爱思英语编者按:我想让你从这篇文章了解到的最重要一点是,真正的勇气实际上是种思维技巧,而非情感表现。

清醒生活的勇气.jpg

Security is mostly a superstition.
安全大抵虚幻,

It does not exist in nature,
世间无处寻觅。

nor do the children of men
芸芸众生,

as a whole experience it.
无人有此经历。

Avoiding danger is no safer
避险难计久长,

in the long run than outright exposure.
不如现身搏击。

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
抑或险中求胜,抑或碌碌无为,人生非此即彼。

To keep our faces toward change and
让我们直面改变,

behave like free spirits
行如自由之灵,

in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
翱翔命运天际,是为不败之力。

— Helen Keller “Let Us Have Faith”(海伦·凯勒 《让我们心怀信仰 》)

In our day-to-day lives, the virtue of courage doesn't receive much attention. Courage is a quality reserved for soldiers, firefighters, and activists. Security is what matters most today. Perhaps you were taught to avoid being too bold or too brave. It's too dangerous. Don't take unnecessary risks. Don't draw attention to yourself in public. Follow family traditions. Don't talk to strangers. Keep an eye out for suspicious people. Stay safe.

But a side effect of overemphasizing the importance of personal security in your life is that it can cause you to live reactively. Instead of setting your own goals, making plans to achieve them, and going after them with gusto, you play it safe. Keep working at the stable job, even though it doesn't fulfill you. Remain in the unsatisfying relationship, even though you feel dead inside compared to the passion you once had. Who are you to think that you can buck the system? Accept your lot in life, and make the best of it. Go with the flow, and don't rock the boat. Your only hope is that the currents of life will pull you in a favorable direction.

No doubt there exist real dangers in life you must avoid. But there's a huge gulf between recklessness and courage. I'm not referring to the heroic courage required to risk your life to save someone from a burning building. By courage I mean the ability to face down those imaginary fears and reclaim the far more powerful life that you've denied yourself. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of going broke. Fear of being alone. Fear of humiliation. Fear of public speaking. Fear of being ostracized by family and friends. Fear of physical discomfort. Fear of regret. Fear of success.

How many of these fears are holding you back? How would you live if you had no fear at all? You'd still have your intelligence and common sense to safely navigate around any real dangers, but without feeling the emotion of fear, would you be more willing to take risks, especially when the worst case wouldn't actually hurt you at all? Would you speak up more often, talk to more strangers, ask for more sales, dive headlong into those ambitious projects you've been dreaming about? What if you even learned to enjoy the things you currently fear? What kind of difference would that make in your life?

Have you previously convinced yourself that you aren't really afraid of anything... that there are always good and logical reasons why you don't do certain things? It would be rude to introduce yourself to a stranger. You shouldn't attempt public speaking because you don't have anything to say. Asking for a raise would be improper because you're supposed to wait until the next formal review. They're just rationalizations though - think about how your life would change if you could confidently and courageously do these things with no fear at all.

在我们日复一日的生活中,勇气这种美德并未收获太多关注。勇气是给战士、消防员和社会积极分子预留的性格品质。安全感才是人们今天最看重的。也许你就曾被教导,要避免过于大胆或勇敢。那样做太危险。不要冒毫无必要的风险。不要在公共场合吸引人们注意力。追随家庭传统。不要跟陌生人说话。留心那些可疑人士。保持安全。

但在生活中过度看重个人安全感的一个副作用,就是它会让你进入反应型生活模式。与设立出个人目标,为达成它们制定计划,并放胆追求相反,你只想采取安全玩法。即使难享心满意足,你也一直紧守着稳定工作。就算与曾有的激情相比,现在感到内心一片死寂,你也仍停留在索然无味的感情关系里。你以为你是谁,敢去反抗整个制度?接受你的生活现状,尽力过好这种日子吧。随波逐流,而非击桨前行。你唯一能希望的,就是生活之流会把你带向自己满意的方向。

毫无疑问,生活中存在你必须躲避的真正危险。但在莽撞和勇气之间,有着巨大鸿沟。我指的并非那种英雄式勇气,需要你冒生命危险从燃烧建筑里救出某人。我说的勇气,是指降服那些想象出的内心恐惧,重获你一直否认,但自己本该享受的有力生活。

害怕失败。害怕拒绝。害怕破产。害怕孤独。害怕丢脸。害怕演讲。害怕被家人和朋友排斥。害怕身体上的不适。害怕后悔。害怕成功。

这些恐惧有多少在拖你后腿?假如没有任何恐惧,你又想如何生活?我们都拥有个人智慧和常识,能安全引导自己躲避真正的危险。但若不再有心怀恐惧的情绪感受,尤其当最坏情形其实也将毫发无损时,你是否就更愿去冒险?你愿意更大胆发言,和更多陌生人交谈,寻求更多销售成果,一头扎进那些始终梦想实现的雄心项目中吗?如果你甚至学会享受这些眼前恐惧的事情,又将怎样?这能给你的生活带来何种不同

你此前是否说服过自己,认为你实际上并不害怕任何事情... 你之所以不做它们,总是有合乎逻辑的良好理由?向陌生人主动自我介绍会显得粗鲁。你不该尝试公开演讲,因为自己没什么好讲的。要求加薪不太恰当,因为你该等到下次正式业务评估时再提出。但这些理由都是心理辩解 — 请想想若你能毫无恐惧,自信勇敢地做这些事情,你的生活又将发生何种改变?

What Is Courage?
什么是勇气?

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
勇气并非没有恐惧,而是判断出有比躲避恐惧更重要的事情值得做。

— Ambrose Redmoon (安布罗斯·雷德蒙,美国作家)

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
勇气是对恐惧的反抗和掌控 — 而非没有恐惧。

— Mark Twain (马克·吐温,美国作家)

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
勇气就是怕得要死,但仍驭马前征。

— John Wayne (约翰·韦恩,美国影星)

I like the definitions of courage above, which all suggest that courage is the ability to get yourself to take action in spite of fear. The word courage derives from the Latin cor, which means "heart." But true courage is more a matter of intellect than of feeling. It requires using the uniquely human part of your brain (the neocortex) to wrest control away from the emotional limbic brain you share in common with other mammals. Your limbic brain signals danger, but your neocortex reasons that the danger isn't real, so you simply feel the fear and take action anyway. The more you learn to act in spite of fear, the more human you become. The more you follow the fear, the more you live like a lower mammal. So the question, "Are you a man or a mouse?" is consistent with human neurology.

