“We all wind up drawn to what we’re afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” ― Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Ever since beginning my journey to become a great life coach there has been one word that keeps swirling around me. I had not ever heard this word and my name spoken in the same sentence before my journey but I hear this word quite often since embarking on my journey. One word that I never in all my life would associate with describing who I am; one word that sounds so empowering and makes everything so possible and yet it has been a word I have been afraid of my whole life. I heard it yet again a day ago in relationship to me and I had to just sit very still and really think about all the times where this word has shown itself in my life and wonder why I just haven’t made the connection. Why does this word strike such fear inside of me?
Before I reveal the word let me ask you this question:
In your lifetime in what circumstance have you ever wished you could see yourself the way other people see you?
This could be in a good light or a not so good light. This could be on your “best foot forward” day or your “I wish I stayed in bed today” day. This could be in a spiritual way meaning wanting to see yourself as God sees you but not being able to do so.
Many times I have wished I could see in me what other people see in me. I absolutely believe that if I had the “knowing” of what other people believe I can be or what they think I already am then I could conquer the world. I believe this because of the one thing I know about myself most of all and that is that I hate to let people down.
It’s not really a people pleasing knowing that I have about who I am it’s more of a challenge I adopt within my heart that pushes me to do and become simply because someone I trust and admire has a knowing about me, an insight about me that I never allowed or truly saw in my own self. There is a becoming about me that other people see whether it is in the form of who I am becoming or that I am becoming in appearance or in a spiritual sense.
I find this quote so universal and so important. What does someone see in each of us that we hide from our own selves? What disappears from within us that we believe is gone or never existed yet another person can see as if it were part of our face or skin or clothing? Something someone else sees but knows that we don’t so it appears to have disappeared but is not truly gone. It’s kind of a version of faith; to walk in the trust of what is unseen.
What holds each of us back from becoming who we are meant to be or who we want to be?
The dictionary defines the word becoming as:
- Flattering a person’s appearance
- The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state or any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality
We are all in such a rush to “get there” wherever there is that we forget or choose not to stop and listen and see that in order to become we must slow down and be the word that has been swirling around me….courageous. Using the word courage is how people have been describing me for the past 3-1/2 years and it comes up so often that I can’t ignore it anymore. I still don’t see it when looking through my own eyes but I absolutely must see what other people see if I am to become what they believe me to be; what their faith in me speaks to them.
Where does courage show up for me? Courage shows up when I am vulnerable, when I admit I don’t know something and can open my heart to receiving help and guidance, when I am asked to face a fear and work through it in the truth of not wanting to face the person inside of me who is saying, “Walk away from this. You don’t have to face this.” Courage shows up when life gets really, raw-ly emotional for me and I have to stand and face that painful dragon and slay it. Courage shows up when someone hears a piece of my story and their take away is the courage they heard in my voice and in my words when I never felt courageous at all while going through it.
What has happened inside of my heart is that by hearing the word courageous associated with me the person and me the spirit I have created a trail behind me that I want to always remain and lead me home. I am starting to believe in this crazy word. I may not yet fully associate courage with who I am but I like what other people are seeing in my becoming and I don’t want to let them or myself down. I want to keep exploring this empowering feeling and word and see what I can see as I go along creating my truth and building self-trust.
In her book Daring Greatly, author and scientist Dr. Brene` Brown said this when describing herself through vulnerability, courage and allowing herself to see what other people see in her:
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I had no idea that in each life moment where I stood up and plowed through a fear I was courageous and vulnerable and revealing a truth about who I am deep inside, yet other people could see it in me all along.
Dr. Brown goes on to say:
“All the love and support I received allowed me to slowly begin to take more risks, to show up at work and at home in new ways. I took more chances and tried new things.” Because of each conquest I had made that lay behind me I was unknowingly building strength and empowerment toward the next big thing. And each time I was in a situation to tell my story there came that word again, courage.
What I’ve ultimately learned is that by sharing my stories where I unknowingly showed courage I have been able to allow those listeners to imagine themselves facing the same fears and making it through on their own way toward becoming their best selves.
Here is what I’ve learned so far about the incredible walk I’ve been taking toward my own becoming….
Trust: Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your sincerity and integrity. Trust that although the process might take a lifetime, each step is for and toward a purpose. There is no rush toward becoming whatever you want to become or whoever you want to become because each level you reach is a level you needed to obtain in order to keep going forward. It may not be for you in the end, it may be for someone else entirely, keep going.
“Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from ‘Instructions’)” ― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Believe in your value: For me the word courage is truly a value in action. I’ve shared with you before about how our values show up in our lives whether intentionally or magically. Knowing what your values are is a very strong and empowering step in your becoming. When I first took the test to determine my top 5 values out of the 24 values we all carry within us, courage was somewhere in the middle. Recently I was asked to take the test again and surprisingly courage appeared in my top five. I just shake my head. I had no idea how strongly courage has played a role in my life until I decided to dedicate myself to finding my life.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Sight: This is a tough one. It is far easier to hide from the truth of what we see in our own soul than to admit the vulnerability and the blessing in bringing it to light. I can recall many times in my life when I hid from my own self in order to not face my own truth. What I’ve learned is that life does not exist in the places we choose not to see. Life can only exist in bringing forward all the messy, mixed up, odd, weirdness’s that make up who we are. I have taken action steps with the utmost of integrity and seen first-hand the power those steps have created. Take what you see from within your own soul, the person you see that you want to be and take that first step with integrity toward that unique and wondrous person. The people in your world will thank you for it and your heart will grow and your eyes will see what can’t be seen because your heart will grow.
“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Courage: I can’t think of a better word than this. To have courage means to exercise your will to accomplish goals you set for yourself in the face of opposition, whether it is an external opposition or internal opposition. Another way to look at this is in the word bravery. According to professors and authors, the late Christopher Peterson and current University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, their book Character Strengths and Virtues talks about bravery as the “ability to do what needs to be done despite fear. Beyond the domain of battle on a battlefield, bravery allows for this character strength to be applied by not only saying or doing the unpopular but correct thing but in also facing terminal illness with equanimity and to resisting peer pressure regarding a morally questionable shortcut.” To this I would add that it also takes meaning in any act large or small where we are running through our own internal fears of whatever we have chosen to face head on.
For example: When I was tasked at my temp job to create an excel chart and maintenance form I panicked. I don’t do excel well at all. The challenge before me was to get the task done and done very well. I enlisted the help of a colleague to teach me some basic things and then I took it from there. I refused to leave for the day until the bulk of the work was done. That was my internal opposition. It took all kinds of crazy courage to meet the challenge of fear that excel symbolizes for me but I did it. Did I feel courageous? No. Did I feel successful in the end? Yes. Would I choose to take on another excel project? Oh hell No. Did I prove I could do it and so I could do it again? Yes. Ultimately what stayed inside of me, what I see now, is that when courage is needed I enlist, without thought. When my kids would get hurt and cry in pain I surprised myself every time by not panicking. I stayed even tempered, quiet, calm and loving for them and later when they were back to their playful, happy, bouncy selves I let out a deep breath and cried a little.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ― E.E. Cummings
Take some time to really, deeply think about your own character strengths and values; listen to how often a particular value comes up in your life; allow yourself to see where you are being an example day after day of this character strength and value. Believe what can’t be seen by you alone. That is faith, and that is having a knowing that you are indeed becoming as you walk through your purposes in life.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Call to Action
What are some of your core values often hidden but revealed in patterns of your behavior?
What would it take to acknowledge, out loud, in every way of your everyday those hidden core values?
When do you find yourself becoming your most “real” self?
In what ways have you been seen by others as real, as honest, as courageous, as vulnerable but did not allow yourself to see those truths within you?
In an effort to practice seeing those things we choose not to see or just can’t see, ask yourself just one of these questions every day and really dive into your day and all its glory. Then in whatever fashion helps you to express your answer use it. It could be journaling, praying, talking to a friend, coach or partner. The questions are:
What went right today?
What left you filled with awe today?
Where did your heart lead you today?
Where or in whom did I find inspiration today?