The courage to love
Opening up to fear
I have been reflecting of late on the way that fear can create prisons for us, stopping us from doing things. It can prevent us from being open with other people and, at its extreme, stop us from finding enjoyment in our lives.
Often, part of the work clients do in therapy is to explore what it is that is stopping them from doing things they want to do, or being how they want to be. Once the feelings and thoughts that are getting in the way are openly acknowledged, they can begin to be explored. In this process, their hold begins to loosen, and we can move past them. It strikes me that this is what courage is, feeling fear and being with fearful thoughts, and moving forwards anyway.
I notice that one place that being courageous can be really tough is in relationships. Steve Gilligan's beautiful book 'The Courage to Love' explores this, and challenges the reader to be open hearted. He talks about the need to openly relate to ourselves, extending love and trust inwards, and seeing clearly. This open heartedness means that we can have courage; a willingness to be with whatever is true for us and to act from a grounded perspective.
Lao Tzu said:
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
The first step I believe is to deeply love yourself, and to acknowledge the strength and the courage that this brings. Once this is in place, fear becomes so much less compelling and the joy of life can once more begin to be felt.
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