I used to be far more cowardly with my heart than I am these days. I was courageous in other ways. I did take risks and I did accomplish and experience quite a bit. But I remained a scared little girl afraid to really explore my heart and open up in many ways. In the last few years, though, I’ve displayed a level of emotional courage and inner strength I have never seen in myself before. Although, there is always more bravery to tap into on this journey, I have come a long way and continue to challenge myself in this area. I really believe that courage is essential to a rich life experience and courage of the heart is essential to our happiness. This kind of courage means taking the risk to feel what isn’t fun, to express how you feel to someone, to share your love, and to be vulnerable. There are so many people who display courage in building their dreams of successful businesses and such, but not many who display courage of the heart. It’s a deep down kind of bravery in the face of the ego’s fear. The ego never wants you to seem weak and it will tell you that displaying emotion or opening up in vulnerability is for the weak and others will look at you as pathetic or silly. Then it convinces you that it’s better to wear a mask and deceive others into believing the false self you project is the actual you. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s time for us to experience our freedom and to live from an emotionally riskier space within us.
But what do we gain from opening our hearts and living from that openness? Well, it’s the difference between living a small life and living out loud. I have a favorite poem that stays up on my wall by Dawna Markova. I love it because I can feel her intention to really engage with life and I find myself proclaiming it along with her. Here it is:
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
For me, this is the reason to develop courage of the heart, in order not to die an unlived life. I have a deep desire not to waste the amazing gift of fully feeling myself in the physical world and creating an experience of freedom that only comes from transcending fear. I’ve heard it said before that on the other side of fear is freedom, so I know that when I choose not to play it safe emotionally I will move through a layer around my heart that expands it and expands my entire life. We live in an ever expanding Universe so how can we be in concert with it when we are always restricted and shrinking? We have a purpose to expand with it and create more from a deeper place within us. This requires us to be courageous and risk our most protected possession, our heart.
We’ve become a society that values the protection and defense of the heart so much so that what should be natural to us has become unnatural. Then when we find ourselves entering into a space with someone who is openly loving, we say they’re strange and think something is wrong with them. This is our fear rearing its ugly head. Fear of losing our protection, of not being good enough, of not feeling worthy of love. Although we’re a society craving to experience connection and love, we shun it and value individuality and independence above all else. To connect to someone in love, to open our hearts, look them in the eyes and be vulnerable is to risk the loss of what we’ve come to believe is ourselves. The truth is that it is really the risk of losing the sense of separation that we are convinced is our safety. We should welcome that loss gladly because what we gain is tremendous and moves our inner and outer lives into greater places than we could imagine.
Courage is an act of faith. Emotional courage is an act of faith that rejection isn’t real and love is all there is. Maybe then we should call it spiritual courage as well. The courage to see ourselves and others as we truly are, and to realize that our safety lies in our ability to trust a greater truth than what our negative mental programs and limiting beliefs tell us is real. This truth is about the healing power of connection and love, which is only allowed through the undefending of our hearts. Our fear is usually about what will happen as a result of opening ourselves in this way. Truly, though, if someone puts us down or judges us because we’ve been vulnerable with our hearts, this says more about them than us. Actually it says we are strong and brave and willing to live large lives. It says that they are most likely still living in fear. If we experience what we call a rejection when we’ve bared our heart to someone, then we’re believing that something outside of us holds the key to our happiness. When we become more interested in how we’re showing up than in the response we get, then we know we believe nothing external can create our inner sense of well being. How much more empowering can it get than knowing you are in total control of your happiness and peace?
I choose to live a no regret sort of life. This means that often times I do and say things that most would think are emotionally bold and maybe a bit crazy. I’m okay with that. I have, on many occasions, asked myself if I would look back and regret not having shared myself with someone or explored some corner of my heart. Most of the time the answer is yes, so I push through that fear and I allow myself to be seen so I can heal my heart and hopefully another in the process as well.
So, today I ask you to ponder how you can display more courage of the heart. Are you willing to risk your false sense of safety in order to engage with life more fully? My sincere belief is that you will find it worth the risk when you feel your heart expand and grow and connect in ways that fill you with a joy few things in this world will ever have the power to do.