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WoW 113: On the fear and courage cycle
Episode 2313th December 2023 • Words of Wisdom • Josh Kalsbeek, LMFT
00:00:00 00:08:37

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In the podcast Josh discusses the theory of fear versus courage cycles. He explains how fear is a physiological and psychological response to perceived threats, and outlines different fear-based reactions including trying to control the threat, experiencing fear and worry, or freezing in response. He then introduces the concept of the courage cycle as a more positive and productive response mechanism, which leads to personal growth and improvement. This cycle includes responses such as taking responsibility, showing fortitude, and making self-sacrifices in challenging situations.Josh prompts listeners to reflect on their own reactions to fear and encourages them to adopt more courage-based responses in their daily lives.

00:00 Introduction to Fear and Courage

00:47 Fear in Relationships: The Fear of Rejection

01:19 The Fear Cycle: Triggers and Reactions

01:50 Fear-Based Reactions: Control, Worry, and Freezing

03:59 The Courage Cycle: An Introduction

04:47 Courageous Responses: Responsibility, Fortitude, and Self-Sacrifice

06:44 The Balance of Virtues: Courage, Love, and Prudence

07:05 Inspirational Quotes and Reflections on Mental Health

07:59 Self-Reflection Questions for Personal Growth

08:24 Conclusion: Surrender Your Fears and Feed the Courage Cycle

About Josh Kalsbeek, LMFT

• As a Psychoherapist I help people overcome their greatest struggles.

•Founder and CEO of Great Oaks Collective, and it's flagship program Overcome, a 10-Week virtual Intensive Outpatient Program for Christian couples experiencing sexual betrayal and addiction. www.greatoakscollective.com

• Sign up to receive my weekly email newsletter, Words of Wisdom. ​

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Doris Kearns Goodwin, ​Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln​

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Transcripts

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Words of wisdom one 13 on the fear versus courage cycle.

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Fear is a physiological

response to a perceived threat.

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Fear is a perception.

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It's an interpretation of reality.

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We see something off in the distance in

the woods and think it's a bear, so we

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become afraid, but it might not be a bear.

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It might just be a bush.

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We feel fear when we think we see

the bear, the perceived threat.

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Fear is either about a perceived

current or future threat.

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The threat is putting us in

danger to where we feel unsafe.

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Fear is also physiological.

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It's an unconscious response at

the level of the nervous system.

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Our most fundamental

fear in a relationship

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is the fear of rejection, and this

stronghold of fear avoids being known.

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It avoids intimacy and vulnerability.

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It hides in the darkness

instead of living in the light.

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Fear is a thief.

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Fear steals.

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Fear steals your connection with God,

because when we withdraw from being known,

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when we avoid connection, we experience

deep disruption in our relationships.

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The fear cycle is our response to fear.

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We get triggered by a perceived

threat, and then we can

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have a fear-based reaction.

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I define a reaction as a

typically unconscious or

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conditioned response to a trigger.

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These fear-based reactions are

often modeled and ingrained

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into us from our childhood.

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These reactions are

often attachment wounds.

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In the blog, you'll see an

image of the fear cycle.

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The fear cycle is a trigger that

leads to a reaction that leads

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to either trying to take control.

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To fear and worry or to freezing.

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When we react to a trigger, we typically

respond in one of these three ways.

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First of all, we can try

to control the threat.

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This is using our power in an

unhealthy, manipulative way.

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We put ourselves first and put

others in a one down position.

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We take advantage.

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We lie, threaten, criticize, and rage.

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We do whatever it takes against our values

to have the power to control the threat.

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We know it's control when we are

driven by fear, not by love and

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compassion for ourselves and others.

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Secondly, we can move to fear and worry.

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This is rumination and thinking

through the worst that will happen.

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We experience failure in our

minds before we ever get there

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in reality, and that increases

the likelihood that we will fail.

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We feed a spirit of fear and doubt

and denial of our God-Given strengths,

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opportunities, and responsibilities, we

go to an all or nothing thinking or point

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out the many ways we failed in the past.

