Do You Know How I Know You Can Do This?

Whatever “this” is.

Courage, 3d cartoon mouse  with a lion

That may seem quite the blanket statement, and in reality, is.  But I’ve seen people tackle the most incredibly obstacles, even in the face of certain failure, and prevail.

We all have, no?  How many heroes can you point to?  Of both sexes.  And often they’re not folks who chose to enter an arena of whatever sort, but rather were forced to face the beast that jumped into the path before them.  And, which just as in myths and stories, mirrored the shadow monster within.

It takes courage.  And that courage resides within us.  You are the hero of your own Quest.  Whether you will rise up and be that hero, is up to you.  But, into my soul, I know you can do this.

As the noted psychologist Carl Jung said, the shadow consists of morally objectionable tendencies, as well as a number of constructive qualities, that we are reluctant to face.  In order to truly live, we must continually strive to know our shadows and this is our first test of courage It is easier to project this dark side, which we refuse to see in ourselves, onto others.

I had the most delightful “spirited debate” the other day with a good male friend of mine.  Some would have called it an argument (I think that was his wife’s take!).  But we were discussing courage (or, more to the point, the lack of it) exhibited by a young woman we both know well.

And he said (I am not making this up), “Women do not have the courage that men do.”  Yes, I still love him 🙂   But of course all one need do is say something of this nature to me, and off we go.

Then he had the insane follow up of: “Myers-Briggs bears this out.”

I had to pick myself up after falling off my perch hooting before I could respond!  Because Myers-Briggs is of course based on the work of Carl Jung.  Of whom I’m fairly well versed!  The test itself says nothing about men vs. women in the courage department, but Jung sure did.

On this note:  Anima, the feminine side of men, originates in the collective unconscious as an archetype and remains extremely resistant to consciousness.

Few men become well acquainted with the anima because this task requires great courage and is even more difficult to become acquainted with than their shadow. Again, this was Jung’s take J

Women, Jung found, do not have the same lack of courage about facing the animus within.

But I digress!

Here’s the thing.  We often equate “courage” with risk taking—rock climbing Mt St. Helens or something of the like.  And where that indeed may require courage, it’s not what courage is about.

Heroes are actually not thrill seekers.  In a study by Levenson published in 1990, heroes scored significantly lower than other risk takers (e.g. rock climbers and drug-rehabilitation-unit residents) on measurements of general sensation-seeking and experience-seeking.

So, just because someone runs with the bulls doesn’t make him heroic.

The original definition of courage comes from the old French “corage,” which means “heart and spirit.”

Doesn’t that put it in a different perspective?  Courage is a matter of heart, it’s a matter of spirit.  And I would suggest, one of pure soul as well.   As Abraham Lincoln said, I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.

And we all have that light within us.  It’s a choice whether we muster it up and do the thing life asks of us.  Even if met by past failures, we can choose differently next time.

I know I can do this.  I’ve done it.  And so have you.

Think back to that time when in the space of real fear, when the lion was charging, and you stood your ground and faced it.  Whatever that beast might have been—within, without, and probably both.  That’s courage.

You’ve done it before.  And I know you can do it again.




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