Courage in the face of fear


Courage is essential in our lives. It allows us to face challenges head-on and overcome adversaries. In this article, we will explore why courage is an important virtue for Stoics. We will explore ways in which Stoics can be courageous each day. We will also look at how courage relates to the other cardinal virtues of Stoicism. By the end, you will be able to apply courage in all your actions and see how you can reap its benefits.

Lion roaring
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

What is Courage?

Courage, or fortitude, is defined in the dictionary as the ability to do something that frightens one. It is one of the cardinal virtues of Stoicism. In relation to Stoicism, we can define it as the ability to remain strong, calm, and in control of one’s emotions, no matter the situation life puts you in. The Stoics believed that courage was a learned virtue. It allowed one to withstand pain, fear, and other difficult emotions without giving in. As we go through life, hardships and challenges are thrown straight to our faces and we have the choice of either giving in or facing them. Fortitude as a value allows Stoics to face these challenges, control their emotions, focus on what is in their control, and focus on their purpose. This helps them lead a fulfilling life.

How Stoics Exercise Courage

We have seen how fortitude amplifies the Stoic’s life to a higher form. How then, do we exercise courage in our daily lives? The Stoics believed that all four virtues are related. Practicing each and every one of them every day helps you achieve the other slowly by slowly. Exercising courage in our daily lives is essential to leading a happy life. Here are ways to do that:

Practice facing our fears – This could involve doing things that made us feel anxious or uncomfortable, such as speaking in public places. The Stoics found out that by repeatedly facing our fears, we would eventually become desensitized to them and they would no longer hold the same power over us.

Frog leaving with suit case
Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Lastly, seek out support – Having the courage to seek out support from your family, friends, and therapist is a step in the right direction. It solidifies the fact that you are ready to do whatever it takes to develop this virtue in yourself. Trusting others to help you in situations where you cannot help yourself builds wisdom in your judgments and the ability to form relationships that bring positivity to your life.

Rise again

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela.

From this quote, we learn that no matter what life has thrown at you in the past, you need to keep on going and do what you can to achieve your goals in life. Life is not meant to be easy. There will always be challenges. Satisfaction in life comes from being able to overcome these challenges. The courage to stand up when life throws its valleys and hills at you is what makes us appreciate ourselves for being strong.

Whenever we feel overwhelmed, we can always remind ourselves that our thoughts and emotions are not facts. We have the power to choose how we respond to events outside our control. Got fired from our job? Your loved one passed away? Failed that exam or interview?  Fine; rise, take a step back, and view it from a different perspective. You will find that you learned a thing or two from that situation. Next time, you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you.


Life will always find a way to throw a stone at you. You can’t run away from this. You will always fear what will happen when you take the next step in life. This is natural and unforgiving. Despite all that, developing the fortitude to face all the challenges in your way will allow you to face life with calmness and good judgment to take the next actions. As a Stoic, courage is very essential in developing all the other virtues. You cannot control external events, but you can always control you react to them. Learn to control your emotions and you will find that you always have the wisdom to determine your next steps in the face of fear.

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