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It lacks courage and trust in God.

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Thirdly, we can freeze.

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We can flinch, cower, or become small.

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We may look away from the threat

as an unconscious way of not

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appearing threatening, of showing

where we think we belong in the

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power hierarchy at the bottom.

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We can shut down or withdraw.

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We can seek to avoid out of fear.

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We can have a trauma response

of disassociating and becoming

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disconnected from our body.

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When we have any one of these

fear-based reactions, they can feed

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further fear-based reactions, worry

leads to shutting down and avoidance,

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or perhaps that worry builds to

panic, fear, and leads to taking

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control and taking action to try to

ensure that we are never hurt again.

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The courage cycle is part of what

I call the flourishing way, which

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I'll share more about in the future.

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In summary, the flourishing way

is a movement away from the five

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strongholds towards the five virtues.

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It's a movement of courageous

transformative growth.

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When we perceive something, we may

not even be triggered because we may

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see it more clearly for what it is.

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We may respond with courage.

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Where one person living under the

stronghold of fear might perceive

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rejection at every turn, the other may

not even feel threatened by someone else.

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We can be in the same situation

and instead of reacting with

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fear, we can respond with courage.

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Let's take a look at what

I call the courage cycle.

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On my website, you can

see the courage cycle.

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It's a movement from a trigger to

a response to one of three forms of

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responding, responding with self-sacrifice

with fortitude or with responsibility.

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So we're gonna first look at

taking responsibility instead

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of withdrawing from a threat.

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We take ownership of what is ours to own.

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We choose patience and faithfulness.

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We stay connected to ourselves in the

world and step up with responsibility.

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We say yes to serving others.

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We show up.

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Sometimes taking responsibility

means setting boundaries.

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A boundary is a line we

make in order to stay safe.

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A boundary is a way to be

responsible for our own wellbeing.

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When others aren't safe,

boundaries can help.

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Secondly is fortitude.

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We face dangers and threats

with taking courageous action.

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Fortitude does not mean the absence

of any emotional disturbance.

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Fortitude means living in

alignment with our values in the

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midst of uncertainty and risk.

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We may be hurt, we may be wounded,

but we stay connected to our values

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and doing the next right thing.

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We move forward and

take meaningful action.

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The way to grow in fortitude

is by taking courageous action.

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Thirdly, self-sacrifice.

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Instead of trying to control

others, we love and serve them.

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We do for others what we wish

they would do for us, we go first

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instead of waiting for the other.

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We initiate.

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We lead the way in service and

self-sacrifice, not looking

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for anything in return.

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Too much self-sacrifice, and you live in

a victim mindset, too much responsibility

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and you don't empower others.

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You can weaponize boundaries, but that

is not coming from a place of love.

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All virtues are interconnected.

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So if you grow in courage, you want

to also grow in love and prudence.

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Otherwise you can become

foolhardy and reckless.

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Taking courageous action creates

opportunity and more opportunity

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brings more responsibility and

leads to more ways to serve others.

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Quotes, "You gain strength, courage, and

confidence by every experience in which

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you really stop to look fear in the face.

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You must do the thing you think

you cannot do by Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Mental health Contemporary

psychiatrist tells us, consists of

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the ability to adapt to the inevitable

stresses and misfortunes of life.

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It does not mean freedom from anxiety and

depression, but only the ability to cope

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with these afflictions in a healthy way.

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In outstanding feature of successful

adaptation writes George Valiant, is that

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it leaves the way open for future growth.

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Of course, Abraham Lincoln's

capacity for growth would prove

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enormous by Doris Kerns Goodwin.

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In her book team of Rivals, the

political genius of Abraham Lincoln.

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Questions, what is your typical fear

reaction when you are triggered?

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What courageous action

do you need to take?

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In what way can you take

responsibility today?

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Who can you serve simply

for the joy of it?

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What would you do today if you were brave?

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Use these questions as a journal

prompt and for prayers this week.

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End note, identify and

surrender your fears.

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Feed the courage cycle.

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It's the best way to

love and serve others.

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Live wisely, Josh.

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