I recently read a quote by Brené Brown about courage that really spoke to me and touched my heart. So I wanted to share my thoughts on the quote.
“The root of the word courage is cor- the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world that’s pretty extraordinary. – Brené Brown”
Being vulnerable these days is so rare. People put on an act, a façade, due to the fact they think their emotions aren’t worth being shared. We always have to have it together and be okay these days. We aren’t honest to those around us, and so then aren’t honest to ourselves, because we are shutting our feelings off. It’s okay to not be okay! The true people who care about us will support us and listen. This goes for men and women, for everyone! It’s scary to open up and be real, but truth is rare and important. There is a difference too in being completely vulnerable and real, and then just talking about how you feel. My dad recently talked about this comparison with me…. A lot of our society circles around me, me, me…. Very self centered and selfish. I feel though, the difference is when you are open and vulnerable and share how you are feeling, you are scared. You’re sharing an opinion that might not get the best response, but you are not letting yourself stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and you’re willing to take that risk. There could be backlash, people may not like what you have to say, it might even anger people. The people who truly care about you though will band around you and support you, AND in their time of vulnerability you’ll be there for them as well. You know the feeling of being supported and appreciate it so you want to return the love and gesture.
One of the worst things to live with in my opinion is regret. Living with the feeling of what if….. What if I had said how I truly felt about that person, that situation? What if I had shared how I was feeling in the moment? What if I had stood up for what I believed was right? Would things have turned out differently? Having those questions swirl around in your head do nothing except destroy your security and your self-confidence plummets. You second-guess yourself and how amazing of a person you are. You can’t do that… please don’t do that. Everyone is so unique and beautiful in their own special way; no one should ever question their worth. I know however, this does happen often because I struggle with this. I also struggle with wanting to be deep in my realness and not just talk about me. To share my emotions, but also be there for others. Be courageous and speak your mind and your heart. Share your true self and don’t be afraid of what people will say after because the people that really matter I believe will hear you.
Little honesty story for you here…. I have been living with regret every day for a while now. I regret not telling a certain person how I truly felt about them when I had the chance. I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome in the end, but I wouldn’t have been left with this gnawing what if feeling I have now. There are so many things about that relationship that I am so glad happened, and I stepped out of my comfort zone pretty much completely, except for one aspect. I didn’t tell that person how I truly felt about them. I got nervous in the moment and second-guessed myself, and now I live with the what if every day. I have never been in love before and those new emotions I had for that person frightened me. I should have shared, but didn’t. Don’t do that, don’t second-guess yourself and your feelings ever. Your feelings are so precious and important and you should feel safe and secure enough to share them. Don’t ever feel like your thoughts or how you truly feel are not worth sharing.
Heroic actions are definitely things to be lauded and acknowledged. We all need those brave courageous people who are willing to take on perilous situations to help those around them. Our society needs heroes fighting for the good of everyone. Our society and world however, also needs those everyday people like you and me that might not be destined to do something huge and heroic. We however, are needed each day to be truthful and real, caring, kind and loving. Being real and honest with your emotions and thoughts in a society full of perfection and materialism is courageous to me. It takes a lot to be “different” from others. To be okay with maybe being labeled as “weird” by people because you are different from all those around you. My favorite retort back to that would be “I’d rather be weird than normal, thank you for noticing my uniqueness!” I figure if we are okay with our realness and “weirdness” when people try to use those against us they can’t due to the fact we own our own person. We are secure in ourselves and don’t let other people’s negativities phase us.
So I might not be able to go back in time to tell that person how I truly feel about them, but I can learn from that moment. I use it as a daily reminder to myself to share how I’m feeling. To be true to myself and stand up for the emotions I am feeling. Be vulnerable… that is freaking scary I know. It’s so scary to open up and be truthful and real and raw, but I can tell you from experience it is so rewarding! You aren’t faced with the regret of not being true and real to yourself…. You aren’t faced with the “would it have been different..” scenario. You feel pride in your actions, because you stood up for yourself and how you feel. You took a stand for YOU and that is true courage to me!
You don’t need to be Super Man to be a hero and courageous. You don’t need super human strength or the power of flight to be labeled as brave. You can be a hero by just standing up for what you believe is right in your every day life. You can be brave and courageous by telling those around you how you are truly feeling. You are full of courage when you are vulnerable, real, and raw. Be yourself because there is no one else out there quite like you. Share and care and love….. And know that the people who truly care about you and are real as well will listen to you, and be there for you. You are never truly alone.
Brown, B., Ph.D. (2007). I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame. Gotham Books. doi:https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/737201-courage-is-a-heart-word-the-root-of-the-word
Photo by Michael Holt