Courage–Take Heart

couragewayneFear can hold us back in so many ways. It’s a completely natural feeling that we’ll all experience, but as with everything, it’s what you do with your fear (or don’t do), that matters. The root of the word “courage” is “cor”—the Latin word for heart, and when we fail to grapple with our fear, this is really what happens—we end up betraying our own hearts.

If you tell yourself that you’re irrevocably broken at some root level, if you worry that you may not be good enough, or “something” enough, you set yourself up to reject love, to doubt the sanity or judgment of the people who offer it to you. If you ask yourself who you are to follow your dreams, if you tell yourself you’re better off toeing the line because you probably aren’t special enough to do anything else, you’ve let fear stop you from exploring how life would look and feel if you were living in alignment with your intuition.

The best definition of courage or bravery I’ve ever heard is, “feeling the fear, and doing it, anyway”, whatever “it” may be. It could be that you long to ask someone on a date, or you want to ask for a raise, or quit your job, or have an uncomfortable conversation with someone. There are all kinds of situations that are challenging, that might elicit fear, and the only thing worse than someone telling you you can’t do something because you don’t have the right stuff, is telling that to yourself. Self-limiting beliefs are like the bars of a prison cell you set for yourself. If you believe in them, you’ll be stuck. If you take a chance and gather yourself up, you’ll find there’s no “there” there.

Maybe you’ve been carrying around doubt for years. Perhaps you grew up hearing that you didn’t measure up, or would never amount to anything. Maybe you’ve been hurt, betrayed, abandoned or abused, emotionally, or otherwise. So many things can damage our confidence in our ability to see things through, but feeling the fear and doing it, anyway, is such a great way to rebuild that belief in yourself.

A painful conversation might seem daunting, but it’s better than living in quiet desperation, and you’ll probably find it’s the first sentence that’s the hardest. If it’s a personal situation, you might try, “I’m in pain, and I need to talk to you.” If it’s a business associate, your boss, your colleague, or anyone else who might hold some power over you (the power to keep a roof over your head, for example), practice with someone you trust, first. You might start with, “I’m glad we have the chance to talk about something that’s been on my mind for awhile.” The same goes for asking someone on a date; practice, and remember that it’s not even the outcome that matters. What matters is that you’re feeling good enough about yourself to ask for what you want.

Few things feel worse than wanting something and being unable to act on your own behalf. Usually the fear of stepping up has to do with a lack of self-esteem, and the paradox is, if you can make yourself rise to the occasion, you’ll automatically feel better about yourself. You don’t have to repress your fear, deny it or run from it. Go ahead and feel it, but then do it, anyway. You can be scared and brave at the same time, they aren’t mutually exclusive feelings. Life is too short to leave your deepest desires unmet.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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