I recently decided to start a podcast to explore the topic of Truth. In my mind as I currently have it, this will be a six-part series entirely focused on the workings of the inner voice. Below is the transcript for episode 3. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.
Transcript to the Podcast:
Episode 4: Courage
Hello! Welcome back to Always Say the Unsaid. My name is Maria, and this is a podcast about exploring the topic of truth and authenticity, particularly when it comes to being true to one’s self.
I took a small break from the last episode because this topic that I intend to speak about today, the subject of courage, is just so big. And intimidating, and huge and I feel a little imposter syndrome just sitting here thinking about talking about it… Honestly, it gives me a little anxiety. But, if I’m going to talk about courage, I need to actually demonstrate courage to myself, and go ahead and communicate the things that I feel are important to communicate. As in, to say the unsaid….
So let’s begin.
This may already be obvious, but courage is important to, and in fact necessary for, the process of becoming wholly authentic. Without courage we cannot ever freely be ourselves. Being freely ourselves is a freaking scary thing sometimes…. or even most times…. and it requires courage to set those fears aside in order to be nakedly, truthfully who we are meant to be.
I do seriously feel like I should admonish myself for even talking about this, because I know there are so many instances in my life, probably even the majority of my life, when I have not been courageously me; when I have hidden my true self because I thought it would make someone else happy or more at ease. It’s even happened just this very week.
But if acknowledgement is half the battle, I can at least be courageous enough to admit that this is one area where I falter, and acknowledge it as a weakness… and with a positive outlook, look forward to the courageous changes that are to come.
Courage is not the same as strength, I want to make that clear. You can be plenty strong… you can hit your lowest lows, and pull yourself together and lift yourself up out of the depths, all of which requires a great deal of strength and courage, and at the end of the day still not make space for your most authentic self to shine through. Courage is not the same as fortitude, either.
Also, courage is not just telling it like you see it no matter what the situation and who you are with. Some people might think that’s courage….. like when you think you’ve been charged a wrong price at the grocery store and you demand attention to the matter, then feel proud of yourself for not just staying quiet and walking away…. but that’s not courage. I think that might border more on indignation or righteousness. Or another one, like standing up to your boss who wants you to come into work when you’re trying to call in sick…. that one might be bravery, but I don’t think bravery and courage are exactly the same thing.
I feel like courage is actually more akin to vulnerability, and to the process of allowing yourself to stop fighting, to allowing yourself to stop pushing and forcing. I think it takes courage to find stillness, and to just be. And then courage to bring that stillness forward into our outer worlds.
Bravery, in my mind, is often spontaneous– it operates off instinct. Courage, on the other hand, involves thought and acknowledgement.
Brene Brown says that courage means showing up and letting yourself be seen, despite the risk. When you show up in this way, you open yourself up to joy and connection, but you can only do it by accepting that there could be pain.
I think I realized from a very young age that I was “weird.” I didn’t think the way other people thought, I didn’t process life in the same way. My ideas about God were always different, my need for quiet, the way I observed people… I never felt like I belonged, necessarily. I always considered myself a bit of a black sheep. And as a kid, it was hard for me. Hard for me to accept my differences… all kids just want a sense of belonging. And I internalized those feelings, and I became a bit of a people pleaser. I just wanted to feel like everybody else.
As an adult I have been on a very long journey toward turning that around. I recognize that none of that served me well, that people pleasing simply makes me feel badly about myself, less attuned to myself, that I like the person I am on the inside, in the quiet moments when I’m alone and most freely me, and that I am most comfortable in my own skin when I get to be me. The more I tear down all the walls I built up as a child, the more I like the person I find behind them. Also, the more I bring this person forward in the world, the happier I am. I noticed that I feel anger and passive-aggressiveness around people whom I am not comfortable being fully myself around. I feel angry at them because I am not being fully me, with all my crazy and wild and opinions and all of it.
But here’s the thing, no one can make us feel anything without our permission. So those people I was mad at… I had no business being mad at them. I chose to behave differently around them. Byron Katie says, there’s your business, other people’s business, and God’s business, and that we have no business being in other people’s business or God’s business. What that means is, if other people have a judgment of me when I’m being my true self, that’s their business. And it is not any of my business. If you are listening to this right now and thinking it’s a god-awful terrible podcast, that’s your business. You have that right. It’s none of my business what you think of it. What is my business is making the best attempt at a podcast as I can in this moment…. and maybe down the road I’ll know better, and I’ll do better… but for now, the most courageous thing I can do is be my absolute most true self while recording this, and hope that it’s enough to get my message across.
When you acknowledge this, when you fully integrate this question of Whose-business-is-it-anyway?, it really frees you up to be courageous. And it stops mattering what other people think of you. So I can do something like write this podcast, because I doubt anyone listens to it anyway, and it’s just me and a microphone, and if someone out there is listening and has a judgment of me, in this moment, I truly do acknowledge that it’s ok, you’re allowed that judgment, and I’m just gonna be myself anyway.
But what about when we’re around our people? What happens when we’re around that boss that intimidates us? Or that in-law that always has a comment or two, or the friend of a friend that is so loud and outspoken in her opinions that you’re afraid to say anything that might differ lest it spark a debate, or even your own spouse who doesn’t agree with your woo-woo beliefs and who you avoid such conversations with, or around your own mother who brings out the worst in you, or maybe it’s your father that does…. there’s always at least one person in your life that can make your voice catch in your throat….. What then? How do you bring forth your courage then? How can you break the cycle of hiding yourself and allow yourself to be freely you?
This is a very good question.
The answer is, more of the same.
- Acknowledge your feelings to yourself.
- Acknowledge where they come from, where they are rooted.
- Let go of blame. And avoid playing the victim.
- Understand that no one can make you feel a certain way without your permission. And that other people’s feelings and opinions are none of your business.
And with all of that established, just be yourself. One moment at a time.
I kind of liken it to a domino effect. Maybe one day you will have a moment of courageous truth in front of your brother, but then hide again, like a turtle in a shell, in front of your mother. Maybe a week later you will have a moment of courage in front of your mother, but then the courage leaves you when with your father-in-law. It’s ok. It’s all ok. Everything in steps and stages. I’m a big fan of baby steps… or one degree turns, as Martha Beck would call them. But the more courage is practiced in private, the more it can be practiced in public. The more it is practiced in public, the more it can be ingrained as a new way of being.
I have been practicing lately.
I have not always been succeeding. I’ve had moments where I have voiced my opinion on something, and been told by another person that they didn’t agree, and I did not handle it well internally, because I felt like I had done something wrong by having a differing opinion, or like I made a mistake in my opinion just because it was different. I lacked courage. I have also had moments where I have known within myself what way I wanted a particular situation to go, what was best for me, but where I allowed what was best for others to dominate the scenario. These moments leave me feeling regretful, and even resentful, over having not established personal boundaries when needed.
But I continue to practice. And as I practice I get stronger… the pit in my stomach where the wishy washy used to live is becoming sturdy and centered and knowledgeable… a true foundation for who I am, where the truth of me can more easily rise with confidence.
Listen, it might not be a sexy answer. It might not be what you want to hear. It might be work. But this is what it is. Practice. And know that you are worth the effort.
Next time I would like to talk about positivity vs toxic positivity. It’s a complicated subject, and often misunderstood, for something that is meant to be quite simple. Yet, knowing the difference goes a long way toward knowing the difference between authenticity and inauthenticity. I think it’s important.
Until next time, remember to always listen to your inner voice, because the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid.