What makes a subject to be decided?


Perhaps it is the courage, the absence of fear and the high determination? Psychology has been analyzing this dimension for years and, curious as it may be, it could be summed up in one fact: courage is making things happen. It is about generating positive changes even in difficult circumstances, in situations in which others would give up.

Martin Seligman, promoter of positive psychology, pointed out that courage is that dimension that acts as one of the most healing components during therapy. It is for a very basic reason. This factor generally has a genetic root and also an educational or environmental one.

Our parents often instill in us this proactive attitude towards life that reminds us that sometimes we have to put fear aside to achieve what we want. Now, if we have not had these reinforcements in childhood, if we have grown up with insecurities or we have suffered a traumatic experience, it is possible that the courage will fade and escape completely.

For this reason, Seligman conceives it as an essential element that must appear during the therapeutic process. When it arises thanks to the work between the professional and the patient's effort, it is evident that the person has made a change: it is perceived that within him he has already treasured enough determination and motivation to transform his life.

It is then, finally, that he decides to shape a new stage in which he feels more control and security to achieve well-being. And that is the best courage of all, the most enriching.

Courage is making things happen (and so we can do it)

Scientific literature says that courage arises as a result of a primary struggle with emotions such as fear. From a neurobiological point of view, it involves, first of all, regulating the influx of the amygdala, that brain region related to the most intense emotions. The same one that paralyzes us and kidnaps thought when she assumes power.

On the other hand, it implies in turn enhancing areas such as the prefrontal cortex, that area linked to decision-making, reflection, planning and attention to stimuli from the environment without the influence of fear or anxiety. In fact, much of the research available on this type of conduct comes from the military sphere (Neria, Solomon, Ginzburg and Dekel 2000) and from those stories in which certain soldiers carried out heroic acts in scenes of great danger.

"I was just able to stay calm and do what I had to do," say many of those young men educated to act in risky situations. Now ... what about the rest of the people? Can we be heroes without having to step on a battlefield?

Doctors Uhri Kugel, Catherine Haussman carried out a research work at the University of Oxford in which they reveal data that are worth considering. We analyze them.

Courage is romanticized, it's actually a cognitive ability

Courage is making things happen because we promote change. It is focusing on a goal in the midst of adverse circumstances. And no, you don't have to be a hero, a Lord Byron fighting against the Turks in Greek lands. Courage is a cognitive skill that we can all learn and apply, according to current science.

It basically consists of igniting our will to act despite fear, of ceasing to look at uncertainty and doubt to move forward and dare to act. Something like this is achieved by working the following dimensions:

  • Good management of anxiety. If we are able to recognize those thought patterns that imprison us in the corner of fear, we will restart our mentality to be able to act.
  • Be emotionally aware. Knowing how to connect with our emotions to transform them and use them in our favor and not against us.
  • Remember what our values, vital purposes and personal goals are.
  • Courage is to make things happen because we develop a very concrete capacity: to visualize the desired changes that we will achieve if we dare.

Courage is making things happen to aspire to a more fulfilling reality

Franco, Blau and Zimbardo (2011) defined courage as the ability to act prosocially despite personal risk. However, this definition currently receives some criticism. Courage is not always aimed at saving others. Courage is very necessary also to save ourselves.

As Martin Seligman already pointed out, for psychological therapy to be effective, the person must awaken her courage, ignite her determination to overcome her fears, limitations and insecurities and be able to achieve well-being.