Courage is the ability to follow your heart, even though you are afraid.
This relatively simple exercise seems to be one of the hardest things for me to do.
For me that means accepting both my inner longing and my fear, without distancing myself from either of them. It means risking looking foolish or being rejected because I am showing up with everything I am – or at least a bit more of what I am.
It is becoming increasingly clear for me how rarely I dare to bring myself fully. I am afraid of bringing my love fully because there is a risk of rejection and I am afraid of bringing my joy fully because there is a risk of ridicule. I am afraid of bringing my boundaries, because I might be left if I do.
These fears make me hold back my (authentic) expression and wait until it feels like I am allowed to bring myself in. The “permission” comes from my perception of the surroundings and if they feel safe enough that my expression is welcome. Quite often I ask others about their needs or wants to enable myself to step into an already known space. It is however becoming clear for me that this approach feels far less real and alive than the times where I move with courage, risking rejection and facing my fear of “doing something wrong”.
The fear of “doing something wrong” is becoming increasingly visible for me as a pattern I have carried with me from childhood. This patterning is now mostly showing up as a pride based identification with never doing anything wrong – being “impeccable” provides me with a bulletproof shell that I can move around the world with, never having to really experience the fear in my heart of not really being good enough.
I have recently had some clear experiences on how this pattern impacts people around me. How my pride, which is really hiding a younger and more vulnerable side of me, makes me show up in a distanced, aloof manner, which makes people around me feel like they are not good enough – In this way my deep rooted fear is transferred to my surroundings.
At a personal level it is also becoming clear for me that this patterning, which makes me avoid stepping into territory where I feel out of control, also means that I very rarely allow myself to really do want I want to and particularly that it is impossible to really take pleasure in what I do if I have to be on guard for “doing something wrong” all the time. Courage means not letting my pride get in the way of what I deeply want to do.
Being more like a cat
Around a year ago, while I was assisting on a circling SAS training with Circling Europe, I had the strong desire to be more like a cat. Being like a cat is for me a very concretely embodied sense, but here I have also tried to attach some concepts to what being a cat means for me.
Owning my own fear and really realizing that it is MY fear has the potential to transform my relationship to the fear from something that holds me away from the world, to using the fear as a guide that can point me to something that is important to me. Using the fear to move with what is alive in the moment.
Another aspect of this is moving away from making plans for how to become a better person, making myself into a project to be finished. A more “catty” way seems to be to see the potential for transformation that is there in every moment and having the courage to go with it when it is there.
I increasingly see how scared I am of intimacy. And how that fear is connected to a claustrophobic sense of “not being able to get away” or being held and contained. I see how this fear often is stopping me from moving with the aliveness I feel because I am afraid that it might lead me to an unknown space where I am not able to say stop or get away. Being more like a cat implies allowing myself to step in and out of intimacy based on my own desires and needs.
Surrender connects to letting go of the pressure to know what my experience means. It concerns being willing to be part of something and bringing myself fully, without controlling the whole by needing a particular answer or result of my actions.
My process these days is a lot about getting past naming my fears (which I have become quite good at), but rather embodying and moving with whatever it is that I am afraid of. The courageous move seems to be about stepping out from a position where I see my safety as the most important – a state of fear where I hide my truth and my sensitivity from the world – into a world where I can move towards that which scares me and explore it.