Shield of Courage

Shield of Courage

This week’s focus skill is using our Shield of Courage. The shield is made up of positive beliefs that can be used as self-talk. During times of stress, we may feel a loss of control and therefore react with a fight/flight/freeze response by engaging in aggression (verbally or physically), running from difficulties, or getting “stuck”.  The shield is used to remind us of our unconditional qualities that do not change based on circumstances and they don’t go away because of mistakes or inappropriate choices. Our shield provides us with protection from stressful situations (changes, difficult work, unwanted chores, negative statements from others, limits, etc.). The shield is used to help us stay focused on the present, our “job” at the moment, and help us be our best. The shield includes the affirmations:


I am important!

I am courageous!

I am strong!

I can do hard things!


Suggestions for using this skill:


  • Review and practice belief statements/affirmations and create a shield for home, feel free to add new belief statements of your own creation. Remember, we all have these skills and by having them written down for you to see everyday it helps us to focus on our strengths.
  • Use positive beliefs/statements especially during difficult times.
  • You can also get your family involved and create a family shield or family belief statements/affirmations. Use statements such as we are safe and healthy, we can get through difficult times, problems are opportunities to learn and grow, problems can make us stronger, etc.
  • The middle of the shield has four parts. Each part represents basic needs for all human beings (a sense of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity). Every person will try to meet these needs in their lives; some people will use healthy ways and others will use unhealthy ways. As Youth Workers, we constantly remind ourselves of these four basic needs and we view behaviour as an attempt to meet each need. Use this strategy yourself. For example, think of the situation where you have felt left out of your friend group, so you go online and say something hurtful or vaguely pointing a finger at your friends for hurting you. This is because your need for belonging hasn’t been met. If we can recognize our broken need before we react we could change the outcome. Instead you could try reaching out to another friend or explaining to your group that you are not feeling included.


Note: Circle of Courage is from Brendtro, L.K., Brokenleg, M., and Van Brockern, S. (2002). Reclaiming Youth At Risk: Our Hope for the Future. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


Information for this post is from Starr Commonwealth program Courageous Children: Daily Skills to Build Resilience.


If you would like further information or would like to connect with Highlands Youth Services, please click the contact us section of our website.