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On Courage

and how it fits in with your life purpose

Courage is a prerequisite for personal growth.

I heard this quote a few years ago, I believe it was from Paulo Coelho (one of my favourite writers!), and it really struck a chord.

Personal growth can be scary and uncomfortable. It means examining your life - your circumstance, habits, tendencies and everyday reactions and asking - is this making me feel how I want to feel, is this what I want? Do I feel like I'm living my purpose? And perhaps the answer you get is NO, and you know you need to do something differently.

But it's also the only way to live in alignment with our natural process....of always growing, expanding, progressing, and therefore feel happy at every new stage of life. I believe we cannot be happy if we aren't willing to grow. Ignorance is not bliss.

A life of more meaning and purpose is always on the other side of courageous actions that we take in spite of odds being stacked against us, or our fearful self saying no.

You may have heard that little fearful self in your head before, or it's been operating in your life completely unconsciously. I remember when I read one of my first personal growth books about 17 years ago and stumbled upon the idea that FEAR is the ultimate barrier that's holding us back from a fulfilled life. A voice in my head protested - "Fear? I'm not afraid!" I was confused.

It took some recognising that fear often masks itself as avoidance in any form, such as retreating rather than having uncomfortable yet necessary conversations, or going against my better judgement to please someone of importance in my life, or passing up an opportunity of a lifetime because I don't feel I'm ready for it. There's a difference between being ready and feeling ready. It wasn't conscious at the time, but fear it was nevertheless.

We all have this fearful part of us whose job is to be afraid for us and prevent us from getting into danger. It's especially fearful of anything new and different, because there's uncertainty and it doesn't like uncertainty.

It wants nothing more than to keep us where we are, in our comfort zone, with its illusion of status quo and safety. It's usually very good at its job too, and I'm not trying to discredit it. It has its place, and it has kept us safe many times. The problem occurs when it's taking up the role of the main decision-maker in your life.

If we let our fearful self run the show and take what it's saying as the ultimate truth, it will keep us small, stuck and in conflict with our true nature which is to always grow and expand and reach for new heights.

Remember being on the fence about something really compelling, and scary at the same time. It's like there are two voices inside you...and sometimes even more. The daring one coaxing you to go for that dream and figure out anything you need to on the way, while the other is begging you to not be so crazy and take risks, or you may regret it.

These voices are often echoed in our environment, by people who surround us and our culture that is often very limiting in how it is acceptable to express ourselves. There can be a real internal conflict, and I can admit that I've often felt it, when it came to my personal choices, my career, my relationships.

Now I'm not saying you have to go with the daring voice every time and jump into every adventure it would have you go after.

But I do say that COURAGE is necessary to make conscious choices in life.

Courage means your readiness to examine each of these voices, to be brave and hear them out and face whatever they might have to share with you. You can see what is going on inside you just under the conscious level, and once you understand that, you can make a more informed decision.

So perhaps the fearful self makes you realise that you've been neglecting your needs and you really need to be a bit kinder to yourself, or you painfully realise how much you're still hurting from a past "failure"*. The daring self may point out the areas where you're unfulfilled and not living a life that feels really true to you.

Why would you need to know that? Because this is your inner reality, and it's affecting your outer reality whether you're aware of it or not.

Instead, you can be in control of your reality. With courage, you can choose.

Either to defy the world of constant busyness and take a whole day, or week, to tend to your needs, or to go against the grain and go on an adventure that is outrageous to some, and yet the only thing that feels right to you.

It takes courage to keep going for your dream when you might have given up in the past, and courage to stop where you might have pushed yourself too far previously.

The choice is yours.

I'm always inspired by this Carl Jung's quote:

If you don't make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.

We're so much more powerful than we often think. It just takes courage to claim it.

Courage is in being honest with yourself, being brave to face your vulnerability and take conscious choices in your life. Even when they feel the less pleasant/comfortable option.

Make it a practice, and build it like a muscle. #courageovercomfort

I'm excited for your life lived this way!

Thanks for reading, and I hope it was helpful!

Now let me know in the comments:

  1. What resonated most with you? and 
  2. In what area of YOUR life has courage been the key ingredient?

* I put failure in "" because I don't believe there really is such a thing in life. Of course, in hindsight we may think we would do sth differently, and we really mean it, but without doing it the way we initially did we would not have gotten to this realisation. There's only learning that matters, and failure sounds too judgemental for my taste ;)

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