Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Healing PTSD: Courage, Baby, Courage

Getting back to Mark Twain, let’s take a look at the role of courage in the commitment mix. It’s easier to remain committed when we feel strongly supported in our actions by a deep resolve within.

But where does that resolve come from? Sometimes our introduction to our own courage comes from an external source, like it did for me. But in our healing journey we can’t depend on anything outside of ourselves to support us or to give us “a quality of spirit that enables [us] to face danger or pain without showing fear”. If we have an external source of courage, that’s great. But lacking that, we must create our own source.

Take a minute to think about where your courage comes from. We all have it, that quiet reserve of strength that, like the good set of china, we keep tucked away for a special occasion. Well, kids, healing PTSD is that special occasion. It’s time to dust off that courage, take it out, set it on the table, polish it up and prepare to allow its beautiful presence to infuse your ordinary day with extraordinary beauty.

If you can’t pinpoint the source of your courage – no problem! Map its source right now. Think back to times in your life when you felt courageous. What made you feel the swell of courage then? Make a list of elements, characteristics, traits, actions, and emotions surrounding that memory. Set a timer for 5 minutes. List as many qualities as you can until the time runs out. Then, read over the list. Which examples do you value most? Congratulations! These are all part of you. We hold an endless reservoir of courage in ourselves. It does not get used up. If you accessed courage once, you can do it again. Take a long look at the list you just made; this is who you are. That you don’t feel this way in the moment is irrelevant. This is your potential. You were this once; you can be again. Walk around today reminding yourself of the things on the list. Say to yourself, ‘I am ____________”. In this BRIDGE THE GAP rediscovery process it’s important for you to recognize the strength you do inherently possess. And then to begin to exude it. Life’s daily challenges give us plenty of opportunities to flex the muscle of the qualities that support, enhance or signal the presence of courage. Find them in each day. Practice your connection to your courage. Make locating and utilizing it as simple as a habit and it will support you in all the things you set your mind to do.

Don’t have any memories that showcase your courageous self? No sweat. Take a look around. Who do you know (or know of) that exhibits courage? Think of real life stories of those around you; think of characters in books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen. Think of celebrities, journalists, people in the public eye. Choose a figure who embodies courage as you perceive it. Now, take some time to make a list of the courageous qualities that person exhibits. What are they? When you clearly see what qualities you admire you can begin to adopt them yourself. Each day you will bump into opportunities to develop a quiet strength, an outspoken energy, a dogged pursuit of what’s right despite the cost to yourself – whatever makes up the definition of courage to you. Look for these chances to call up your courage from within. When we get in the habit of connecting with this part of ourselves on a small scale it’s easier to engage it during those times we really need it, like, say, turning our back on the past and bravely marching into an uncharted future.

To give you added inspiration – words of courage from sources who know something about it:

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death. ~Harold Wilson

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says... I'll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey

Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway. ~Robert Anthony

Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it. ~Tori Amos

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Courage is not defined by those who fought and did not fall, but by those who fought, fell and rose again. ~Anonymous

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing. ~Anonymous

True courage is not the absence of fear -- but the willingness to proceed in spite of it. ~Anonymous

(photo: elvy)

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