Courageous people are still afraid, but they don't let the fear paralyze them. People who lack courage will give into fear more often than not, which actually has the long-term effect of strengthening the fear. When you avoid facing a fear and then feel relieved that you escaped it, this acts as a psychological reward that reinforces the mouse-like avoidance behavior, making you even more likely to avoid facing the fear in the future. So the more you avoid asking someone out on a date, the more paralyzed you'll feel about taking such actions in the future. You are literally conditioning yourself to become more timid and mouse-like.

Such avoidance behavior causes stagnation in the long run. As you get older, you reinforce your fear reactions to the point where it's hard to even imagine yourself standing up to your fears. You begin taking your fears for granted; they become real to you. You cocoon yourself into a life that insulates you from all these fears: a stable but unhappy marriage, a job that doesn't require you to take risks, an income that keeps you comfortable. Then you rationalize your behavior: You have a family to support and can't take risks, you're too old to shift careers, you can't lose weight because you have "fat" genes. Five years... ten years... twenty years pass, and you realize that your life hasn't changed all that much. You've settled down. All that's really left now is to live out the remainder of your years as contently as possible and then settle yourself into the ground, where you'll finally achieve total safety and security.

But there's something else going on behind the scenes, isn't there? That tiny voice in the back of your mind recalls that this isn't the kind of life you wanted to live. It wants more, much more. It wants you to become far wealthier, to have an outstanding relationship, to get your body in peak physical condition, to learn new skills, to travel the world, to have lots of wonderful friends, to help people in need, to make a meaningful difference. That voice tells you that settling into a job where you sell widgets the rest of your life just won't cut it. That voice frowns at you when you catch a glance of your oversized belly in the mirror or get winded going up a flight of stairs. It beams disappointment when it sees what's become of your family. It tells you that the reason you have trouble motivating yourself is that you aren't doing what you really ought to be doing with your life... because you're afraid. And if you refuse to listen, it will always be there, nagging you about your mediocre results until you die, full of regrets for what might have been.

So how do you respond to this ornery voice that won't shut up? What do you do when confronted by that gut feeling that something just isn't right in your life? What's your favorite way to silence it? Maybe drown it out by watching TV, listening to the radio, working long hours at an unfulfilling job, or consuming alcohol and caffeine and sugar.

But whenever you do this, you lower your level of consciousness. You sink closer towards an instinctive animal and move away from becoming a fully conscious human being. You react to life instead of proactively going after your goals. You fall into a state of learned helplessness, where you begin to believe that your goals are no longer possible or practical for you. You become more and more like a mouse, even trying to convince yourself that life as a mouse might not be so bad after all, since everyone around you seems to be OK with it. You surround yourself with your fellow mice, and on the rare occasions that you encounter a fully conscious human being, it scares the hell out of you to remember how much of your own courage has been lost.

我喜欢上面对勇气的定义,它们都指明勇气就是让自己采取行动,无论恐惧是否存在。英文单词courage(勇气)源自拉丁语的cor,其意思为“心”。但真正的勇气更属于一种智性,而非心理感受。它要求人们利用自己独一无二的新大脑皮层,夺取你和其他哺乳动物共有的情绪性脑边缘皮层对自身的控制。你的脑边缘皮层常会发出危险信号,但新大脑皮层可通过理性分析判断危险并不真实,因而你能在依然恐惧的感受下采取行动。你越是学会在不畏恐惧的情形下行动,就越能展现作为人类的伟大之处。你越是追随恐惧行为,就越会活得像个低级哺乳动物。因此“你到底是人还是只老鼠?”这种问题,与人类神经学事实完全相符。

勇敢之士依然害怕,但他们不会让恐惧瘫痪自己。那些缺乏勇气的人们多半爱向恐惧投降,这其实会给强化恐惧带来长期影响。当你回避面对恐惧,之后为躲过它而感到解脱放松时,这样的行动就像一种心理奖励,强化了胆小如鼠的躲避行为,使你更有可能在未来回避直面恐惧。因此,你越是回避邀人外出约会,就越会在未来对这类行动感到无能为力。你本质上就是在驯化自己,变得更担惊受怕和胆小如鼠。

长此以往,这种回避行为就将造成停滞不前的生活状态。随着自己越来越老,你对个人恐惧反应的强化,甚至能达到连去面对这些恐惧都难以想象的程度。你开始认为自己的恐惧理所应当;它们对你而言也变得更加真实。你把自己包裹在隔绝了所有这些恐惧的生活里:比如一场稳定但毫无幸福可言的婚姻,一种无需你冒任何风险的工作,一份令你始终都很舒服的收入。随后你会对个人行为进行心理辩解:我要维持家庭所以没法冒险,我太老了所以没法转变工作,我有“肥胖”基因所以没法减重。五年… 十年… 二十年就这样过去了,然后你意识到个人生活毫无变化。你已经安定下来。生命中真正剩下的,就是尽可能心满意足地过掉剩余日子,然后让自己安然入土。你终于在那里实现了彻底的安全和保险。

但这种人生背后好像有其他什么东西在挣扎,不是吗?那从脑后传来的细小声音,让你想起这并非你要的活法。那个声音渴望更多,比这种安全生活要多得多。它想让你变得更加富有,拥有一份不同凡响的感情关系,让个人身体处于巅峰状态,学习更多新技能,环游世界,结识众多美妙朋友,帮助需要帮助的人们,给世界带来有意义的改变。那个声音告诉你,安于一份后半辈子都去卖零件的工作根本毫不值当。当在镜子里或上楼时瞟见自己的大肚子,这个声音会朝你皱眉。当它看见发生在你家庭的现实时,也会流露失望。它会告诉你,你难以激励自己行动的原因,就是没有干自己生命真正该做的事情… 因为你充满恐惧。倘若你拒绝倾听这个声音,它将永远存在那里,为这种平庸结果叨扰着你,直至你死去,让你心中满怀对本可实现的美好生活的无限遗憾。

