The Three Stages of Heroism
by Brian Germain
Life brings us many challenges that test our resolve, and guide us to our own brilliant true nature. The hero is not merely a person who does not experience fear at all, but one who knows the risks, feels the fear, and takes a deep breath and moves forward despite the trepidation. There are three distinct phases of our personal evolution in any fear evoking experience.
Stage One: "Fear Without Knowledge" or "Bravery Without Knowledge". In our initial encounter with danger of any kind, we have an innocence about the specifics, since we have not experienced this situation before. When we contract in fear to all novel situations, we are resorting to the expectation of the worst case scenario, usually based on our past experiences. We do not really know if we can proceed in safety or not, but we go with a "when in doubt, do nothing" approach. This winning formula results in closing the door to all new opportunities, thus depriving us of experiencing life in all of its colors. This is fear-driven prejudice in action.
When we choose to move forward without knowing the specifics, we are being brave due to ignorance and blind hopefulness. In this stage, we charge forward into danger, not really knowing what we are getting ourselves into. Positive expectation gets us flowing forward, and life is joy until we discover the limits of our understanding, skill and our power to control the variables.
Stage Two: "Fear With Knowledge". When we step over the line of safety due to our innocence, we learn more about the situation through bringing out the consequences to failure, and we inevitably encounter the protective instinct called fear. Fear's contraction easily becomes generalized, leading us to return to the constraining winning formula of: "When in doubt, do nothing", the freeze instinct. The desire to remain safe then overrides our desire to experience life, with the memory of the failure fresh in our minds. This is where most people stall out in the process, and pause in their personal expansion. When we continue looking in the direction we want to go, through the fear, we gradually creep back toward the edge of danger, and back toward life. This phase make take a long time, but it is a natural part of the process of transcending fear.
Stage Three: " Bravery With Knowledge". Following any traumatic event, there is a phase of questioning of our abilities. We reassess our skills and knowledge in this stage of development, and when we realize that we are capable of standing up to the challenge, we decide to move forward despite the fear. When accept that the benefits outweigh the risks, we take a deep breath, clear our minds of the past, and focus on our visualization and execution of the best case scenario. Knowing the consequences and moving forward anyway is the definition of true heroism. It is also the path to peak experience. When we break through genuine fear to the other side, we experience a particular form of euphoria that can only occur when we release huge resistance and go with the powerful flow of our intentions.
Life is full of opportunities to expand beyond our fears. Negative outcomes always send us into the latent phase of questioning our own abilities and dwelling on the negative past, but when we decide to take on the challenge, the benefits are massive. Though studying the risk with a clear head, we can learn how to better protect ourselves, and fuel our sense of bravery based on an enlightened understanding of the situation. Once we have accepted our ability, and choose to advance into dangerous country, we demonstrate our inner heroism. This is the nature of the human spirit, and the reaching toward our inner essence is how we experience the expansion that life leads us to.
When we cower in fear, and remain stuck in Stage Two, our essence screams out for expansion, and the suffering is intolerable. This is why the process of transcending fear is not a choice, but an imperative for human sanity. Either we expand or we are torn apart by the tidal forces created by falling short of being the person we know we are. When we choose to be brave despite our fear, we are demonstrating the magnificent heroism of human nature.
I invite your to enjoy this video of Joshua Germain demonstrating the three stages of heroism:
|Transcending Fear in the Rainforest|