Courage

“Being fearless is not being without fear. Being fearless is feeling the fear and stepping forward anyway. It is the courage to look at the fear just as it is, without giving it energy and without letting it take control.” ~Pema Chodron

Fear has been an ever-present companion of mine for as long as I can remember. This has been especially true of late. The attempt to live a life of authenticity is not an easy one—especially when one is first starting on the journey because there is so much that must be changed that will lead to resistance from those who thought they knew me. As I transform my life in ways that will make other people uncomfortable, their resistance and displeasure can add to my own internal resistance to change. And yet, there comes a time when the need to be authentically me becomes stronger than any internal or external resistance against it.

It is times like this when I am grateful that the courage to move forward does not require the absence of fear. I am learning to feel the fear, to  acknowledge its presence, and to do what needs done anyway.  To take each step with trembling knees and shaky breath when it’s the only way forward.

I like Pema’s reminder that I can look at the fear “without giving it energy and without letting it take control.” It’s so easy when looking at one’s fear to feed it with energy so that it grows and becomes an out-of-control monster. My tendency when confronting my fear is either to give into it and allow it to control me or try to deny its existence altogether, thereby forcing it into my shadow. Neither approach has proven to be particularly helpful. Learning to just neutrally observe and acknowledge the fear is the path to owning all of my experience without allowing those emotions to dictate my decisions or my future.

I had to face an unexpected situation today that generated a great deal of fear, fear at a level that is perilously close to panic. This situation presented with two options for reaction: I could pull back and withdraw into hiding to try to minimize any additional impact from what had happened, or I could stay the course and stick with my decision to be who I am despite the potential for some negative reactions that I am not yet prepared for.

With knees knocking and my heart beating out of my chest, I am choosing to hold my course. The universe has shown itself repeatedly on this journey to be a generous source of support when I live my truth, and I am going to trust that this will continue to hold true in this situation and that the net will appear to cushion my fall. In the meantime, I acknowledge the fear, but I refuse to give it power over me.

There is no courage without fear.

There is no growth without courage.

I am committed to growth.

I choose growth over fear.

I choose; fear doesn’t.

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