你该如何回应这个不肯闭嘴的顽固声音?当生活里总有觉得什么事情不对的直觉感应时,你又该怎样行动?为了让它安静下来,你最喜欢的解决方法是什么?也许就是看电视、听广播、在毫无意义的事务上长时间工作,或用消费酒精、咖啡和糖品的方式来淹没它。

但不论你何时用这些方法麻醉自己,都在降低自身的意识水平。你向着依靠本能行动的动物状态陷得越深,距离一个完全清醒的个人也就越远。你对生活只是被动回应,而非积极主动地追求人生目标。你坠入一种逐步习得的绝望状态,导致自己开始相信那些目标都不再可能实现,或是现实可行。你变得越来越像只老鼠,甚至试图劝说自己相信,像老鼠一样生活可能也没那么糟,因为身边所有人似乎都对这种生活毫无问题。你让周围遍布鼠类同伴,只是偶尔才遇见一个完全清醒的人类。想起自己丧失掉多少个人勇气,会把你吓得魂飞魄散。

Raise Your Consciousness
提升个人清醒意识

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
生活会随着一个人的勇气成比例地收缩或扩张。

— Anais Nin(阿娜伊斯·宁,美国传奇女作家)

Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.
勇气是生活在赋予人心灵平静时,索要的代价。

— Amelia Earhart(阿美利亚·伊尔哈特,美国飞行家)

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
每次令你面带惧色的经历,都会让人收获力量、勇气和自信。你将能告诉自己:“我已历经这番恐惧,可以直面随后而来的下次挑战。”你必须去做认为自己做不到的事情。

— Eleanor Roosevelt (埃莉诺·罗斯福,美国总统罗斯福的夫人)

The way out of this vicious cycle is to summon your courage and confront that inner voice. Find a place where you can be alone with pen and paper (or computer and keyboard). Listen to that voice, and face up to what it's telling you, no matter how difficult it is to hear. (The voice is just an abstraction - you may not hear words at all; instead you may see what you should be doing or simply feel it emotionally. But I'll continue to refer to the voice for the sake of example.) This voice may tell you that your marriage has been dead for ten years, and you're refusing to face it because you're afraid of divorce. It may tell you that you're afraid that if you start your own business, you'll probably fail, and that's why you're staying at a job that doesn't challenge you to grow. It may tell you that you've given up trying to lose weight because you've failed at it so many times, and you're addicted to food. It may tell you that the friends you're hanging out with now are incongruent with the person you want to be, and that you need to leave that reference group behind and build a new one. It may tell you that you always wanted to be an actor or writer, but you settled for a sales job because it seemed more safe and secure. It may tell you that you always wanted to help people in need, but you aren't doing so in the way you should. It may tell you that you're wasting your talents.

See if you can reduce that voice to just a single word or two. What is it telling you to do? Leave. Quit. Speak. Write. Dance. Act. Exercise. Sell. Switch. Move on. Let go. Ask. Learn. Forgive. Whatever you get from this, write it down. Perhaps you even have different words for each area of your life.

Now you have to take the difficult step of consciously acknowledging that this is what you really want. It's OK if you don't think it's possible for you. It's OK if you don't see how you could ever have it. But don't deny that you want it. You lower your consciousness when you do that. When you look at your overweight body, admit that you really want to be fit and healthy. When you light up that next cigarette, don't deny that you want to be a nonsmoker. When you meet the potential mate of your dreams, don't deny that you'd love to be in a relationship with that person. When you meet a person who seems to be at total peace with herself, don't deny that you crave that level of inner peace too. Get yourself out of denial. Move instead to a place where you admit, "I really do want this, but I just don't feel I currently have the ability to get it." It's perfectly OK to want something that you don't think you can have. And you're almost certainly wrong in concluding that you can't have it. But first, stop lying to yourself and pretending you don't really want it.

脱离这种恶性循环的出路,就是召唤自身勇气并直面心声。带上笔纸(或电脑和键盘),找个你能单独待着的地方。倾听那个声音,勇敢面对它述说的内容,无论听取过程有多么艰难。(声音在此只是抽象比喻 — 你可能听不见任何言语;也可能会直接看出自己该做什么,或从情感上直接体验到这份感受。但我会继续用声音来比喻举例。)这个声音可能告诉你,自己婚姻已名存实亡十多年,但你拒绝面对事实,只是因为害怕离婚。它可能告诉你,自己害怕创业后很可能要面对失败,而这就是你停留在一份难以挑战自我成长的工作中的原因。它可能告诉你,自己准备放弃减肥想法,因为你已失败过那么多次,而且你对食物过度上瘾。它可能告诉你,自己现在拥有的朋友,与你想成为的那种人毫不一致,你需要远离这类人群,创建一个新社交群体。它可能告诉你,你一直想成为一个演员或作家,但现在安于一份销售工作,只因为这样看起来更安全保险。它可能告诉你,你总想帮助那些需要帮助的人们,但从没用自己应当采取的方式行动。它还可能告诉你,你正在浪费自己的天赋才华。

看看你能否将此声音缩减至一两个字词。它在告诉你该做什么?离开。辞职。演讲。写作。跳舞。表演。锻炼。出售。交换。前进。放手。询问。学习。原谅。不管你从中想到什么,直接把它写下来。或许你在生活中的每个领域甚至都有对应的不同词汇。

