’t good for their mental health either.
Something else I also came across was his view on how people develop confidence and courage. When it came to courage, he said that courage comes from being encouraged.
This was then not something that people were born with; it was something that they developed. The point in time when this was first said to develop was during their childhood years.
So, through having parents that were encouraging, someone would be able to develop courage. This would have been a time when they gave them the support that they needed and made it clear that they were capable.
It might not have mattered the challenge was as they would have been told that they had what it took and, even if something didn’t go to plan, they would have been able to get through it. These positive messages would then have been internalised, thereby giving them the inner strength to face discomfort and to take action.
The Ideal Scenario
David Smail saw this as a time when someone’s “tank” was filled. What they received at one stage of their life would have prepared them for the rest of their life.
Their parents would have prepared them for the outside world, giving them what they needed to stand on their own two feet. If someone can relate to this, they are likely to be the exception as opposed to the rule.
A Common Occurrence
For a lot of people in the world, their early years were a time when they received very little, if any, encouragement. This may have been a time when they were put down and ignored by the very people that were supposed to build them up.
As a result of this, not only can they lack courage, they can also experience a far amount of fear. Their “tank” is going to be empty and the part of them that is only interested in their survival – the reptile brain – can be hyperactive.
An important Task
Thanks to the messages that they received, they can have no belief in themselves and fear the world. It can then be normal for them to avoid any kind of discomfort and to avoid taking action.
One way of looking at this would be to say that they need to find someone who will give them encouragement, which will allow them to develop courage. This is something that a friend, coach or an elder can provide.
The belief that someone like this has in them will allow them to gradually develop their inner strength. What is taking place externally will gradually become part of who they are.
Another thing that can help one to develop this part of them is to work through the trauma that they are likely to be carrying. If they are carrying a lot of trauma, it can cause them to experience a lot of fear, and this will make it ever harder for them to be courageous.
In this case, they won’t just experience a small amount of fear; it can be as if they are in a warzone. The fear that they experience can extinguish any courage that they experience - like a small amount of water can put out a small fire.
Still, a small amount of water can’t put out a big fire, and this is why it will be easier for them to be courageous if they work through their trauma. The main thing is that they reach out for the right support and don’t allow their past to define their life.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.