Courage: From Bruce Wayne to John Wayne


What do you think of when you think of courage? I used to think about the main characters in my favorite stories as a kid; Jackie Robinson, Doc Holliday (the Val Kilmer version) and Batman.

To 7-year old me, these guys seemed absolutely fearless, and that’s what courage meant to me. The absence of fear.

However, as I’ve grown, my understanding has started to evolve. Today, when I think of courage, I think of another role model from my childhood; John Wayne.

He famously said that courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s being “scared to death, and saddling up anyway.”

I have lost count of how many times this quote has come up in marriage counseling. Vulnerability with our spouse can sometimes be downright terrifying. In those moments, maybe the goal isn’t necessarily to remove all fear. Maybe the goal is to be scared to death, but saddle up and take a step toward relationship anyway.

Intimacy and vulnerability also require healthy boundaries and trust. If you question your safety in a relationship, I’d strongly recommend calling a trusted therapist to help you navigate this terrain.

Written By: Eric McClerren, LAPC