Take Courage, My Love …

To live the life we long for in our heart, we must have courage to triumph over the fear that’s been holding us back to this point. Obviously, this is much easier to say than to do … but even so, it’s key to developing the inner peace and sense of contentment that so many of us long for.

In pursuit of constructing our best life, there are a number of personal virtues that would typically factor in. We could consider them to be ‘cardinal’ … not necessarily in the religious sense, but rather in the literal sense – the word cardinal comes from the Latin for ‘hinge’ and in this context, it simply means that other things stem from it. So if we look, then, at what are considered cardinal virtues, we would typically include things like prudence, restraint, justice, courage, faith, hope, and love.

Of all these human virtues, the one that is usually lacking is courage. And yet, it could be considered the most critically important, in that it seems to underpin all the rest – you can’t have love without courage; we need courage to find hope and faith; to pursue justice certainly requires courage; exercising prudence and restraint both take courage … so of all these virtues, courage could apparently be considered the key ingredient, essential to unlocking our happiness.

Well, let’s consider courage, then, and what it means. Courage is not the same as being fearless … rather, it means continuing in spite of our fear. Courage does not allow comfort and security to become a crutch, but requires us to persevere despite fear, pain, past failures, loss, loneliness or uncertainty. We need courage when facing moral dilemmas; and when we make mistakes or misjudgements, we need courage to forgive ourselves … and others.

We need courage to make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of rejection, such as when we offer help to another. How often have we come upon an opportunity to do something good for someone, but lacked the courage to overcome our uncertainty or awkwardness in approaching them, and so we let the moment pass. We allowed ourselves to be convinced that to step forward might incur rejection, and this fear persuaded us to turn away. Our gesture might have changed that person’s entire day – or even their life. But our fear of their reaction interfered, and the moment was lost.

How would your conscience react to knowing you lacked the courage to act on your compassion and instead let fear rule the moment? Would it nag you and chastise you? Would you regret your cowardice, knowing you allowed fear to prevent you from doing the ‘right thing’? Compare that to how exhilarating it feels when we ignore our fear and do something courageous anyway – when we know we did the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Consider the joy this puts in our heart, and the upbeat mood we create.

They say that inside every person there are two spirits – one is a coward, one is a hero … and the one that rules you is the one you feed. Which one do you nurture? Having courage is about living life with a good heart, embracing the next right thing as a natural reaction rather than a pondered decision. It means being willing to step outside your comfort zone and sacrifice your confidence momentarily to at least offer to do that right thing. The world may reject your offer, but your heart will know you at least tried … for we don’t simply have courage – rather, we take courage. It’s an action, more than an attitude. And taking courage keeps us moving forward in our pursuit of the life we long for. So, what direction are you moving in?

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the Good Things in Life!


Comments

Take Courage, My Love … — 20 Comments

  1. Great post! I try my best to live with courage when if comes to other people. I will ask people if they need help, put myself out there, even embarrass myself in order to make connections with people who may just need to hear something positive. It’s me I need to work on. I need to have the courage to market myself, to believe in my abilities, to eliminate fear of failure as well as fear of success.

    Thank you for this well written post. Loved it.
    Missy Bell
    http://www.PeaceAndHappinessProject.com
    http://www.WhereTheGhostsLive.Wordpress.com

    • Hi, Missy …

      Fear comes in many sizes and shapes and hues, doesn’t it? And, luckily, so does courage. It sounds as if you’re doing the ‘right thing’ in terms of how best to honor your journey – that is to say, forging on in spite of the fear(s). I hope you give yourself credit for that, because it isn’t always very easy to do.

      With respect to helping other people … in the city where I live, the climate is relatively mild much of the time. As a result, there are lots of people who come here knowing they can survive on the streets. They are not all living lives of desperation, but some definitely are – and it isn’t always easy to distinguish between genuine need and someone who’s simply mad at their family. Both categories of people will approach me for a hand-out, and I always struggle with saying no … but I don’t have the resources to help them all.

      Instead of continuing to feel bad, however, I did some research and collected the name and address of all the shelters in the downtown core that offered food, coffee, and/or shelter for free or very cheap … and I put this list on the back of a business card, with what I hoped was an inspirational message on the front. When I was approached for money, I instead gave them a business card … and those who were truly in need were grateful, while those who just wanted money for drugs or alcohol were verbally abusive as they tore it up and threw it into the air.

