CourageBy Dr. Margaret Paul
May 18, 2015
Do you have the courage to do the things you are afraid of, or do you allow fear to stop you?
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." ~Nelson Mandela
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." ~Muhammad Ali
"Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts." ~ George F. Tilton
The word 'courage' always makes me think of the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. I love that he does whatever he needs to do to free Dorothy. His love for her is so strong that it overcomes his fear, and in taking brave actions on her behalf, he finds his courage.
Many years ago I worked with a man who been in the armed service as a parachute jumper. As part of his job, he would courageously jump into enemy territory. Yet, when it came to feeling his feelings, he had no courage at all. He was so terrified of his feelings that he lived his life numbed out, which made it impossible for his wife to connect with him. He was working with me because his wife had said she would divorce him unless he opened his heart to her. But, since love and pain are in the same place in the heart, to open to his love for her, he also had to open to his pain, and he was very scared to do that. He said early in our work together that he would rather risk his life in enemy territory than risk getting emotionally hurt. It took great courage for him to open to the deep pain that had been buried in him since he was a child.
Look inside and see what you have not had the courage to do:
- Do you hold back following your passion out of fear of failure?
- Are you relationship avoidant out of fear of engulfment – of feeling trapped?
- Do you keep yourself isolated for fear of rejection?
- Do you resist learning to love yourself out of fear you can't do it?
- Do you procrastinate out of fear of being controlled?
- Do you avoid trying new things for fear of making a fool of yourself?
- Do you stay focused in your head rather than in your body, or numb out with addictions out of fear of getting hurt?
- Do you stay stuck in a job you dislike out of fear of failure?
- Do you stay stuck in an unloving relationship out of the fear of being alone?
- Do you avoid personal growth out of fear of finding out something about yourself that you don't like?
- Do you avoid opening to a spiritual source of love and guidance for fear of finding out that nothing is there, or that nothing is there for you?
- Do you avoid speaking up for fear of being wrong and being rejected?
- Do you keep yourself limited for fear of making mistakes?
- Other ______________________________________________________
There is no doubt that it takes courage to risk making mistakes, or failing, or getting hurt, or losing yourself. It takes huge courage to risk opening your heart and loving. One of my favorite quotes is this one by C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
It doesn't take courage to do the easy stuff – the stuff that doesn't scare us. It takes courage to do what it is what we are afraid of, and that's what brings joy to life.
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Ask yourself with each choice you make today, "Would I want this announced in the newspapers?" Staying in integrity means thinking and behaving in ways you are proud of. Be vigilant about your integrity - it will move you into the light.
By Dr. Margaret Paul