现在你必须迈出艰难一步,清醒承认这就是你真正想要的结果。若你不认为自己能够做到,完全没问题。如果你看不出自己到底该如何获得这种结果,也没有问题。但不要否认你不想要此结果。当你否认时,就在降低个人清醒意识。当你看见自己身体超重,就承认你确实想要身体匀称健康。当你点燃下一根香烟,不要否认你想成为不吸烟者。当你遇见自己潜在的梦想对象,不要否认你愿和此人共享爱情。当你遇见似乎能完全平和处世的一个人,不要否认你也渴望那种层次的内心平静。将自己拖出否认的泥沼。向着完全承认事实的领地移动:“我真的想要这样,只是现在感觉没能力实现它。”你想要拥有自认为无法获得的事物,这完全不是问题。匆忙得出你无法拥有它的结论,几乎肯定错误。但是首先,请停止对自己撒谎,别假装你并非真的想要那种结果。

Move From Fear to Action, Even if You Expect to Fail
从恐惧走向行动,即使你预想自己会失败

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
当一个果敢的年轻人,走到恶霸、俗世面前,大胆扯其胡子时,常会惊讶发现,胡子都脱落在他手中。原来这些胡子被粘到脸上,只是为了吓走那些胆怯的冒险者。

— Ralph Waldo Emerson(拉尔夫·沃尔多·爱默生,美国思想家。)

Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.
若我们下定决心勇敢跨过,而非畏缩不前,大多数困难都将融化消散。

— Orison Swett Marden(奥里森·斯维特·马登,美国励志大师)

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.
勇气和毅力乃神奇护身符,困难与障碍在它们面前都将烟消云散。

— John Quincy Adams(约翰·昆西·亚当斯,美国第六任总统)

Now that you've acknowledged some things you've been afraid to face, how do you feel? You probably still feel paralyzed against taking action. That's OK. While diving right in and confronting a fear head-on can be very effective, that may require more courage than you feel you can summon right now.

The most important point I want you to learn from this article is that real courage is a mental skill, not an emotional one. Neurologically it means using the thinking neocortex part of your brain to override the emotional limbic impulses. In other words, you use your human intelligence, logic, and independent will to overcome the limitations you've inherited as an emotional mammal.

Now this may make logical sense, but it's far easier said than done. You may logically know you're in no real danger if you get up on a stage and speak in front of 1000 people, but your fear kicks in anyway, and the imaginary threat prevents you from volunteering for anything like this. Or you may know you're in a dead end job, but you can't seem to bring yourself to say the words, "I quit."

Courage, however, doesn't require that you take drastic action in these situations. Courage is a learned mental skill that you must condition, just as weight training strengthens your muscles. You wouldn't go into a gym for the first time and try to lift 300 pounds, so don't think that to be courageous you must tackle your most paralyzing fear right away.

There are two methods I will suggest for building courage. The first approach is analogous to progressive weight training. Start with weights you can lift but which are challenging for you, and then progressively train up to heavier and heavier weights as you grow stronger. So tackle your smallest fears first, and progressively train up to bigger and bigger fears. Training yourself to lift 300 pounds isn't so hard if you've already lifted 290. Similarly, speaking in front of an audience of 1000 people isn't so tough once you've already spoken to 900.

So grab a piece of paper, and write down one of your fears that you'd like to overcome. Then number from one to ten, and write out ten variations of this fear, with number one being the least anxiety-producing and number ten being the most anxiety-producing. This is your fear hierarchy. For example, if you're afraid of asking someone out on a date, then number one on your list might be going out to a public place and smiling at someone you find attractive (very mild fear). Number two might be smiling at ten attractive strangers in a single day. Number ten might be asking out your ideal date in front of all your mutual friends, when you're almost certain you'll be turned down flat and everyone in the room will laugh (extreme fear). Now start by setting a goal to complete number one on your list. Once you've had that success (and success in this case simply means taking action, regardless of the outcome), then move on to number two, and so on, until you're ready to tackle number ten or you just don't feel the fear is limiting you anymore. You may need to adjust the items on your list to make them practical for you to actually experience. And if you ever feel the next step is too big, then break it down into additional gradients. If you can lift 290 pounds but not 300, then try 295 or even 291. Take this process as gradually as you need to, such that the next step is a mild challenge for you but one you feel fairly confident you can complete. And feel free to repeat a past step multiple times if you find it helpful to prepare you for the next step. Pace yourself.

By following this progressive training process, you'll accomplish two things. You'll cease reinforcing the fear/avoidance response that you exhibited in the past. And you'll condition yourself to act more courageously in future situations. So your feelings of fear will diminish at the same time that your expression of courage grows. Neurologically you'll be weakening the limbic control over your actions while strengthening the neocortical control, gradually moving from unconscious mouse-like to conscious human-like behavior.

The second approach to building courage is to acquire additional knowledge and skill within the domain of your fear. Confronting fears head-on can be helpful, but if your fear is largely due to ignorance and lack of skill, then you can usually reduce or eliminate the fear with information and training. For example, if you're afraid to quit your job and start your own business, even though you'd absolutely love to be in business for yourself, then start reading books and taking classes on how to start your own business. Spend an afternoon at your local library researching the subject, or do the research online. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and any relevant trade organizations in your field. Attend conferences. Build connections. Enlist the help of a mentor. Build your skill to the point where you start to feel confident that you could actually succeed, and this knowledge will help you act more boldly and courageously when you're ready. This method is especially effective when a large part of your fear is due to the unknown. Often just reading a book or two on the subject will be enough to dispel the fear so that you're able to take action.

These two methods are my personal favorites, but there are many additional ways to condition yourself to overcome fear, including neuro-linguistic programming, implosion therapy, systematic desensitization, and self-confrontation. You can research them via an online search engine if you wish to learn such methods and increase the number of fear-busting tools in your arsenal. Most of these can be easily self-administered (implosion therapy is the notable exception).

The exact process you use to build courage isn't important. What's important is that you consciously do it. Just as your muscles will atrophy if you don't regularly stress them, your courage will atrophy if you don't consistently challenge yourself to face down your fears. In the absence of this kind of conscious conditioning, you'll automatically become weak in both body and mind. If you aren't regularly exercising your courage, then you are strengthening your fear by default; there is no middle ground. Just as your muscles automatically atrophy from lack of use, so your courage will automatically decay in the absence of conscious conditioning.

