This word is just about the best compliment one can receive regarding their character. It is a skill, an ability that was needed in the past, that is needed now, and will forever be needed by all animals and elements alike to truly achieve greatness.
But what is courage? What does it really mean?
To me, courage is a subjective term.
Some time ago, I moved to Italy, uprooted my life to begin again here. For most people, moving to a new country, changing my career, my lifestyle, the people I frequented (and not having enough money!), was a brave thing. For me, it was a choice, and not a difficult one. So in this particular instance, I was courageous in the eyes of others, but in my eyes, it had nothing to do with courage.
So you see, we have courage in two parts:
When we are courageous in our own eyes
When we are courageous in the eyes of others
For all intents and purposes, the first one is the one that holds weight, as the most important opinion you should value is your own.
When we are courageous to ourselves, or for ourselves, we have been honest with ourselves about what is easy for us, and what isn’t. To be courageous is to go beyond yourself, to achieve something extraordinary.
When we are courageous in the eyes of others, a choice which comes with ease and is in the natural flow of things to us will seem like a huge effort to others, as they are viewing it from their own perspective and not yours. We are all different people. What is easy for you might be hard for others and vice versa.
Like all abilities, courage is developed, nurtured, created, and may even be destroyed and recreated. When we are born we have raw courage – untouched by human experiences. As we go on with life, accumulating scars, victories, and knowledge, we unlearn and relearn courage to best suit ourselves and the circumstances we put ourselves in.
It is a broad topic, and we can talk circles around the possibilities and opportunities of courage. But there are aspects that will help us understand it better, and learn to use it better in our lives.
One of the values embedded in a courageous person is honesty. Honestly with self and others alike aids you in understanding your own capabilities, and what is a brave act for you, and what isn’t. You must be honest with yourself about what you want to actually achieve and then go and get it.
We must view situations as they are, and not as we think they are. Facing the reality of the situation is so important when choosing a path in life that leads to the best of you. We must learn to be present, and not inject past and future projections of our experiences and expectations, but just be in the moment and see it for what it is. We also need to remove any judgments and subjectivity from the way we view things. To be able to look at the situation from each person’s point of view, to be truly empathetic, is a true skill that leads to making courageous choices, as it leads us to the choice that creates happiness for everyone.
We must also be honest with others in order to practice courage.
How do we encourage others to be courageous through honesty?
Be completely you with others, so they see an example of how possible it is to make better choices, to make braver choices when you are being honestly you.
Being Free of Judgement
Much easier said than done, once we rid ourselves of making judgments, it will be much easier to practice courage. For this, we must make a clear distinction between judgment and observation. We observe what is present, but we judge based on past implications.
When we judge, we are lying to ourselves. This leads to us choosing something that will not be best for us, or for others.
And it is not just our judgments that affect our choices, but others’ judgments as well.
What is courage viewed as in society?
Courage is determined by other people’s judgments. What our society judges to be courageous, we accept as a brave act, Going back to when I moved to Italy and transformed my life, others perceived it to be brave, while I felt it was a natural and ease-filled choice for me. If I had allowed other people’s judgments to influence my choice, I may have never moved. But instead, at that moment, I removed the effect of other people’s judgments about my actions and choices and saw the situation for what it really was: a choice which came with ease and was in the natural flow of things for me.
We must also accept when we are not making a choice that is brave. Learning from a situation that has gone differently than you hoped it would is also a courageous choice. We must gain the knowledge to choose differently when faced with a similar situation, and not be forced into a default reaction.
So courage, in the end, is just what you think it is. It is present and embedded in ourselves and the situations we create for ourselves. All we need to do is grab it.
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