What is courage?
Courage is commonly thought to mean something like ‘a lack of fear.’ I believe that courage, in its simplest form, is genuine self-compassion. While certain acts of bravery may be done on instinct and adrenalin, acts of true courage require that we deliberately value and believe in ourselves with conviction. Again, when we are living courageously we are expressing self-compassion with absolute certainty.
How do we get to this land of Self-Compassion to live a courageous life? How do we not get overtaken by fear, and wind up on the island of Self-Doubt?
First, we must make a decision to change. Rosa Parks was interviewed in the last years of her life on her courage. She said, “I am not courageous.” Parks said she refused to give up her seat on the bus on December 1, 1955, not because she felt “courageous,” but because she had had enough. Parks simply decided from her core that she had reached her limit. Self-compassion was exemplified in that decision.
Self-Compassion comes when we are so sure of a decision that we are unable to conceive or imagine our lives continuing as they are. This one decision will give us the determination we need to walk in the direction of health, though not painlessly or easily. The steps we take, paired with the motivating decisions, are what maps true courage.
You may have thought that you made decisions to change before, but the reality is, if the change didn’t happen, your decisions may have been immature because of the ambivalence within you. If you notice this, don’t discredit yourself by reciting, “I have no will power; I can’t commit; I am addicted to whatever and can’t live without it; I am a failure.” Instead, try some compassion for how hard it is to live a healthful life, and how hard it is to access your potential. Remind yourself that to be courageous, you must acquire a deep self-love and self-compassion.
We must understand that to consistently have the energy to attend to life is in itself, courageous, and so merely by continuing to live we are exhibiting courage.
Today, ask yourself, “What decisions of change do I need to make in order to honor myself and live a courageous life?”