“An act of courage is always an act of love” Paulo Coelho
We often think of love as an all-consuming passion for one other person in our life. This may be the ideal of romantic love, but it is not a reliable guide to acting in a sound, ethical and loving way. Sometimes it is quite the opposite as we lose our individual identity in the other person, becoming dependent on them, and fear their rejection. We give up our control centre, our reason. If we are dominated by fear of loss we cannot truly love. If it is more about us than it is about them, it is not love at all.
Many of the world’s sages and spiritual leaders hold the view that you have to love yourself before you can love another person. The idea is that we have to know who we are, and love who we are, before we can love another, before we can give to another with generosity, without fear, with love. Only when we have accepted ourselves, warts and all, can we fully reveal ourselves to others. And only then is true intimacy possible.
When we accept our whole self, we can love whole-heartedly. We can commit to the wellbeing and growth of another person without fear of being diminished. Giving from an empty well is to love from a place of under-resource. When we love ourself we channel infinite resource and can give unconditionally.
Love is strong and truthful, and courageous. When we act out of love we don’t pussyfoot around the truth, fearful of upsetting the other person, frightened of their anger or rejection. Instead, we hold their wellbeing and our own in the highest regard and speak the truth to the best of our ability, knowing that facing the truth is the path to growth.
It is not easy to move from fear to love. Fear comes from the belief that the world is a scary place. Terrible things do happen and there are people who do terrible things. We have a choice to make. Fear or love. Does our fear protect us? Does it help us to live our life the way we want, to do the things we want to do, to have the relationships and connections we want? Or does it keep us trapped, afraid of harm, of rejection, afraid of trying?
When we operate from love, our attention moves away from ourselves and our fears. Our attention is not on our needs, desires and fears, but on how we can care for ourselves and serve others. When we operate from love there is no room for fear. Love will push out the fear from our hearts. Eventually love replaces fear and we become fearless. This is when we fully step into our courage.