Now this may sound overly gloomy, so here's a positive way to look at it. Heavy weights can be a physical burden, but they are helpful tools to build strong muscles. You would not look at a 45-pound dumbbell and say, "Why must you be so heavy?" It is what it is. Heaviness is your thought, not an intrinsic property of the dumbbell itself. Similarly, do not look at the things you fear and say, "Why must you be so scary?" Fear is your reaction, not a property of the object of your anxiety.

Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow. So when you encounter a new fear within yourself, celebrate it as an opportunity for growth, just as you would celebrate reaching a new personal best with strength training.

现在你承认了自己一直害怕面对某些事物,感觉如何?你很可能仍对采取行动感到畏缩不前。这没什么。虽然一头扎进其中,直接面对自身恐惧会是非常有效的做法,但那可能需要更多勇气,超出你当前可以召唤的程度。

我想让你从这篇文章了解到的最重要一点是,真正的勇气实际上是种思维技巧,而非情感表现。从神经科学方面讲, 勇气意味着用主管思维的新大脑皮层,去压制主管情绪的边缘皮层的冲动反应。换句话说,你要利用人类的智慧、逻辑和自由意志,来克服自身作为情绪性哺乳动物所遗传的行为局限。

虽然上述解释完全符合逻辑,但说出来远比做到容易。若你要登台在1000人面前讲话,可能从逻辑上,你知道自己并未处在真正危险中,但还是会产生恐惧心理。那想象出的威胁会阻碍你从事任何诸如此类的志愿工作。或者,你可能知道现有工作是个死胡同,但依旧难以让自己说出这句话:“我要辞职。”

然而,勇气并不需要你在这些情形下采取激烈行动。勇气是种必须通过训化才能学会的思维技巧,就像通过负重训练来强化个人肌肉一样。你不会首次走进一家健身房就试图举起300磅的重量。所以,不必认为要变得勇敢,你就必须立刻处理自身最惊怕的恐惧。

我建议用来建立勇气的方法有两种。第一种途径类似于渐进式负重训练。先从你能举起但仍颇有挑战的重量开始,然后随着自己不断变强,逐渐用越来越大的重量进行训练。所以请首先处理你面对的最小恐惧,再逐步训练去克服越来越大的恐惧。假如你能举起290磅重量,训练自己举起300磅就没那么艰难。与之相似,一旦你能面对900人演讲,在1000人面前演讲就没那么可怕。

所以,请拿起一张纸,写下你想克服的个人恐惧之一。然后从一到十,为此恐惧写出十种轻重表现层级。数字一表示最轻的焦虑,数字十表示最重焦虑程度。这就是你的恐惧层级体系。例如,若你害怕邀请某人外出约会,那么个人列表上的第一层恐惧可能就是去往公众场所,对某个你发现很有魅力的人士微笑(非常轻微的恐惧)。第二层恐惧可能是一天之内向十个很有魅力的人士微笑。第十层恐惧则可能是,当你几乎确定自己会被彻底拒绝,而且现场所有人都将哄笑时,仍在双方共同朋友面前,邀请理想对象外出约会(极端恐惧)。现在,请开始设定一个目标,先克服列表上的第一层恐惧。一旦你获得那个成功(此处成功就是指采取行动,不管结果如何),再移向第二层恐惧。以此类推,直到你准备好处理第十层恐惧,或者你已感到不再受恐惧的任何限制。你可能需要调整自己列表上的事项,使其在实际体验中现实可行。若你感到下一步过于困难,就将其细分为另外几步行动。如果你能举起290磅重量,而非300磅,就先尝试295磅,甚至是291磅。请根据个人需要逐步完成此过程,使下步行动对你来说是个轻微挑战,但又觉得可以自信完成。自由自在重复练习上步内容,只要你发现这样做有助于为下步行动做好准备。让自己从容掌控进度。

通过这种逐步训练过程,你将成就两件事情。你会停止强化以往所表现的“恐惧/回避”反应模式。而且你将训化自己在未来更勇敢大胆地行动。因此你对恐惧的感受,将随着不断成长的勇敢表现而烟消云散。在神经系统方面,你的勇敢行动会弱化边缘皮层的控制力度,同时强化大脑新皮层的控制力,让自己逐渐从无意识的鼠辈表现,转移到清醒自主的人类行为。

建立勇气的第二条途径,就是在你所恐惧的领域,获取额外知识和技能。迎头面对恐惧可能对克服它有所帮助,但如果你的恐惧很大程度上源于无知和技能匮乏,那你就可通过接受更多信息和培训,降低或消除这种恐惧。例如,若你即便显而易见热爱经营自己的生意,仍害怕辞掉工作开创个人事业,那就开始阅读有关如何创业的书籍并去上这类课程。花一下午在当地图书馆研究此主题,或是在网上做调查研究。加入本地商会,以及任何你所在行业的相关贸易组织。参加各种会议。建立各种有益关系。获取某位导师的帮助。培养自身技能,使之达到你开始相信能取得实际成功的程度。而且这份知识将帮你在做好准备时,更大胆勇敢地采取行动。当你的恐惧很大程度上源于未知感时,这种方法便尤其管用。经常只是读一两本相关主题的书,就足以驱散恐惧,让你能开始行动。

这两种方法是我个人最爱,但还有其他许多方式可训练你克服恐惧,包括神经语言程序法(NLP),恐怖症外压疗法,系统脱敏法,以及自我对质法。假如你想学习这类方法并增加个人武器库里的破恐工具数量,完全能通过网上搜索来研究它们。这些方法中的大多数都可轻松自行实施(恐怖症外压疗法例外)。

你用于建立勇气的具体过程并不重要。重要的是你在清醒自主地这样做。正如你的肌肉若不经常锻炼就会萎缩一样,如果你不持续挑战自己去面对个人恐惧,你的勇气也将萎缩。当缺乏这种清醒自主的训化练习时,你会自动变得在身体和思维上都很虚弱。倘若你没有经常锻炼个人勇气,自身恐惧就将默认得到加强;两者没有中间地带可言。就像肌肉在缺乏使用时会自行萎缩,你的勇气在缺乏清醒训化时也将自动衰弱。

