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3 Ways Courage Impacts Our Mental Health

When I was first learning how to execute a flying side kick over an obstacle, it took quite a bit of mental gymnastics to build up the courage that ultimately helped me overcome my fear. I have seen my students experience similar fears while training and that’s my cue to have a “mat chat” on the topic of indomitable spirit.

Indomitable spirit is having the courage to face one’s fears and possessing unbreakable determination. There is nothing like overcoming our fears to build our self confidence. Here are three ways courage impacts our mental health:

  1. Destroys Anxiety: Fear is at the core of most anxiety disorders and courage may be the antidote. Exposure plus response prevention is the standard treatment for some types of anxiety in which individuals are taught to use coping skills while confronting the very situation that causes anxiety rather than retreating from the fear-inducing situation. As one might imagine, there are plenty of circumstances that incite fear while practicing Taekwondo whether it is when breaking boards, demonstrating poomsae in front of class, or executing a flying side kick over an obstacle.
  2. Builds Confidence: By repeatedly overcoming fear, it becomes easier to face that fear, and other related fears, in the future. In doing so, we build confidence and the more we build confidence the easier it is to have a “yes I can” attitude, which is advantageous both in and out of the dojang.
  3. Create Neurological connections: Interestingly, the two above mental health benefits of indomitable spirit have a neurological basis. Specifically, our brains may develop unhelpful neuropathways over time through experiences that trigger negative thoughts, increase heart rate, and create a feeling of nervousness when confronted with a stressful event. The more one engages in this unhelpful neuropathway, the stronger it gets. On the other hand, the less we engage in this unhelpful neuropathway, the weaker it gets. Moreover, if one develops a healthy response to anxiety, it establishes a healthier neuropathway. Thus, every time we overcome our fears in Taekwondo, we are in fact strengthening our healthy neuropathways and weakening our unhelpful ones.

Keep in mind that fear is a very real experience. It is important to know that with proper guidance and support and a lot of hard work, students can grow and overcome these challenges. If this post was helpful, please leave a comment below and tell us what’s your answer to our question below.

What has been your greatest fear that you have overcome in Taekwondo?

Indomitable spirit is one of the five tenets of Taekwondo taught at Taekwondo Wellness. Check out my previous posts if you’re interested in learning about how perseverancecourtesyintegrity, and self control impact mental health. Also, be on the lookout for my next blog post about indomitable spirit and how it impacts our mental health as well. If you are interested in learning more about our programming, please call 520-333-3320 or visit our dojang at Intuition Wellness Center.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist


Image by: Ayuntamiento Roquetas de Mar