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Bravery vs courage vs confidence

Over the past weeks I’ve been talking about characters strengths, taking a character survey (*), reading books, listening to podcasts and participating in an online course around bravery, courage and confidence. And I started to wonder even more about those words – bravery, courage and confidence.

How do I see them? What do they mean to me? What do they have in common, what not? Can you have the one without the other?

To be honest, I struggled a bit with those words. But let me explain to you why.
When somebody says to me “I think you are brave” I will agree to that to a certain extend. The word bravery is something I can take on. However, I stumble when I’m being told “you show a lot of courage.” I don’t feel that courageous, even though I know that I (had to) do things that require courage. And when others talk about me showing up with confidence then I struggle. Yes feeling confident, that isn’t a strength of mine, yet.

But, is it just me that those three words trigger such a different reaction from the inside?

It’s interesting that they all cause such very different feelings in me. Yet, when I turned to the dictionary the lines got a bit blurry.

Bravery as per dictionary is defined as the admirable quality of being able to confront frightening things. (vocabulary.com). It’s the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. The quality or state of being brave. (www.merriam-webster.com). And courage is listed as a synonym for bravery.

When I looked up courage in both dictionaries, it’s defined as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty (www.merriam-webster.com). It’s a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear (vocabulary.com). However, bravery isn’t listed as a synonym like courage is in the bravery description.

It seems to be a pretty fine line that differentiates bravery and courage, no?

To me, the keywords seem to be “being able to confront” and “having or showing mental or moral strength to face...” in bravery vs “mental or moral strength to withstand …” and to “to face danger or pain without showing fear”.

Thinking about those two words I kept wondering about confident. Shouldn’t you feel confident if you show bravery and/or courage?

So, looking up the definition of Confidence led me to the following description:
It’s a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances. The faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way and the quality or state of being certain (merriam webster dictionary). Whereas Vocabulary.com defines confidence as freedom from doubt and the belief in yourself and your abilities.

And not to bore you but, let’s quickly go one step deeper into the history of the words. There is something in there too!

  • Confidence comes from the Latin confidentia, from confidere ‘have full trust’
  • Brave means “bold, brave” coming from the Italian word bravo.
  • Courage comes from the French word cœur which means heart.

Therefore, to me, bravery makes us (re)act on something. It comes kind of natural. We ‘simply’ do it without really thinking about it. Some demonstrate it more dominant, are louder than others. Some show it in a quieter, in a subtler, way.

Whereas courage comes out of an extra desire or the need to act, to do something even if/when we’re scared, worried, anxious. It’s a conscious decision, takes a bit more effort. Again, this can be in a louder, easy noticeable or softer way.

Confidence is the trickier one as it doesn’t really depend on the outer situation. We have to trust in ourselves. It comes purely from within. It’s a mental strength.

Looking back and reflecting on situations in the past and what I wrote about here, I know that I showed and felt bravery. And I had the courage to do certain things. But, I didn’t feel enough of the confidence. But by embracing the bravery I can build on my courage and even more so on the confidence. After all, it’s being said that confidence is like a mental muscle that can be trained. So, as I go forward, I will not only train my physical muscles but that confidence muscle of mine, too.

But you know what however we name it – Bravery, Courage, Confidence – we all have them in us!

Each one of us in our own unique way!

Yes, there is a lot of strength that lies in the quiet way of bravery, courage and confidence!

This isn’t about

  • what others say.
  • who stands out the most.
  • who makes the most noise.

It’s about

  • how you feel it.
  • how you show up.
  • how you live it.
  • how you embrace it.

But how about you, do you see yourself reacting differently when you hear the words bravery and courage? Do you see yourself as a natural confident person or did you find ways to train your confidence muscle?

Stay well,

and find your ease, wherever you are,

AK

If you got curious there is a free Character survey under https://www.viacharacter.org

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