“In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’” ~ Brené Brown
The word ‘courage’ has its roots in Middle French, ‘couer’, and Latin, ‘cor’; both mean ‘heart’. In Middle English, it was used broadly for ‘what is in one’s mind or thoughts’.
It takes courage to be true to yourself, to let your guard down and stop wearing a mask, to show the world the real ‘you’. It takes courage to believe in yourself, to trust your instincts, your inner knowing.
When we’re embroiled in upsetting or challenging situations, we tend to ask others for advice. That’s fine because it helps you view your situation from a different angle; however, it can also leave you confused. That’s because nobody else can know what the situation is like for you because they haven’t walked in your shoes. All they can know is how they would react in a similar situation based on their beliefs. No one has the answers you need; not your nearest and dearest and definitely not all the gurus/self-help experts out there. The only one with the answers to your situation is you. You have to trust that the answers you need are in you. To access those answers, you have to gain mental clarity, and the best way to do that is to meditate; start learning how here.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them” ~ Mother Theresa
One way to remain true to yourself is to come from a place of love. When someone is being hurtful, it’s a natural reaction to want to hurt back. But, instead of lashing out, take a few deep breaths. This gives you a chance to think first before you do or say something that’s just as hurtful; it’s a chance to stop the hurt. Just as no one knows what you’re going through because they haven’t walked in your shoes, neither do you know what the other person is going through. Maybe they’re being hurtful because they are hurting. None of us knows why people do what they do; we don’t know what’s going on in their lives or what’s going on inside them. Not lashing out doesn’t mean that you’re condoning what they’re saying/doing. It means that you’re using love to negate the hurt.
Coming from and staying in a place of love is not about burying your head in the sand. It’s not about ignoring the ‘bad’ in your life or the world. It’s about accepting that there is and always will be contrast in the world. It’s what is required to help us grow and evolve, very much like how a pearl is made.
Let your guard down; don’t stop yourself getting angry or upset, or feeling any negative emotion. Embrace all your emotions, especially those that dwell in your shadow side. ‘Contrast’ is what we’re here to experience; it’s part of the human experience. That means accepting even those emotions that you don’t like, the ones you’re not particularly proud of. They’re all a part of you; they’re what make you, you. So, get angry, get upset. Acknowledge those emotions, embrace them, but do not dwell on them and do not let them take over. Totally feel the emotion, then let it go.
“The only thing you can control is how you show up in life and how you respond to other people. Change your decisions, change your life” ~ Meredith Miller
Have the courage to take 100% responsibility for your own life, your own actions. Don’t play the blame game and blame others when things go wrong for you, even though that’s the easy option. When you blame others, you’re putting yourself in the role of victim. To take total responsibility for your life, accept whatever it is that’s happened, and ask yourself what you’re going to do about it. Because, at the end of the day, you cannot control other people’s thoughts and behaviour; you can only control your own.
I had a terrible habit of dwelling on ‘what ifs’; to be honest, I still fall into that hole sometimes, but I’m able to get myself out much quicker. All ‘what ifs’ do is keep you stuck in the past, swirling in self-doubt and second-guessing yourself. Have the courage to embrace life and live in the ‘now’. To help change that mindset, find something to believe in; it doesn’t have to be anything overtly religious if that doesn’t appeal to you. How about believing in the certainties around you provided by nature – the sun always rising in the morning; the ebb and flow of the tides; daffodils in spring, and lambs… If you have children, the sound of their laughter? What about the unconditional love of your pet? When doubts start to creep in, redirect your mind to the thing you’ve chosen to believe in. To begin with, you’ll need to do the redirection frequently and be conscious of doing it. But, as with all things, it gets easier with practice.
These steps may not be the biggest things in the world, but they are the beginning of something. The words you choose, the actions you take, they’re like a little seed that grows to become a huge tree – your courage.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest” ~ Maya Angelou
I’m going to be taking a break from these ‘Joyous Life’ posts during August, and I’ll be back in September. But I’ll still be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays.