It takes a great deal of courage to live life authentically. To live life on your own terms.
It often means challenging the status quo. Speaking up and asking for what you want and what you deserve. Being vulnerable.
And all of that takes courage.
But I think we often mistake courage for bravery, and I want to talk about that for a minute. First, let’s look at the distinction between courage and bravery.
Courage vs. Bravery
Brene Brown, in her Ted Talk, offered an old definition of courage that is my absolutely favorite way of viewing courage. She says that courage is defined as “telling the story of who you are with your whole heart”. Courage is simply about being as authentic and real and whole as you can in any given moment.
Bravery, on the other hand, is defined as the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.
I think we often confuse the two. In fact, some dictionaries even have the same meaning for both words. But having a distinction in your mind of how courage and bravery differ is important.
Courage without Bravery
When you’re clear about the definitions, you can begin to see that it is possible to have courage without needing to be brave. You can see that it is possible to show up as your authentic self without also needing to believe that showing up as your authentic self is something that is dangerous or frightening.
Because it’s often the believe that being your authentic self is dangerous or frightening that holds people back. You are afraid of what your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/mother/father/sister/best friend will think of you. You believe it’s dangerous to be your authentic self because people won’t understand you. Or won’t love you anymore. You’re afraid because you’ve been living the lie for so long that you aren’t even sure you will like you.
And with all of those beliefs, being brave is hard.
What might it look like if you let go of bravery. Let go of all of those beliefs that make the need to be brave real. And just for a moment had the courage to be your authentic self. Just for a moment, let yourself feel real feelings. Openly desire what you want from your life.
What might it be like if you let that single moment stretch into two moments. Then into a quarter of an hour. A half an hour. Before something happens and you retreat behind your mask.
What might it be like if you have the courage to try again. To simply be your authentic self for a moment. For longer. To keep practicing. To keep showing up differently, every time you notice your retreat behind your mask. What might it be like to tell the story of you you are from your whole heart in each and every moment of the day?
Do you have the courage to try again tomorrow?
“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