Fear makes us believe that we cannot keep safe unless protected. In reality, fear takes over our choices and actions. Fear makes us shrink in the face of adversity; hide when we need to be seen; and keep our mouth shut when our voices need to be heard. In fact, fear keeps us at a standstill, and breeds mediocrity. It guarantees that we will never fulfill our desires and robs us of our life!
I cannot deny that fear may be helpful when the time comes to cross the street, making us look both ways before crossing. It warns us against dangers occasionally and thus keeps us safe. Fear has a purpose, but we need to be vigilant against the fear that breeds doubts and takes us away from our heart’s desires. For this kind of fear, we need courage rather than protection.
I want to talk about the courage that exists in all of us, and needs only to be activated to source our choices and infuse our life. This is like a muscle that will pull you out of your past and propel you into a promising future. Through courage, we are granted the ability to safely make new choices and get out of a situation where we have felt stuck, stagnated, or defeated. Courage opens our eyes to new visions and possibilities of who we can be and what we can do in the world.
I devoted my life to international relations but on occasions I have felt stuck in jobs that seemed irrelevant, stagnated in bureaucratic positions, or felt defeated dealing with deteriorating relations that left no other option but to retreat. More than once, I yielded to this voice inside that gave me the courage to jump ship and change continent to start over, renewing my passion for international relations. I exercised this muscle enough to rely on it to pull me out of the past into the future.
While I often found courage in action, I only recently discovered courage in inaction. Transitions in life and work are usually difficult, as they require letting go of habits of thinking which no longer serve. I discovered the hard way that we make ourselves suffer needlessly rather than simply accept that it is sometimes more important not to work, to let go for a while of the notion of being always outwardly productive, in order to be more inwardly active.
I have discovered that the greatest act of courage is to be and own all of who we are.
True courage comes from not just feeling confident and strong, as I once might have said, but from being our honest, authentic self, and that may first require embracing a feeling of powerlessness and despair. This courage exists in each one of us but will remain dormant if we are so protected that it is never activated and brought into the full light of day. You cannot miss it. Once activated, it feels like hope, enthusiasm, optimism, and passion before you even take a step, and chases away fear, cynicism, resignation, and excuses.
Let us overcome our fears; dare to be vulnerable; free our courage inside and make the right choice, even when there is no choice to make and we are faced with outward inaction. The point is to own all of who we are and shine through our vulnerability.