What is this blog about?

There is no such thing as an expert on the topic of Life. We all have had our battles, our suffering, and our questions. Despite the uniqueness of our personal obstacles, we have endured them. We have endured them well enough to advise those behind us as to how to do the same. I have done the research on your behalf regarding the multitude of reasons why wisdom exists. My mission is to utilize the voices of the world's greatest thinkers and heroes to compose a guideline of life's wisdom so that you don't have to experience those trials alone.

If you have any questions, please tweet them to me @JoeSielski or email me at JJSielskiJr@comcast.net

(Please title your email with the word "Wisdom" so I know it will be for this blog.)

I will do my best to try and answer every question as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thanks.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Day for Courage



I was originally going to call this essay "A Day without Fear," however when referencing courage, too many voices have been quoted acknowledging that fear is not entirely absent... and for good measure.

For example:   "The courageous are not absent of fear, they are intimate with it."  [Buddha]

So, what is fear?

(I made a  poster to illustrate the definition)



Once again:  Fear is the expectation that our vulnerability or insecurity will become exposed without our permission.  Courage, from the French 'coeur' for heart, is the willingness to reveal those insecurities by ourselves.   Courage begins with a choice.

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest." [Maya Angelou]

Most of what composes fear is imaginary.  We imagine things, we imagine results, we imagine consequences and then we fear them.  We imagine future outcomes for present circumstances; and if that expectation threatens a core example of our vulnerability, it becomes tremendously stressful.  We fear that discomfort.  We will do anything and everything in our power to avoid having to feel it.  Physical pain, feelings of grief/loss, embarrassment, even financial stress can all qualify as examples of these states of duress that we might attempt to avoid.  However, much of what life is, is our ability to tolerate the discomfort.  Fear happens, but you can cope with it; you can nurse yourself through it.  All will be well in the end.  Our fears are born in the ego because expectations themselves originate in the ego.   I've mentioned the danger of expectations before in former essays on both Anger and Forgiveness.  Expectations are detrimental because they rob you of the present moment.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace you are living in the present."
 [Lao Tzu]

"If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.   If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.  There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever."    [Dalai Lama]

Courage requires that we delve into our hearts and understand the origins of our fear.  It trains us to begin to comprehend our innermost insecurities and thoughts.  When it comes to matters of the mind: thoughts, emotions, motivations, fear, etc, you know who you are inside.  Only you can know.   You are the authority on your own mind.   You are the only observer of your inner monologue.  Therefore, not only do you know what the fear is, you also know what insecurity it threatens.  Unfortunately most people are too reluctant to push beyond the agitation of self-reflection, and most people are too engulfed in denial to even consider that.  Since the nature of courage defaults us to be introspective, courage requires honesty.  In many courageous tasks of a physical sense, the honesty is the understanding that only we can motivate ourselves.  Also, only we can perform these tasks for our own sake.  Regarding social fears, we're afraid to be honest because we're afraid of the feelings of disapproval.  Often, we convince ourselves to fear the truth, when we're not even afraid of the truth at all.  In actuality, what we fear are the consequences of our honesty; and sadly, we develop a reluctance to be honest.


Either way, courage still begins with a choice.   Having inner skeletons is normal, but if you choose to not challenge them, they stay there.  In my own life, I have held onto fears because they kept me feeling safe. However, it only provided an illusion of safety.  Fear is a very personal facet of the psyche.  For me, I had developed an attachment to the fear itself.  Because I chose to not allow myself to push through the discomfort, I remained comfortable.  I remained complacent.  I had myself convinced that things were simply easier this way.  This state of comfort is easy, but it prevents the spirit of risk and the potential for both growth and confidence.  There are many people who would rather stay within their comfort zones simply because it's easier.  That alone is a frightening concept.  

Is there such a thing as our greatest fear in life?

According to Marianne Williamson, it's the following: 
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Her opinion agrees with the notion that our greatest fear is a consequence of our honesty.   Generally, that fear revolves around any negative feedback we might experience during our pursuit of dreams.  There are natural consequences we would face once we decide to pursue our fully-realized Self.  Some will be good, and some might be bad; both of which are irrelevant.  It is your responsibility to be honest with yourself anyway and tolerate any discomfort therein.  Much of the fear that Marianne described is manifested as a form of reluctance to bloom.  This unfortunately forces many people to pursue the act of masking/dimming one's light instead.
 
In literature, in poems, and in music, this "light" has also been described as one's spark, flame, fire, nerve, drive, motivation, passions, sense of self, and of course:  courage.  I hope that by now you were able to conclude that this Light is a metaphor for courage.  We protect it because we fear it shining too bright.  Once again, this is a fear of negative feedback.  This fear of the light can prompt us to want to conceal it.  Most people do.  Most people consciously prevent themselves from shining.  That thought is simply not worth the energy.  Even when hidden, even if it's denied; the truth still exists.  Eventually, it will make itself known.  If that light is something we don't want to face, hiding it will not eradicate it.  That light is the courage to seek one's happiness.  That journey can be terrifying... oh, well!  Do it anyway! 




Let's face it, our greatest fear is suffering. The fear of pain, the fear of embarrassment, or any of the phobias all cause us to suffer from anxiety and grief.  When we don't take risks to challenge fear, we develop a state of self-complacency.  Because the ego loves attachment, we also develop an attachment this state of complacency.  It's easy, it's comfortable, and it's not worth deviating from it...the ego whispers.  Most of what we fear is the threat of the separation from this comfort zone.  We fear the potential grief of becoming divided from the comfort zone that protects our innermost security. 
 

"A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears." [Michel de Montaigne]

At its core, fear is simply a feeling.   We fear the loss of happiness and love.  These are feelings that we have associated with people/objects .   We fear becoming embarrassed or confused, we even fear physical pain.   These are feelings.  These are all feelings.  The ego attaches feelings to various entities.  The only thing the ego can do is to attach feelings to anything we can experience.  This grants the ego an ability to convolute our perspective of the world. Therefore, the presence of fear keeps the ego leeched onto us. 

Choose to take a risk today.  Choose to break out of the comfort zone.  Choose to admit your vulnerability.  Choose to address it, to embrace it, and to own it as yours.  Choose to be the authority of your insecurity.  Choose to be honest, because the truth shall set you free.

You have a voice!  You have a presence!   You are here, so be here and be here now!

Choose to let your light shine today.  



"Hide it under a bushel? No!  I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!"



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