The Quiet Wisdom of Courage

Post by Kate Swoboda.


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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

– Marianne Williamson

Many of us don’t fully acknowledge what we’re capable of. We can be more interested in ownership of things than ownership of our self-worth. We pursue climbing the rungs of a career that we have no real heartfelt interest in with more vigor than we pursue our highest vision. We listen to love songs, but not to the voice that, during an argument, tells us to speak respectfully to our loved ones.

Collectively, lots of these little choices add up, becoming a lifestyle–of going through the motions, of reacting to life, and of operating in a default-mode of “reacting” more than living. When that builds up to a fever pitch, that’s usually the point when we start a new “self-improvement” project, saying to ourselves, “Starting tomorrow, I’m going to do it better. I’m going to make a change. Things are going to be different.” The to-do lists get longer. The pressure to do it right increases.

We think we fear that we’re inadequate and will never figure it out.

That’s not what we are really afraid of, of course. Marianne Williamson (and Nelson Mandela, quoting her) got it right: we fear our light. We fear the full-on vulnerability of stepping forward fully and risking that the crowd will shout back: “Just who the hell do you think you are?”

I’d like to propose a change in lifestyle that can be a radical reorientation to “living in default” mode: Live 100% fully alive.

Living 100% fully alive isn’t what you think. It’s dreaming big—yet not. It’s stepping into you’re joy—yet also making room for the spaces that are painful. Living 100% fully alive makes space for all of it.

First, it would involve consciously practicing courage, which I define as: feeling afraid (no one gets out of that part); diving in anyway (what would you do otherwise–stay stuck?); transforming (because that’s always what happens when we meet our personal edge).

This is an actual lifestyle that you can adopt, a mantra that you can have and hold as your own: Courage is feeling that fear. Diving into the change, anyway. Transforming.

Pro-active step: Ask yourself right now what you fear, and identify clearly the ways in which you resist owning the truth that you feel that fear.

Second, living 100% fully alive involves a concept that I call BEing your journey. Instead of seeing yourself as a being “on” a journey (which creates the possibility to criticize yourself for getting “off track”), it’s possible to just BE our journey–to meet life changes with a commitment to BEing where we are at, accepting all that comes into the circle of our existence (including the fear).

This is where you remove the pressures of perfectionism, of “doing it right, or else.”

BE with whatever is arising for you, instead of trying to crush it, subdue it, numb out to it, or barrel past it.

BE with that fear.
BE with that joy.
BE with that courage.
BE with that pain.

The energy it takes to BE with whatever comes up takes far less effort than the energy it takes to resist it.

There’s a lot of talk in the personal growth sector about being “authentic.” What better way to be “authentic” than to truly embrace and own all of our feelings, without an expectation that we need to do anything more?

Pro-active step: What’s one thing that you currently have a lot of trouble “being” with? It could be a person, a set of circumstances, a situation, or an illness. Identify what it is, and then get curious about this possibility: what shifts, what is different, if you are willing to be with it?

Finally, create the conditions for cultivating joy that can thrive and flourish. Yes, I’m aware that joy is what we all are—under the layers of neurosis, self-sabotage, conditioning that lingers from the past, and more.

At our essence, we are pure joy, but the baggage is often too thick for us to feel consciously connected to it.

Joy is not something that “happens to” you. Far too many people assume that joy will “happen to” them if they get somewhere “over there” where the joy is. I speak from personal experience when I share how humbling it can be to learn that you can rack up the accomplishments, hit the financial goals, get the invitations to hang out with that glowy tribe online, and still feel…a nagging sense that when it comes to joy, this ain’t it.

Pro-active step: Instead of seeking joy, do some free-writing right now on this question: What conditions allow joy to flourish in my life? This is where we get into what is more uniquely you. Joy might flourish for you if you’re getting enough time outdoors, more coffee dates with friends, and take time to organize your desk once a day, creating a sense of more inner ease. For me, joy might look like getting plenty of time nestled in with a quiet book at home, and the internal permission not to care what my desk looks like.

Courage is the quiet wisdom of trusting that there is some gift in acceptance and surrender that’s greater than clenching and control. When you’re living 100% fully alive, there’s an expansiveness as you make more room for all of life.

We can step out of living a lifestyle that’s about default reactions, and step into consciously living 100% fully alive.

How will you choose to live, today?

Kate Courageous is a life coach, writer and speaker who teaches people why “integrity is sexy” and how the practice of courage is revolutionary. Her approach is a sexy-soulful combination of intuitive spirituality with brass-tacks, pragmatic wisdom. She defines courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming.

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