Our life is reflected in the words that describe us.
Who are you?
A helper, a dreamer, a fighter, a crusader? A doer, a thinker, an intellect—a creator? Courage is my favourite word. If I died tomorrow, I would like to be described as having lived a courageous life.
There is no downside to courage, none at all. When you are courageous, it’s right up there with humility and grace.
Courage is bold but not aggressive. Courage is fierce but also humble. Courage leads from the front; it is frightened yet unafraid.
Fear, on the other hand, sucks the fun, the joy, the creativity out of life. To be fearful is no way to live.
There is good fear, the fear of high edges, burning fires and fast water, this kind of fear is sensible fear—keeping your precious body safe. And, your intuitive fear—that raises the hair on the back of your neck, that wakes up your sixth sense; that fear, the one we often ignore—because of a FEAR of being rude or inappropriater—is good fear; it saves lives and we must trust our instincts and listen when it speaks.
The soul-sapping, fun-stealing, life-squashing fear, is the fear I’m talking about. The fear of not being good enough, the fear of being foolish, of failing, of succeeding, of loving but not being loved in return. The fear that we might be different, the fear of judgement, of ruffling feathers—or speaking out, of standing up for someone or something. These fears exist for almost all of us; what sets the warrior apart from the rest, is whether you let them define you.
Look for this sneaky fear—often well disguised, feel it—know it is not real. Stare it straight in the eye, throw your head back and smile, feel your strength, breathe it in and do whatever it is you need to do, with fear by your side.
This is courage, it is a learnt behaviour fuelled by small, rebellious acts, that sometimes scream and often whisper, “I will not be defined by you”.
My Mum, who has endured the maelstrom of a long life—from childhood orphanages to a dear sister’s suicide—gave me a tool I use to this day: faced with an uncertain outcome she would say, “Paula, what is the worst thing that can happen?”
Now, when I feel that familiar resistance of fear—as it circles me, trying to keep me in—I ask myself, “what is the worst that can happen if I do this thing?” By mentally going to the worst possible outcome, I realise I can handle almost anything. No limbs will be lost—I will not die, the outcome may not be perfect, or glamorous, but there will be growth and I will be OK. Like my mother taught me, I now teach this to my boys and live by it almost every day.
Sometimes we need to give our courage to someone else who can’t see the way. Courage breathes life, it opens hearts and creates a path for others to follow. Whatever the outcome, when we stand in courage from a place of love, we discover how truly remarkable we are. Live each moment of this precious life in courage, not fear. Choose courage.