Tag Archives: self belief

The Heart of Courage

People who we might think of as emblems of courage, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are marked by a strong and clear purpose. Courageous people have a steadiness, a consistency, an ability to stick to their principles and do what they think is right even when times are challenging.  They have a clear inner voice.

My journey into courage has led me away from extraordinary feats of courage towards a way of living courageously that is within reach of everyone. Still it seems that having a strong and clear purpose, and a clear inner voice is a key element of courage.

In order to develop our courage we need to develop our beliefs or values, our meaning and purpose. We need to work on this, investigating alternative points of view, until we find that which we can really believe in, and feel deeply connected to, and use this to guide us through life.

The word courage comes from the old French word corage meaning heart, similar to the Spanish corazon and the modern French coeur. It has long been known and perhaps since forgotten that the source of courage is in the heart.

The more I work on the subject academically and personally, the more I believe this to be true. Learning about different values and beliefs is important, opening your mind is very important, but ultimately your heart tells you what is right and wrong, and tuning into your heart and acting accordingly is living courageously.

When we develop ourselves on the inside, knowing our values, developing our meaning and passion, our clarity of vision on what we stand for, when we can hear what is in our heart, and when we act on it, and live it, then we will find our courage and live the wholehearted life we want.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  Steve Jobs




Strength in Vulnerability

It is so hard to show ourselves as we really are. Most of us have a suspicion that deep down we are not really ok. This is a real problem because it condemns us to a lifetime of struggle to hide who we really are. So much so that most of us don’t even want to look there ourselves for fear of what we might find. It also condemns us to a life of solitude because we can never let anyone close enough to see who we really are, to show ourselves in all our human frailty and imperfection. We imagine that such a rejection of our heart and soul would be devastating. So we pretend and we hide.

So let’s imagine what if. What if we muster up the courage to look at ourselves, and keep on looking, finding our weaknesses, our vulnerability, seeing our real truth and beauty? What if we were to accept ourselves with compassion, warts and all? Then what if we were brave enough to share ourselves at this deeper level with those we love and trust? If they reject us, we still have our own acceptance of ourselves to come back to. But just imagine what if they were able to see us, accept us, love us not in spite of but because of our vulnerability?

We think that vulnerability is weakness so we hide it, but it takes great courage to be vulnerable, to show up as imperfect as we really are. We face condemnation and rejection. As we continue to deliberately and consciously live with our vulnerability on show, as we learn that we have nothing to prove and nothing to hide, gradually we become invincible.

Self Worth is the Foundation of Courage

Unless you have a sense of self worth you cannot live courageously.  An inner self belief is the foundation that is required to build courage upon. When you are not sure of yourself you will falter when the going gets tough. When you don’t trust your instincts you will look around to see what others expect of you. When you haven’t taken the time to build up your beliefs in what is right and what is wrong you cannot act with any conviction. When you haven’t spent the time with yourself, learnt to accept what you see and finally come to like yourself, you will always hide. You will hide from yourself, avoid looking, distract yourself and you will hide from others. Because you are afraid that what is there is inadequate, deficient, unlikeable.

We are trapped until we take the time to get to know ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are, until we fully accept ourselves with all our strengths and our faults and imperfections. In doing this we gradually learn to care less about what other people think, and care more about what we think. We are able to act according to what we believe to be right. We become less eager to please others and more eager to please ourselves.   We can open up when we are not craving approval. Other people can take us or leave us. Not everyone will like us. And when we are no longer afraid of who we might be, are no longer ashamed of ourselves, then we don’t have to hide and we become free.

Future blog posts will address why a sense of self-worth is so lacking in our society, so difficult to acquire and what we can do to build ourselves a solid foundation for a courageous and whole hearted life.