“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
I want to write today about courage. And, to be honest, I’m writing about this today as a way to deal with the feelings of discouragement that I’ve been experiencing lately.
Am I really going to admit here that I have been feeling discouraged? Yep. Here’s why. I think it’s very important to own up to the fact that I’m human and my struggle looks VERY much like the struggles I help my clients work through. Different sub-plots, but it’s essentially the same story and my work is to let go of my story and get out of “victim” mode as quickly as I can.
I looked up “discouragement” in the dictionary, and it means, “to tend to stop something, to deter someone,” and the synonyms are disheartened, dispirited, and a whole bunch of other gloomy words.
So why am I feeling discouraged? Let me break it down for you.
What happened: I didn’t get something I wanted and I didn’t like the way I didn’t get it. I placed a judgment on the situation, that it was bad. The other people in the situation? Well, I judged them too – they don’t care about me, they didn’t treat me right, they’re bad. Then there are a lot of other thoughts that came forward as a result of my reaction: “It’s not fair, I’m not good enough,” etc. These thoughts created the emotional energy of discouragement. I felt disheartened, dispirited as a result. If I follow these thoughts and feelings to their usual result, they will stop me from taking action in the world that moves me closer to my goals and expressing my purpose in the world. That’s how it works. Thoughts, feelings, and actions line up. There’s a thought, a feeling to match the thought, and action follows.
Hold on. Wait a minute. I’m not OK with giving up.
Here’s where I take a deep dive into my upset in order to take a look at what is present inside of ME that created this reaction. Why? Because, I refuse to let this stop me from moving forward. I decide to apply my courage to the situation so that my life expands instead of contracting. I will do the opposite of discouraging (dis-courage) myself. I will encourage – EN COURAGE – myself instead.
The word “courage” comes from the Latin word “cor” which means heart. So, discouragement is taking the heart out of something, encouragement is to provide heart, raise the spirits, to hearten.
I think it is no accident that “heart” is the key to doing battle with discouragement. If I withdraw my heart from myself, the situation, and the other people in it, the result is that I’m the one who loses. The situation is over, it’s in the past. The other people have moved on, oblivious of my little drama. This is another reason that I will pick myself up and dust myself off and get over it. I don’t like to loose.
So, if we take this further, to give my heart back to myself is to love myself through the situation, through my thoughts and feelings about it. This is healing. In the abstract, this path easy to follow.
Here’s the thing. In real life, it takes great courage to face the parts of myself that I don’t like, to deal with the inner aspects that say I’m “not good enough.” It takes great courage to take responsibility for the part of me who wants to moan and complain that it’s someone else’s fault that I’m upset.
And, here is the way I choose to deal with MY upset. And, this is, for the most part, a solo process. I let myself feel my anger and bitterness and resentment and express that in my anger release work. I hold myself and let myself cry and express all my hurt and disappointment. I forgive myself for the judgments. I tell myself the truth. They didn’t do this to me. I’m going to be ok. I’m lovable just as I am. Not one soul will be lost. Everything that all the parts inside need to hear, I tell them. I am patient, kind, compassionate, and loving with myself. I ENCOURAGE myself by giving my heart to myself. I choose the path of courage. I do this until the feelings of discouragement are gone. It takes time. It’s been a couple of weeks since all this happened, and I’m not done yet.
And in the meantime, I don’t stop. Even while finding my heart so I can give it back to myself, I keep going, doing my life, my work, my version of “chop wood, carry water.”
I’ve been told that you have to be willing to die in battle in order to win the war. 100% willing, not just kinda, sorta willing. The coward’s (a person lacking courage) way out would be to choose to remain a victim to what happened and let discouragement win. And, as they say, a coward dies a thousand deaths instead of just the one.
In this kind of battle with the invading forces of my ego, it’s the limiting patterns of the ego that I have to be willing to sacrifice so that I can ultimately experience the freedom and peace of my soul. It is the part of me that is 100% willing to die. Interesting paradox. The ego falls on its sword to save me.
Love and Blessings on Your Journey,