上面的说法听起来可能过于沮丧,但我们还有一种看待它的积极方式。沉重杠铃可以是身体上的负担,但它们也是塑造强健肌肉的有益工具。你不会盯着一个45磅的哑铃说:“你干嘛要这么重?”它该是怎样就是怎样。过于沉重是你的想法,而非哑铃本身的固有属性。与其相似,你不必看着自己恐惧的事物然后说道:“你干嘛如此可怕?”恐惧只是你的个人反应,而非你焦虑之物的固有属性。

恐惧并非你的敌人。它是一个指南针,指向你需要成长的领域。因此当你遇上一种新恐惧时,请把它作为一次成长机会来庆祝,就像你为自己在负重训练上达成的最佳新成绩而庆祝一样。

Catch a Glimpse of Your Own Greatness
看出你自身的伟大

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
人人皆有天赋。罕见的是追随个人天赋,步入幽暗未知领地的那份勇气。

— Erica Jong(埃丽卡·容,美国女作家)

The highest courage is to dare to appear to be what one is.
勇气的最高表现,就是敢于展现真我。

— John Lancaster Spalding(约翰•兰卡斯特•斯波尔丁,美国作家)

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
无论做什么,你都需要勇气。不管要下出何种决定,总有人说你是错的。生活里也总有艰难困阻,诱使你相信那些批评家都是对的。制定行动计划并坚持到底需要战士般的坚强勇气。和平终将胜利,但它需要勇敢的男人与女人奋勇争取。

— Ralph Waldo Emerson(拉尔夫·瓦尔多·爱默生,美国作家、思想家)

So what do you do with your newly developed courage? Where will it lead you? The answer is that it will permit you to lead a far more fulfilling and meaningful life. You will truly begin living as a daring human being instead of a timid mouse. You will uncover and develop your greatest talents. You will begin living far more consciously and deliberately than you ever have before. Instead of reacting to events, you will proactively manufacture your own events.

Courage is something you can only truly experience alone. It is a private victory, not a public one. Summoning the courage to listen to your innermost desires is not a group activity and does not result from building a consensus with others. Kahlil Gibran writes in The Prophet, "The vision of one man lends not its wings to another man." The purpose of your existence is yours alone to discover. No one on earth has lived through the exact same experiences you have, and no one thinks the exact same thoughts you do.

On the one hand, this is a lonely realization. Whether you live alone or enjoy the deepest intimacy with a loving partner, deep down you must still face the reality that your life is yours alone to live. You can choose to temporarily yield control of your life to others, whether it be to a company, a spouse, or simply to the pressures of daily living, but you can never give away your personal responsibility for the results. Whether you assume direct and conscious control over your life or merely react to events as they happen to you, you and you alone must bear the consequences.

If you commit to following the path of courage, you will ultimately be forced to confront what is perhaps the greatest fear of all - that you are far more powerful and capable than you initially realized, that your ultimate potential is far greater than anything you've experienced in your past, and that with this power comes tremendous responsibility. You may not be able to solve all the woes of this planet, but if you ever do commit yourself 100% to the fulfillment of your true potential, you can significantly impact the lives of many people, and that impact will ripple through the future for generations to come.

What is the difference between you and one of those legendary historical figures who did have such an impact? You both had many of the same fears. You both were born with talents in some areas and weaknesses in others. The only thing stopping you is fear, and the only thing that will get you past it is courage. What you do with your life isn't up to your parents, your boss, or your spouse. It's up to you and you alone.

Catching a glimpse of your own greatness can be one of the most unsettling experiences imaginable. And even more disturbing is the awareness of the tremendous challenges that await you if you accept it. Living consciously is not an easy path, but it is a uniquely human experience, and it requires making the committed decision to permanently let go of that mouse within you. Going after your greatest and most ambitious dreams and experiencing failure and disappointment, running butt up against your most humbling human limitations instead of living with a comfortable padding of potential - these fears are common to us all.

The first few times you encounter such fears, you may quickly retreat back to the illusory security of life as a mouse. But if you keep exercising your courage, you will eventually mature to the point where you can openly accept the challenges and responsibilities of life as a fully conscious human being. Continuing to live as a mouse will simply hold no more interest for you. You will acknowledge within the deepest recesses of your being, I have awakened to this incredible potential within me, and I accept what that will require of me. Whatever it costs me, whatever I must sacrifice to follow this path, bring it on. I'm ready. Even though you will still experience fear, you will recognize it for the illusion it is, and you will know how to use your human courage to face it down, such that fear will no longer have the power to stop you.

你该用自身新拓展的勇气做什么?它将使你前往何处?答案是,它将引领你进入更加让人满足和富于意义的生活。你将作为一个勇敢无畏的人,而非一只胆怯畏缩的老鼠,真正开始生活。你将释放和拓展自身最伟大的天赋。你将开始比自己曾经做到的,更清醒自主和从容沉着地生活。不再对生活中发生的事情被动反应,你将积极主动地创造自己热爱的各种活动。

勇气是你只能独自一人经历的体验。它是种个人胜利,而非公众所有。召唤勇气,倾听个人内心最深处的渴望,绝非一种群体活动。也非跟随他人一致行动就能获得的结果。卡里·纪伯伦在《先知》中写道:“独到的洞察力是私人之羽翼,无法外借。”你存在于世的意义价值只有你自己才能发现。这个世界上没人有过和你完全一样的生活体验,也没人会有跟你完全一样的思维想法。

另一方面,这是种颇为孤独的领悟。无论你是单独生活,还是与相爱伴侣享受着最深层的亲密感,在内心深处,你都必须依然面对一个现实,就是你的生活只能独自体验。你可以选择暂时将个人生活的控制权交给其他事物,不管是一家公司、一位配偶,还是每日生活的各种压力来源,但你永远无法摆脱对最终结果应负的个人责任。无论你对生活采取直接清醒的控制,还是仅对发生在身上的事情被动反应,你,也只有你自己,必须承受所有选择的最后结果。

