Using Compassion to Cultivate Courage

This quote struck a chord in me, something sounding like a Major 7 - it sounds hopeful, but with a tinge of mystery and contemplation ….

The root of the word courage is actually “Cour” which means Heart.

It’s an odd thing because heart tends to make us think of love and softness whereas courage tends to convey strength and unyielding.

How can we relate these 2 ideas?

I think that when we allow ourselves to truly and deeply soften we connect ourselves with a deeper level of our strength. Practices like yoga and tai-chi among others often talk about softening into a pose in order to access greater balance and strength. Meditation talks about softening in order to create a stronger foundation of calm. It’s near impossible to hold a pose when we are tightening our body and holding our breath because the tension works against our muscles and our stability.

Similarly in life, if our foundation is built on rigidity then we are unable to yield or find harmony if the tides of life move against our plan. Thus we end up using all of our might straining to keep equilibrium and the fight inside drains our energy.

The courage we need to walk a new path, deal with intense emotions, process grief, accept loss and the other myriad of challenging experiences that life throws at us, all require deep courage.

We need the flexibility to allow and softness gives us the courage to move with the change and “hold our new pose.” It takes strength to release the things that we thought once were and move into a new unplanned direction. We need the softness of our hearts to access this strength.

The process of being brave also requires softness. A stone heart won’t serve you on your first date, networking with new friends, interviewing for that dream job or problem solving your life. In order to think outside the box we need to allow our walls to be a little fluid so that we can see our potential to push our boundaries. If our mindset tells us, “this is what is and this is what will always be.” then we leave no room to grow. There’s no space beyond for us to manifest more of what we want. In order to live into our aspirations and beyond where are in the now, we must have the malleability to think beyond where we stand in this moment.

Finally I think it’s imperative that we also remember the importance of cultivating softness for both ourselves and those we cherish. We need compassion in our relationships. In order to be present for another person sometimes the best thing is just allowing ourselves to show up for the other persons grief, longing, or rough day. It takes softness to listen without jumping in or sharing our opinion as well as to understand their journey without judgement. And it also takes empathy to have the courage to work through differences, see the other persons picture and yield to compromise.

In order to cultivate a higher relationship with ourselves it takes both gentleness and courage to be kind to our tender hearts. We need understanding to fearlessly accept who we are. Simultaneously we need flexibility to grow with change and stop our self-destructive habits like the brain loop of self-criticism. We cannot learn to love ourselves without both the tenderness of acceptance and the courage to try.

I’ll leave you with this final thought by one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown:

“Courage is like - it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue:

You get it by courageous acts

It’s like you learn to swim by swimming

You learn to courage by couraging”

And I say you learn to soft by softening….

Sending you Much Love and Light