“If you are not living your truth, you are living a lie.” ~Joseph Curiale
Her sobs break my heart. It’s something we all have experienced. If the relationship feels like it is in a war-torn place, rather than at home.
I reach out for a hug. “You can’t go on like this,” I whisper.
“Well, I don’t know what to do. Please don’t tell me to break up,” she looks up pleadingly. “I can’t do it. I won’t be able to bear it. I am not as strong as you.”
A familiar musical refrain from Tina Turner comes to mind albeit with a slight word twist…
“What’s strength got to do, got to do with it?
The Oxford Dictionary defines strength as “the emotional and mental qualities necessary in dealing with difficult or distressing situations.” It almost seems as if these set of qualities are innate—something you are born with, like blue eyes or curly hair.
People who have the strength to fly high above their circumstances, overcome all hurdles without difficulty, and achieve Herculean glory. They can carry just about everything and do almost any task. There is nothing that can stop them.
This was how I thought it until some others realized that I actually belonged to this mythical group. What was my response? I am incredulous.
Everything scares me. Public speaking is something that scares me. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of ants. I’m afraid of people meeting new people. Most of the time before I start something new or need to do something confrontational, I spend hours under my duvet or eating an entire chocolate fudge cake from Sainsbury’s to soothe my nerves.
Fear has always been my loyal partner from Day One. But, in spite of this, I’ve made some progress. It is difficultDecisions; took risks. I explored paths not taken. I stepped out of my comfort zone. And that’s not because I am strong. However, it’s because I choose courage.
Courage, dear friend, does not equal strength.
Courage can be simply described as your Truth
According to American author and professor Brené Brown, an early definition of courage is “To speak one’s mind by telling all, one’s heart.”
A clue lies in the root word courage. “Cor” in Latin or “coeur” in French means—the heart. Courage is simply being true to yourself or telling the truth.
But speaking your truth is tough since most of the time, we often aren’t on good terms with our own truths. Our attention is drawn to keeping things in check, such as who or where we are, what our peers expect us to be, socially acceptable and convenient. These crowded surroundings can make it difficult to see the truth.
A long, long time ago, when I was still in the corporate world, my then-boss asked me where I saw myself in a year’s time. His desire to make me a better person was evident. He was also convinced that I would like to be promoted. Because I was due one. And who wouldn’t want a promotion? All I had to do was give the ‘right’ answer—something about wanting to grow further, taking on more responsibilities, I was ready, etc.
Yet that afternoon sitting across from him, an unanticipated response sprung to my mind instead—“Anywhere but here.”
This shocked me. It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that I could be so. ThisUnsatisfied with work. Did I feel deliriously satisfied? No, but I wasn’t never expecting fulfillment.
I felt comfortable and loved my colleagues. The money I earned was sufficient to sustain a life that I truly loved. It seemed like I found a perfect balance, a compromise that was worth the sacrifices I would make for my entire life. However, my heart seemed to be disagreeing. This sweet compromise started to feel like a huge mistake—as if I was on the wrong train.
Sometimes, when confronted by an uncomfortable truth, the first instinct is to try and get it out of our heads. And that’s exactly the strategy I adopted. This feeling kept me begging for it to stop. It didn’t disappear. It stood strong and steady in deep caves of my being.
And that’s what you will realize about The Truth. It is a part of the reservoir that holds wisdom. And, like all things from these parts, it does not shout. Your fears do. Your ego will scream. Your panic attacks will be like a torrent of destructive hurricanes. However, your truth is quiet and waiting for you. It is your steadfast signal to live your best life.
Courage is a Navigation System
Courage doesn’t come with a list of characteristics. You don’t pursue courage. Courage calls you. You can make it your whole life Sat navOr true north Martha Beck’s term. The lighthouse that helps you navigate the ocean that is your life.
True to their words, there are no two masters. Your decision-making is more focused on the truth than fear. It doesn’t disappear from the landscape completely, but it gets more muted in the distinct light of your truth. It will cease to be a whirlwind of thoughts and futures. Your unique, sacred truths will propel your life.
It is a horrible feeling to have my writing reviewed by others. This makes me feel like I have been stripped of all my skin and am now facing the outside world without any protection. Yet I continue to write despite my fear of the cauldron pot of criticism, judgments, and embarrassment because that’s what my heart wants. To fully live my life, writing is all I do. Writing is more of a necessity than it is a desire. All other things, such as shame and fear, are meaningless.
The Path of Courage
Courage is not a path that requires you to do great feats. It is often very simple and straightforward. You won’t have to break up with it today or anywhere else. Instead it will direct you to get to sleep, join a retreat, dance with Kate Bush, watch the sky, and even to take a look at a YouTube video.
Your heart is about love and the path of gentleness is the language for love. You will be more gentle if you follow the path of courage.
Courage is also an utterly simple path. My life became more simple when I focused on my heart. I was able to stop chasing after things that I thought I would like or make me happy, such as learning another language, dancing, travelling, and going out with my friends.
It became easier to admit that these activities never actually fed me, and I wasn’t really enjoying them that much. No became easier to say with clarity. So did my needs.
You can’t guarantee the courage path will take you to happiness. It will often lead to difficult situations in which you struggle to find meaning. It can drag you along the ground, lead you to beautiful roads and throw you off course. Even if you don’t have a map, I guarantee you won’t feel lost. Oder that you’re on the wrong train.
Is courage something you are called upon to act now?
About Shoba Haridas
Shoba Haridas blogs and writes about the experiences she has off-the-beaten-path. Her writings include difficult decisions, slowing down and dealing with uncertainty. Follow her on shobaharidas.wordpress.com. Her passion is predicting the future and she’s an amateur astrologer. She saw a contagion in 2020.
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Tiny Buddha published The One Thing You Should Do in Order to Make The Right Decisions.