      I never take it personally, regardless. Either way, I know it’s their choice to make … and that my responsibility as a fellow human being is only to compassionately offer them what I can. After that, they have to do something to help themselves – and many do.

      Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment … I appreciate you taking the time.

      Namaste,
      /L.

  2. I often think of courage as taking that last 10%. The first 90% of the conversation is typically the easy part; or the first 90% of the thought is the easy part – with the action being the last 10% part. Taking that extra step is often what sets us apart as having courage! Thanks for your post.

    • Hi, Carrie …

      I think your estimate is probably spot on, in that the ‘thinking about it’ part is the easiest, and usually the one we spend most of our time and energy on – but the critical part is, of course, the action part. That’s where most of us get stuck … and our insecurities persuade us to abandon our good intentions. It’s a shame, really, because there is so much need for good intentions in this world …

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we could collectively raise the consciousness level of the many people around us, so that our community courage could grow and our good intentions could find it safer to peek out … and maybe we could make the world a slightly better place. It’s worth hoping for, at least.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment …

      Namaste,
      /L.

  3. Hi Lily-Ann ~ Inspiring post, a reminder or perhaps an introduction to what courage is … not the absence of fear but the strength to do, to be, and to act in spite of our fear. Again, wonderful post and thanks for having the courage to address courage!

    LMG

    • Hi, Lyndah …

      When I was much younger, I thought that courage was indeed more like being fearless … or like acting fearless, anyway. It took me quite some time – and more than a few scars – to realize that I didn’t quite have it right. So upon more introspection, I eventually reached the conclusion that true courage is a very deliberate action far removed from any kind of bravado, and that it is most pure when applied to the pursuit of justice – that is, the determination to do the right thing, even in the face of insecurity or uncertainty.

      There are times, of course, when discretion is the better part of valour … when in the interest of self-preservation, justice is simply out of reach. But such situations are rare, and more often our lack of courage comes from our inner monologue rather than an external risk. Our job is to be able to recognize the difference, and where possible, do that right thing.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and leave a comment.

      Namaste,
      /L.

  4. Hey Lily-Ann, what an inspiring blog post.
    This line really stood out to me: “We need courage to make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of rejection, such as when we offer help to another.”
    I teach women how to market and sell their coaching programs, and the fear of rejection is what stops them in their tracks. But before they even get there, I try to help them become more courageous and confident in themselves and their offerings so that fear that comes with rejections is lessened or non-existent, and they can continue trying to help the people they’re reaching out to.

    I’ve also started a charity project called A Girl’s Heart http://www.facebook.com/AGirlsHeartOfficial, and I would LOVE you to write a guest blog post for the website (coming in 2 weeks) – the aim is to encourage young girls to become confident in themselves, and in the future we will be fundraising to raise money to send girls in Sierra Leone to school. Let me know if you’re up for that and we’ll sort out details xx

    • Hello, Phillipa …

      Welcome to my blog – I’m pleased that this article resonated with you. Like you, I believe that courage is such a powerful human emotion that it either rules or influences just about every other emotion known to mankind … and that lacking courage is such a painful place to be – particularly if a negative experience is what has robbed us of it. From the emotional baggage that ultimately attaches to such an experience, this lack of courage eventually morphs into a debilitating fear – and I’ve always remembered that “Fear has destroyed more dreams that failure EVER could!”

      I would be honoured to participate in your charity project, and invite you to contact me at your convenience to discuss ways I can contribute.

      Namaste,
      /L.

      • Hey Lily-Ann!
        So sorry, I just saw your reply to me now.
        I will friend you on Facebook and send you a PM.

        The website is taking a little longer atm because I’ve decided that I want to hire someone else to do it.

        • Hi, Phillipa …

          Oh, no worries at all … I’ll watch for your Request, and then we can go from there.

          Namaste,
          /L.

  5. Lily-Ann, you are wise and poetic, and I love reading your posts…in many ways we are similar, and this post brings that home. I have just finished writing about vulnerability, which I believe goes hand-in-hand with courage. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to failure and rejection to experience the true joys, connections, and success that this beautiful life has to offer!

    This has been one of my most profound lessons on my journey.

    Thank-you!!

    Ang :-)

    • Hi, Ang …

      Thank you for those kind words – they mean a lot.

      I agree that vulnerability and courage go hand-in-hand … and that makes it a scary proposition for a lot of people. I confess that there are still situations where I have to be very stern with myself in order to muster up the courage needed in the moment, and for sure, it’s always because I feel vulnerable and uncertain. But let me quickly add that in every case, the risk was always so profoundly worth it … for the very reasons you list! And after the fact, I always wonder what it was that I was so worried about.

