How to Be Courageous

courageDid you know that the word courage is derived from the French word, ceour? I found out from Angeles Arrien’s book, The Four-Fold Way that courage, etymologically means “the ability to stand by one’s own heart or stand by one’s core.”

I’ve been understudying the role of Observer quite a bit lately. The regular gal being on a secret mission on an unnamed island in the South Pacific (but that’s another story).

What I’ve observed is that it’s quite common (almost pedestrian) for us humans to be lacking in courage. And yes, I do mean that we as a species seem to be quite unwilling and unskilled at this “standing by one’s own heart” thing. I mean, it took me 37 years to begin to nibble at what my core even was!

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How Many Posts Can We Do About Love: 6

Love Without Courage is Cruel and Meaningless

love_courageGot you to keep reading, right? I struggled with whether to start this post with that headline… it being so biting and all. But a friend of mine encouraged me by saying, “Even the Buddha met people where they were.” I have to be real enough about myself (see love post #3) to admit and address the fact that I’m not always on the sunny side of love. And actually, I think that the inspiring flip side of that statement, “Real love is courageous” is about just that: having the courage enough to be REAL.

It’s easy to “love” when everything is good. When your kids are cooperating and being their best angel selves. But how about when they are screaming bloody murder at the mall? Is a fair weather friend really a friend? If not, how do you encourage your children to be more than that? How do you encourage your kids to be real? By being brave enough to allow and accept them for who they are regardless of how they are behaving. AND by being brave enough to accept YOURSELF.

For many years, I put my own mom up on a pedestal. Because of our unusual circumstances, I basically was not around her that much after the age of 13. As you can imagine, my mental image of her was completely skewed and inaccurate. She was the mom that tucked me in at night and snuggled in bed with me and made up fantastic bedtime stories. That’s it! She was like the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio. She was Annie’s real mom (a fantasy!) Of course, it wasn’t her fault that I didn’t get to see her be REAL. When I became a mom myself, I held myself to that standard and… it was ridiculous. Every time I would lose my patience or get angry, it would spiral into self-doubt about me and my motherhood. I was so afraid that someone, i.e., my kids would realize I was a less-than-perfect mommy.

It was my sister who let me off the hook! She is blessed and cursed with a much more complicated relationship with mom. But through her eyes I realized that I was no better or worse than her. My mom, me, you… we are both just ordinary, real people doing the best we can.

Being real, showing up in relationships, requires courage because you have to do the scariest thing: allow yourself to be vulnerable.

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Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.