Of all the qualities that are needed in the creation of a great relationship, “courage” or “fearlessness” is the one that we would put at the top of the list.
The creation of a strong foundation in any relationship requires the willingness to disarm ourselves of some of the defenses that we have learned and practiced over the years. While these defenses may have served us to prevent or minimize emotional pain, they may have inhibited our ability to experience fulfilling connections with others. Becoming non-defensive requires fearlessness, since it seems to put us at greater risk of emotional pain.
The dictionary refers to “fearlessness” and ‘courage” as being synonymous with each other. It defines “courage” as “the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.” Note that there is nothing there about not having fear. It suggests, that you can only be fearless or courageous if you have fear.
The Chinese term for “courage” is comprised of five characters which represent: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Now that we’ve gotten straight what courage is and isn’t, let’s look a little more deeply into its meaning and origins. The word “courage” has its origin in the French word “coeur,” from the Latin, “cor,” both of which mean “heart.”
To be fearless, we must lead from the truth of our heart, rather from the fear in our mind. This does not negate the possible dangers that may lie in front of us, but rather that we make a conscious choice about what action can best represent our heart’s current desire. It does not mean that we react recklessly but that we proceed consciously, taking responsibility for our actions.
When we feel threatened in a relationship, it takes courage to resist the temptation to become defensive and to instead become fearless. The late, great spiritual teacher Stephen Levine called this “Keeping your heart open in hell.”
We can’t help but feel fear when we feel threatened, but we can determine how we respond. Honoring our deeper intentions rather than indulging our impulses to withdraw or attack will strengthen our courage muscle.
While there unquestionably are people to whom it would be unwise to expose our vulnerability, there are also dangers in bringing suspicion rather than curiosity and open-mindedness iinto our interactions. This attitude promotes rather than diminishes fear.
When our desire for something is strong, we are more likely to find the willingness to step into our fear, rather than to withdraw from the challenge of facing it. When our desire to experience something is strong and passionate and the expected rewards are high, we can commit ourselves to going forward even in the face of fear. We don’t necessarily begin with a brave heart; we develop it along the way. We begin wherever we are right now and move forward one step at a time.
See the original blog on Mari L. McCarthy blog site Create Write Now!