Strength vs Courage
Updated: Jan 20, 2018
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ― Brené Brown,
A few years ago, I was flying into Salt Lake from Nashville TN and stayed with one of my best friends before trecking my way home to Jackson. We did our typical evening of reconnecting by sitting on the couch until 2am talking and laughing our faces off. He is one of my dearest spiritual friends as we are both commited to a life of spiritual and personal growth, but as i left the next morning he handed me peice of paper that had this quote printed on it and said look this women up and read her book immediatly.
I stuffed it in my bag and headed back to Jackson. The next day, I had tea with another one my friends and as we were chatting she mentioned she was reading this really great book "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown and I should really check it out. It took me a minute to register, but it was the same lady that my friend David had mentioned. I pulled out the paper from my bag and showed my friend saying that David had just given this to me the previous day. Well it was a sign that I wasn't going to ignore, so I went and bought her book and read the whole thing in 2 days. Needless to say, her words were so powerful and poingent for me. I bought 2 of her other books and read them and then gave them as Christmas presents that year to every person in my family.
Now, a few years later, her words and message have never rang more true for me. I feel like I had absorbed the words and studied her worksheets and tried to apply her teachings in my life, but it wasn't until this fall that I truly had the experience of honest #vulnerability and #courage.
I was brought up in the backwoods of #Wyoming working right alongside my dad and all the cowboys. I was strong, strong enough to hang with the boys, bucking hay bales, building fence, riding broncs, throwing saddles and basically any manual labor that one would do on a ranch. I knew exactly what it took to be strong. I could fight, I had to in order to prove myself worthy and that I was just as capable as anyone else. I learned how to muscle through everything including my emotions using anger to cover my pain. But my spiritual journey over the past 10 years has opened the doors of awareness to how I cope with pain and shame.... I use anger and fear. So I knew I was strong, I could basically endure everything.(This is a great video about ENDURISM) But until this fall, did I really realize and experience what courage was. I thought strenght and courage were the same, but they are almost the opposites of each other.
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.
So the definition of courage and strength in the Marrium-Webster Dictionary is:
Definition of courage
2: the ability to do something that frightens one."she called on all her courage to face the ordeal"
3: strength in the face of pain or grief."he fought his illness with great courage"
Definition of strength
1: the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance
3: power of resisting attack : impregnability
I realized it took courage to be humble, to recieve love, to put your flaws out for the world to see, to be truly #vulnerable, and to live #authentically as your self. I attended a 2 month intensive program in Los Angeles for acting for film this past fall and didn't expect it to open me up to the raw real self that was hiding behind my seemingly strong appearence.
I had gone into the program after a 90 run performance as Molly in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" as well as ending an 8 year relationship, needless to say, my heart was ready for a change and open to whatever life was going to throw at me.
I had come together with a group of total strangers who knew nothing about me, where I came from, who my family was, what I did for a living, or what my beliefs aout life were. This was a clean slate. I could really be anybody I wanted to be. My guard was down, I didn't have to prove anything or defend myself in anyway, and what I found out was that my defense and strength had been sheilding my true self from coming forward to live authentically. What my ego self thought was protecting me was actually hurting me and hindering my ability to be ME!!!! The strangers started to become my friends as I felt unafraid and inhibited. What I thought was me creating a new version of me was actually just me accepting who I was and who that was felt really good. I was vulnerable enough to say yes to me…. Yes to my faults, yes to being imperfect, yes to not getting it right all the time, yes to being a little crazy and eccentric. I never felt so good. And because I started to do this, my love and compassion for others grew too. I didn’t realize that I had the capacity to love so much and so many people. I cultivated an understanding of others through knowing who I was and it felt so freeing and at the same time like I belonged like I was not alone. I had not realized how much I pushed others away because I pushed myself away. By being vulnerable and having the COURAGE to step into me, everything changed. I understood how much I was using my strength to try to keep up with who I thought I was being. But who I truly am has and always was there, I just thought I had to defend it. Not true….. By letting the chains of strength go and allowing the courage of who I am to come through I allowed the truest and most empowering self to unfold and shine.
Courage, I came to understand, was that very subtle moment before any choice. It’s that split second before your rational conditioned mind comes in to remind you of past painful experiences, to protect and defend. It's the intuitive part that says “this may feel hard, but once you step in, you’ll fly!” I had so often dismissed that subtle voice and went straight to the rational mind that was protecting me from my previous experienced pain. But what I was doing was keeping my authentic self from being exposed. I was keeping myself from actually experiencing life even if my choices let my heart hang out to be hurt again because it’s in the hurt that I can find healing. I was also keeping myself from being an authentic actor and story teller. It’s so subtle that I almost didn’t recognize it, but once I glimpsed it, I got much better at being able to use it. And the more I used it, the stronger my courage became.
It takes profound courage to step into who you are, to be different, to be the unicorn. Courage is rare. We have all been conditioned to be strong and guard and protect ourselves so stepping into the courageous part of you takes practice and awareness, but it’s so worth it, it’s true #FREEDOM.
So today choose to be courageous because life isn’t meant to be lived behind shields and facades, it’s meant to be lived like bright shining stars, like a supernova.