假如你承诺追随充满勇气的道路,将最终被迫面对也许是人生最大的恐惧 — 那就是你远比自己最初意识到的更强大和能干,你的终极潜能远比你以往经历过的任何事物都更加伟大,而在这份力量面前,巨大的责任也随之而来。你可能无法解决这个星球的所有苦痛,但若你承诺100%全力实现个人真正潜能,你就可以显著影响许多人的生命,而且这份影响会通过涟漪作用传递给未来的世世代代。

与那些拥有这种影响力的传奇历史人物相比,你和他们之间的差别是什么?你们都有众多同样的恐惧。你们都天生在某些领域具备才赋,而在另一些领域拥有弱点。唯一阻止你伟大的东西就是恐惧,而唯一能让你超越平庸的,便是勇气。你在生命中该做什么,并不取决于你的父母、老板或配偶。这种选择取决于你,也只能是你。

看出自身的伟大一面,也许是你能想象到的,最令人心神不安的体验之一。而更让人难以平静的,是你意识到,如果接受这种伟大本质,就将面对在前路等待自己的各种巨大挑战。清醒自主地生活绝非一条轻松道路,但它是种独一无二的人生体验。它要求你做出承诺性决定,永久舍弃内在的鼠辈心态,勇敢追求个人最伟大和雄心勃勃的梦想,经历种种挫败和失望体验,奋力抗争自身最感羞辱的人类局限,而非靠着已经发挥的一点潜能舒服生活 — 这些恐惧我们所有人都共同拥有。

头几次碰上这些恐惧时,你可能会像只老鼠那样,很快缩回自己虚构的安全生活里。但只要你持续锻炼个人勇气,终将成熟到能作为一个完全清醒自主的人类,开放接受生活的各种挑战和责任。你对继续像只老鼠一样生活不再有更多兴趣。你会在个人存在的最幽深之处,承认自己生命的意义。我已领悟到体内这令人难以置信的潜能,而且我接受它对我的种种要求。不管实现它要付出什么代价,无论追随这条道路必须牺牲什么,全都放马过来,我已做好准备。即使自己仍会经历恐惧,你将识别出恐惧的虚幻,而且你知道如何利用人类自身勇气去直面它,使恐惧不再有任何力量能阻挡你。

Embrace the Daring Adventure
拥抱勇敢无畏的冒险历程

Before you embark on any path ask the question, does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it and then you must choose another path. The trouble is that nobody asks the question. And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart the path is ready to kill him.
在你投入任何道路前,先问此问题:这条道路是我内心所向吗?倘若答案是不,你会心知肚明,之后你必须重选另一条道路。不幸的是没人问此问题。以致当一个人最终意识到走进一条毫无心灵追求的道路时,这条道路已做好杀死他的准备。

— Carlos Castaneda(卡洛斯·卡斯塔尼达,秘鲁裔美国作家)

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
镌刻在你们身上的忧伤愈深,你们能盛装的欢乐愈多。斟满了美酒的杯盏,难道不是曾在陶工炉火中锻造的杯盏吗?抚平了心弦的诗琴,难道不是曾在木匠利刃下雕琢的木材吗?

— Kahlil Gibran(卡里·纪伯伦)
(中文翻译源自林志豪的《先知》译本。译者注)

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
懒散会滋生怀疑与恐惧。行动则能带来信心和勇气。如果你想征服恐惧,不要呆在家中左思右想。直接走出门去忙碌起来。

- Dale Carnegie(戴尔·卡耐基,美国现代成人教育之父)

As you develop a sense of your true purpose in life, you may begin to feel an uneasy disconnect between your current life situation and the one you envision moving towards. These two worlds may seem so different to you that you cannot mentally conceive of how to build a bridge between them. How can you balance the practical reality of taking care of your third-dimensional obligations like earning money to pay your bills and taxes, pleasing your boss, raising your family, and maintaining social relationships with people who can't even relate to what you're experiencing vs. the new vision of yourself you desperately want to move towards? A whole host of new fears may crop up related to this seemingly impossible shift. How will you support yourself? What will become of your relationships? Are you just deluding yourself?

The best advice I can give you here is to forget about trying to build a bridge. Focus instead on independently beginning the process of manifesting the new vision of yourself from scratch, as if it were a totally separate thread in your life. If this creates a temporary incongruence in your life, just do it anyway. For example, suppose you currently work as a divorce attorney, but your courage tells you that you must eventually abandon such adversarial work. You envision yourself passionately teaching couples how to heal their broken relationships. But you can't even fathom yourself as a trial lawyer trying to speak about healthy relationships, and on top of that problem, you can't see any way to make a decent living in this new career, at least not quickly. There's just too big a disconnect between this new vision and practical reality. So instead of trying to bridge this gap, just begin building your new vision completely from scratch in whatever time you have, even if it's only an hour or two each week. Keep doing your regular work as an attorney, but in your spare time, start posting anonymously on relationship message boards to give couples advice on how to heal their relationships. Use the oratory skills you developed as an attorney to begin speaking to small groups about healing relationships. Perhaps create a new web site, and start writing and posting articles about your new passion. You don't have to hide the fact that you're an attorney, but don't worry about bridging these two worlds. Live in paradox. Just start developing the new you, and allow the old one to continue in parallel for a while.

What will happen is that you'll develop skill in your new undertaking, and you'll eventually be able to support yourself from it, even if you can't see how to do so right away. You may not be able to see a way to support yourself in your new vision right now, and that's fine. Just begin it anyway, doing it for free, without any concern of how to turn it into a new full-time career. Patiently wait for clarity; you will eventually find a way to make it work. Then when the time is right, you'll be able to peacefully let go of the old career and focus all your energy on the new one. At some point you'll be able to commit fully to your new self. Your passion for your new work will eventually overwhelm your fear of letting go of your old source of stability. So instead of trying to transform your old career into your new one, just start the process of building your new one, and let your old one gradually fade. Even if you can only invest an hour a week in your new undertaking, you will probably discover that this hour is more fulfilling to you than all the other hours put together, and that passion will drive you to find a way to gradually grow this presence until it fills up most of your days. The most important thing is to begin now by introducing your new vision of yourself to your daily life, even if you can only initially do so in a small way.

