Monday, June 27, 2011

Living Beyond Fear as the Courageous Woman You Are

This post is in support of my upcoming Tele-Class, "The Spiritual Invitation of Fear." 

I hope you will join me and begin an empowered new journey learning "The Fundamentals of Fear Control." Freedom from fear can be yours—forever!—with the principles and techniques you will learn in this dynamic (donation-based) tele-class.

Wednesday, July 6 ~ 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Learn more/Register

 Living Beyond Fear as the Courageous Woman You Are

“The next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”
-Pema Chodron

I recall the occasion well, that precipitous moment when I finally claimed myself as a woman of courage.

It was at a luncheon for women in business. You know the kind—networking opportunities, Caesar salad with chicken, and a guest speaker while you ate. Two of my friends had created the event and were presenting a talk on “Courage.” They asked the group a question: “Do you consider yourself to be courageous?”  With a mind all its own, my arm shot up into the air. Then I looked around me only to discover that not one other hand had been raised. In a group of fifty or so, not a single woman felt she had courage, or she lacked the   confidence to publicly affirm it.

That was an eye-opening moment for me, for I had never thought of myself as particularly brave, confident, much less a risk taker. What I did know was this: I’d experienced many difficult situations in my life, and I had not only survived them, but thrived through them. Through adversity, I grew up and into my truest self—a woman of courage.

Mind you, I am no different than any other woman. Each of us is given certain circumstances—for whatever reasons, heaven knows—and we simply deal with them. We dig down deep, grab onto whatever we can, and move forward. We access our inner reservoir of strength. We persevere. We forge ahead because we have to, and when we can, we are better people because of it.

We often think of courageous women as those who have done extraordinary things, like Amelia Earhart or Indira Gandhi. Yet, courage is primarily sourced in the everyday, the simple, the sublime. “Courage is the ability to do what needs to be done, or feel what needs to be felt, in spite of fear,” writes Sue Patton Thoele, author of The Courage to Be Yourself. “It’s the ability to risk or act even when we are frightened or in pain.”

Think of the many ways that you have demonstrated courage in ”normal” situations like: having a baby, going through surgery, leaving a relationship, changing careers, dealing with loss. Make a list of all the everyday things you have been confronted with and navigated successfully--even though you felt some fear about doing so in the moment.

This is why I was able to raise my hand at the luncheon that day and admit I was courageous. I had been thinking (and writing publicly) about many of my life experiences: the loss of my first baby, chronic health issues, my daughter serving as a Marine in the Iraqi conflict, a divorce, and so much more. Without even knowing it, I had created a list in my mind, the same list I invite you to make here, and, in doing so, had come to realize that though I had been fearful, I came through the episode in tact. In fact, I had grown tremendously because of it.

Can you see how you might be more courageous than you think? Can you see how, when the going got tough, you found the strength you needed to go on? I hope so, for in today’s challenging world, where fear of loss or failure can run rampant, it is vital that we not lose sight of our innate ability to proceed confidently through life; to persevere with strength, fortitude, and with that uniquely feminine quality-—grace.

Women are resilient beings. I love that word—resilient. It speaks to me of all that is wonderful about women. We are pliable and flexible, yet, at the same time, sturdy and strong. This quality of resilience will take us far—to love, to health, to success, to the new life that awaits us as we embrace ourselves as the courageous women we always were —and can be!

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