How often do we talk about courage without really taking the time to understand what real courage is? Or even how to recognize it in ourselves? Courage, I think, is more often found in the smallest tings and not grandiose gestures or words. And when we are talking about improving ourselves a great deal of courage is involved.
It's hard to look inside and admit to yourself what your failings are without being mean about it. I'm far kinder to myself now than I used to be. Had I tried to to attempt this journey even a few years ago I wouldn't have had the courage to look at myself honestly and admit where I had failed myself - and be okay with it. Even now, it's hard to do that, but possible. And this is true courage - to do this and not end up hating myself.
I'm still poking in the dark corners of my mind and soul, picking apart my actions and trying to decide if what I did was what I should have done. Was I being true to the me I want to be? It's a hard question to ask. It would be so easy to become a quivering ball of tears and regrets when you start looking that hard at yourself and asking the hard questions. As Nietzsche wrote "And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."
Self-improvement really does take a great amount of courage. I don't think any one ever told me that when I started, but it's true. Honesty takes great courage sometimes and it doesn't always come easy.
Of course, courage may be hard at first, but once you've found it the first, it'll be easier the next time. Eventually it won't seem like you're being all that brave because it's something you've gotten good at doing. Just remember, it's a gentle courage. Be kind to yourself because self-improvement isn't accomplished through insults and hate.