Finding Courage

One Part of the Hero's Journey

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Beautiful Loch Leven
Beautiful Loch Leven

When we are searching for ways to be more courageous, finding advice is as simple as typing a query into a search engine on the internet. There are a ton of coaches and therapists providing practical knowledge surrounding harnessing our ability to tap into our courage. Much of what you might find on this search has very little mention of approaching this process in a gentle way. We find articles suggesting that we can change our thinking by manipulating our thoughts to ward off fear. Although cognitive approaches have somewhat of a proven track record, the aggressive and rather unyielding approach of manipulation seems harsh and unrelenting. We manipulate steel, chemical compounds and sometimes other people to get what we want. So, this begs the question for me, do we need to see our truest self as something that needs manipulation so that we achieve the outcome we so desire –finding courage? I don’t think so.

“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”

Maya Angelou

Some authors writing about personal development boldly proclaim that preparing for the worst possible outcome is the way to go. I also find this unsettling since as an anxious person myself, peering into the future and expecting the worst can only achieve two things; upping the ante on my anxiety as well as thrusting me entirely out of the present moment. In truth, we are looking to tap into our courage right now – not sometime next week or next month and certainly not at the last minute when the worst does show up on our path. As far as many of us are concerned who are experiencing the pain that can come with being gripped with fear, the worst is here and there is absolutely no time like the present.

The Simple “How To”

So, what is this gentle path I am speaking of? As we explore many ways of holding our pain, the notion of simple, mindful observation of anything that plagues us, I am going to argue, is the most rapid path to healing we can take. 

Imagine this: what would it be like for you to simply observe Fear as if it were an entity standing far on the other side of a large room from you? This entity is not attached to you in any way and it is far enough away in this moment to cause you no harm. You can see Fear clearly. Perhaps you can see how it is dressed, the expression on its face, the subtleties of its body language and whilst you rest in the knowing that in this moment Fear has no power over you, you simply observe it. I fully understand that this might be a difficult thing to imagine since most of us experience our fear internally. But as an exercise, a very mindful one, imagine being able to take on the scenario fully.

How might it feel? Is it possible that you would feel a sense of power knowing that you are safe? Would you stand in recognition of the fear and have a completely different experience if Fear were completely detached from you? This type of observation is in direct alignment with the kind of gentle observation I have begun speaking of here.

Now, it’s time to take a breath, a very gentle one, allow what you have read to find a space to rest inside you and when you are ready, continue the journey!

Big love and light to you!

This article features an excerpt from When They Cheat: Recovering Your Power and Purpose in the Face of Loss and Uncertainty, Copyright © DW Long 2020, All Rights Reserved.

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