      Ahh, yes … life’s lessons. They continue to both amuse and amaze, don’t you think? Just when I think I’m starting to get it all figured out, I come upon yet another lesson. Reminds me that I’m still a work in progress, I guess … and that’s not such a bad thing.

      I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. I’ll have to go and read your article – it sounds compelling!

      Namaste,
      /L.

  6. Lily-Ann,

    I love your use of the word “cardinal” and it’s link with virtues. I think you can do the same with values. I also think it takes courage to know when it’s time to restrain yourself from action.

    • Hi, Fred …

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my article. Much appreciated …

      I am in complete agreement with you on considering that values can be regarded as cardinal … heavens, yes. And I would also nominate integrity for membership in that group.

      You’re spot on when you say it takes courage to also know when it’s time to restrain yourself from action. Discretion being the better part of valour, it’s a brave heart that can remove itself from the instinct to lash out. I’m still trying to perfect that particular application of courage, but I guess recognition is the first step … all I can do is try, and hope that discretion doesn’t fail me! :-)

      I hope you drop by again … I try to post before the end of each weekend, more or less. Sometimes I’m a bit late, sometimes a bit early – this week, I’m a bit late, having just posted my new article a few moments ago.

      Namaste,
      /L.

  7. Lily-Ann,
    I agree with many sentiments expressed by you and the readers of your blog. I think that fear of rejection and vulnerability could be diminished greatly with compassion for self and others. Compassion, from Latin, literally means “co-suffering” and “commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering” (Wikipedia). In other words, if you notice the suffering and feel moved by it, you also feel moved to help the sufferer in some way (you remove fear and take courage ).
    Cheers.
    Renata (http://www.lifemoodscoaching.com)

    • Hi, Renata …

      Indeed, compassion is another virtue that is in short supply throughout much of the world. More compassion for self and others would definitely improve things all over. But, unfortunately, that will likely take courage to express, because of those very reasons of becoming vulnerable and opening oneself to rejection.

      Even so, I agree that the more compassion we can allow ourselves to feel, the more reason we will have to take courage … which, one would hope, will also compel us to take action – for courage without action does very little good for anyone.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts on this …

      Namaste,
      /L.

  8. thoughtful and encouraging words, lily-ann. i especially love this line: “for we don’t simply have courage – rather, we take courage. It’s an action, more than an attitude.” i like thinking of courage as an action because that’s exactly what we must do. we must ACT in order to GROW. challenging ourselves to broaden our self-imposed limits definitely requires acting in spite of the fear.

    • Hi, April …

      I’ve always thought of courage as an action … because if it isn’t, then what good is it? If it’s just talk, boasting, or fantasy, then it really has no value. The exception to that is if it’s a first step to taking the action required to face their challenge. Fear is a very real aggressor, and sometimes it requires us to prepare ourselves by first envisioning our courage, and then eventually, acting it out.

      Most of the time, we’re our own worst enemy … often being harder on ourselves than anyone else could ever be – because we have our inner monologue to deal with, and it can torment us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It can sabotage even our strongest and best intentions. So to stare it down, we must find an internal courage that won’t be obvious to anyone else … but which will sometimes take all we can muster to face it. I salute those courageous souls who are determined to face whatever demons are challenging them – whether its booze, drugs, sex, crime, abuse, neglect, betrayal, or some other torment. Without courage, these battles are going to be hard to win.

      I’m glad you stopped by, and I appreciate your comment …

      Namaste,
      /L.

  9. I really enjoyed this article, Lily-Ann. it contains so many inspiring truths … I particularly liked “Courage means being willing to step outside your comfort zone and sacrifice your confidence momentarily”.
    It is so easy to let fear of stepping outside your comfort zone prevent you from living your best life.

    • Hi, Laura …

      That’s how I see it, for sure … fear is such a powerful adversary, it probably has a thousand ways to defeat our best intentions. Although I’m unable to remember who to credit with this, I once heard a quote that has intensely resonated with me ever since: “Fear has destroyed more dreams than Failure ever will …” To me, this captures the essence of my point very well, because whether in business situations, relationship encounters, or even everyday social settings, being paralyzed by fear simply leaves us stuck and floundering, with our confidence disintegrating more with each passing moment. How painful …

      I appreciate you taking a moment to comment, and I hope to see you here again …

      Namaste,
      /L.

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