The Antidote to Fear & Anxiety – The Courage Story Exercise

The antidote for fear, anxiety and nervousness is the cultivation of courage. There are a variety of ways to do this. The most useful for my clients has been to write out your own Courage Story.

Bravery and valor are arguably among the most important of the 24 character strengths. And they fall within the virtue cluster of courage. I’ve always found a truckload of truth in this quotation:

“The secret of life is this: When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them.”

So let me ask you to think back over your life:

“What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”

Sample answers I’ve heard: Moving across country to a new city without a job…. Going back to school as a single parent with an infant….Staying with my dearest friend as she died of cancer…..Learning to dance at 60…Applying to a graduate program at UC Berkeley….

Mine was facing down my own social anxiety to do a daily primetime radio show.
What’s yours?

Writing Your Courage Story.

Write a succinct one page story about the most courageous thing you’ve ever done. The time period could range from minutes to days or months to years. Be sure to give your story a clear, crisp ending.

Elements to include might be:

• The situation,
• What you feared,
• Why it required your courage,
• What your experience felt and looked like (details are good, sensory details are better!)
• How you acted despite the fear,
• And be sure to give your story a solid, richly detailted ending.


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.