No matter how difficult it may seem, make the choice to live consciously. Do not succumb to that half-conscious realm of fear-based thinking, filling your life with distractions to avoid facing what you feel in those silent spaces between your thoughts. Either exercise your human endowment of courage and progressively build the strength to face your deepest, darkest fears to live as the powerful being you truly are, or admit that your fears are too much for you, and embrace life as a mouse. But make this choice consciously and with full awareness of its consequences. If you are going to allow fear to win the battle for your life, then proclaim it the victor and forfeit the match. If you simply avoid living consciously and courageously, then that is equivalent to giving up on life itself, where your continued existence becomes little more than a waiting period before physical death - the nothing as opposed to the daring adventure.

Don't die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be. You may go broke. You may experience failure and rejection repeatedly. You may endure multiple dysfunctional relationships. But these are all milestones along the path of a life lived courageously. They are your private victories, carving a deeper space within you to be filled with an abundance of joy, happiness, and fulfillment. So go ahead and feel the fear - then summon the courage to follow your dreams anyway. That is strength undefeatable.

当你去拓展发掘个人生命的真正意义和目的,就可能开始在当前生活情形,与自己展望的人生前景间,产生一种令人不安的断连感。这两个世界也许看起来如此不同,以致于你无法从思维上想象怎样在两者间架起联系桥梁。当面对现实世界的责任义务,比如赚钱付清账单和税款,取悦上司老板,赡养家庭,跟那些甚至无法理解你生活经历的人维持社交关系,再想到自己迫切渴望走向的全新愿景,你该如何处理好两者间的平衡?这种看起来难以实现的转变,就可能突然制造大量新生恐惧。你将如何支持个人生活?你的感情关系又会发生什么改变?你是否在哄骗自己相信那个愿景?

我能在此给出的最好建议,就是忘掉试图架设联系桥梁的想法。直接专注于独立自主地,从零开始实现个人新愿景的过程。就像它是你生活里完全隔离的一条发展路线一样。假如这种做法会在生活中制造出暂时的不和谐一致感,也别在意,请依然继续干下去。例如,设想你当前工作是名离婚律师,但内心勇气告诉你终该舍弃这种对抗性工作。你展望自己会充满激情地教授夫妻如何治愈他们受损的感情关系。但你甚至还无法想象自己身为一名法庭辩护律师,去试图谈论健康感情关系。而且除此问题之外,你也看不出在新职业道路上,能获得体面生活水平的任何工作方式,至少短期内无法如此。这份新愿景与现实生活间存在巨大断连。因此,与试图在鸿沟上架设桥梁的做法不同,你直接从零开始创建这份新愿景。无论自己何时有空,就算每周只在上面工作一两个小时也行。继续作为律师完成个人日常工作,但在空闲时段,你可以匿名在感情关系论坛上发言,为各对夫妻如何治愈感情关系提供建议。利用你身为律师发展而出的雄辩技巧,开始向小型团体演说有关治愈感情关系的内容。或许你还可创建一个新网站,针对自己新的激情事业,开始写作和发布文章。你不必隐藏自己是名律师的事实,但也无需担心要将这两个世界连接起来。你可以生活在矛盾之中。只管开始发展全新的自我,同时允许旧的自己继续并存一段时间。

随后将要发生的,就是你会在新事业上拓展出技能,并终能靠它支持个人生活,即使你当前还无法立刻看出如何将其实现。你也许不能马上看出在新愿景下支持个人生活的方式,这不是什么问题。只管开始去做,免费也干,不必顾虑如何将其转变为一份新的全职工作。耐心等待清晰感的最终出现;你终将找到一条管用的路线。然后当时机恰当,你便可平静地对旧职业放手,将全部精力专注于新事业。在某一时刻,你将能对崭新的自我许下全面承诺。你对新工作的激情,将最终盖过放弃稳定生活旧有来源的恐惧。所以,与试图将旧职业转变成新职业相反,只用开始创建你新职业的进程,然后让旧职业逐渐消退。即使你在新事业上每周只能投入一小时,你也很可能发现这一小时要比其他所有时间加起来更令人心满意足。而且这份激情将驱动你找到一条逐渐扩大新现实的道路,直至让它填满你大部分生活。最重要的事情,便是现在就开始将全新版本的自我带进每日生活,即便自己最初只能以微小方式从事这份事业。

不管它看起来有多难,请做出清醒生活的选择。不要屈服那基于恐惧思维的半清醒世界,用各种分神事物填充个人生活,以回避面对在各种思绪之间的安静空隙里,自己感受到的内心恐惧。假如不锻炼身为人类一员的勇气天分,逐步建立个人力量来面对自我最深层、最黑暗的恐惧,像个真正强大的个体那样生活,你就会承认恐惧远远压倒了自己,最后像只老鼠那样拥抱生活。请清醒自主地做出选择,并全然意识到这种选择将有的结果。如果你允许恐惧赢得自己的生命之战,那就直接宣告它的胜利,放弃这场竞赛。若你想要避免清醒自主与充满勇气地生活,那就等同于放弃生活本身,你今后延续的存在也不过是身体死亡前,等待结束的一段时期 — 与勇敢冒险之旅相反的空无一物。

别在还未拥抱你生命真正意义的勇敢冒险前,就黯然逝去。你可能会破产。你可能反复经历失败和拒绝。你可能忍受多次难堪的感情关系。但这些全都是勇敢生活征途上的里程碑。它们是你个人的胜利,是在你内心一次次刻下,再由丰盈喜悦,还有幸福与满足感来填平的深痕。所以直接上前感受那些恐惧吧 — 召唤你的勇气,无论如何都追随自己的梦想。那就是人生的不败之力。