When I think about courage, I’m reminded of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. In the years after the movie debuted, there was discussion that the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man were each a sliver of Dorothy that she needed to discover. The lion was “granted courage” but he had it inside of him the entire time.
And so do I. So do you. The trouble is that we forget. Or, we tell ourselves that we don’t have courage. We see it as rarely attainable. We compare ourselves to other people, and whenever we start comparing, it’s a downward spiral. If you look up courage, here’s what you’ll find: courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. When was the last time you persevered? Faced fear? That’s courage.
Reflection on the times we’ve had courage isn’t something we routinely do, at least not something I do. For me, reflection is a walk down the trail of tears. The ways that I’ve failed, disappointed, fallen short. My ability to go down that path is remarkable, and my tendency is to hold myself responsible for all the ills in my life.
What I do not do is look back and acknowledge the ways that I’ve been courageous. That I’ve persevered. Acknowledging what’s been accomplished in spite of challenges. In fact, I feel slightly paralyzed whenever I’m asked about those times. I tend to minimize them in my mind. I brush past other people’s comments about them.
Courage doesn’t have to be an action that is heroic. We get confused about that sometimes. The “use it in a sentence,” part of our brain thinks that courage is not attained by the ordinary person. But I’d disagree. Courage is an individual act, but while it does impact us individual, impact our hearts, it also impacts other people.
Courage is having a hard conversation with someone you love.
Courage is admitting when you were wrong.
Courage is continuing to show up every day when you have chronic pain.
Courage is reaching out to a friend who has hurt you…or whom you’ve hurt.
Courage is continuing to try and have a baby after suffering loss.
Courage is coming along side a friend in need and simply sitting, listening, loving.
I believe courage is within each of us. Appreciating yourself in and of itself could be an act of courage. You might be conditioned, like I’ve done to myself, to brush past it. But you work your butt off every single day to show up well. To do a good job, to engage well in your relationships, to accomplish your goals. You’ve persevered through tough times, that’s courage. You’ve had hard conversations, that’s courage. You show up, day after day, and keep going even when you’d rather curl up in bed, that’s courage.
What can you do today to remember that you’re not the Cowardly Lion? That you have courage within you, even if you’ve forgotten about it, it’s there. It’s been with you throughout life. Today, think about those times and use it as a source of strength. You are strong, you are courageous, you are brave.