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Wings on My Shoulder: Thoughts on Courage

| written by Anokina Shahbaz | 8 comments
Courage Image


I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. That word seems to pop up randomly in blog posts, quotes, Facebook posts and articles I’m reading. But I’m not a believer in “random” events. I know it’s showing up for a reason. Perhaps to remind me of what I need most in my life right now. But what is courage, really? Where does it come from? What is it made of?

For me, courage is coming home to who I truly am and what I stand for. It’s a remembering. Of what we are when fear is not wrapping her tentacles around our throats. Courage is a quality you inhabit, a window from which you face out into the world and engage with it. Living a life of courage, I think, means never breaking your integrity, staying close to your essence, and fighting for your truths.

I’m starting to learn that it’s not so much about getting rid of my anxiety, but about adding courage into my life. I don’t need to change the broken parts, I simply need to find the fearlessness that has always been inside of me and invite it to the table, for every meal. After all, what is a life without daring to face the reflection in the mirror, boldly? And then, owning it all. The parts we like, the ones we despise. The ones we want to erase. There is tender beauty in saying “I’m scared,” but there is grace in transforming what frightens us into stories of healing.

Courage is made up of every decision we make in service of our highest Self. Every time we say yes to that which makes us better and kinder human beings, our courage grows. Every time we say no to the destructive habits and beliefs that bring us down and break our spirit, our courage is lifted up. We become heroes of our own journey when we choose love over fear, what feels right over what feels good. Courage is not an endpoint we arrive at after years of striving; it is a momentary declaration, a silent prayer, a stubborn refusal to stay imprisoned in our diminishment. It happens always in the present moment of our lives… in an almost imperceptible instant that comes and then vanishes. There isn’t much room to hesitate, we either risk stepping forward into the full expression of our authentic selves, or remain frozen, stuck playing the same old tape over and over.

I have been in that frozen place. Choosing to give in to my anxieties, letting them lead my life. But now, I hear courage calling my name and I want to show up. Say yes to the scary, the intimidating, the unknown. What else am I here for? Comfort and ease have taught me nothing valuable in my life. They have not connected me to my essential nature… to others… or to the magnificent good I’m capable of. They have simply kept me from experiencing life to its fullest – pain, joy and everything in-between.

My friends, Socrates said it best: The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Indeed. Now, more than ever, I am ready to examine my own. And for that, I will need truckloads of courage. I will paint courage’s colors on my body and wrap myself in its hues. I will sew courage’s wings onto my shoulders that I may soar above the chains that bind me. If it takes me a hundred lifetimes to learn the sweet language of the unabashed warrior, I will come back to earth in one reincarnation after another until I have learned it.

Maybe courage was waiting all along for me to ascend to its call. Show me a soul with courage, and I will emulate it. I will be scared to death and yet, unafraid. For I am here. I am courage. I am finally, home. 

What does courage mean to you?
Where in your life can you be more courageous?

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Anokina Shahbaz is a writer who believes every one of us is here for a reason, and it has something to do with realizing and manifesting our most authentic self. A contributor to several print and online publications, she holds a BA in English and MS in Counseling. She loves the smell of lavender, yoga, journaling, and finding meaning in the mundane. You can find her chasing her muse on her blog, tweeting what peaks her curiosity on Twitter, or posting inspiration on Instagram.


Pamela Rickrode: I chose SURPASS. Last year was rough and I want to make this one better. Also I tend toward perfectionism and often stress myself. This year to surpass will be enough. I want to enjoy the journey. Reply

Tyra: Well I went over to the one word site and here you are with my ONE WORD. Courage has been following me the last 2 days and I haven't been able to shake it. And here it shows its face again so I guess it's telling me courage is the solid rock I'll stand on in 2015. Thank you for your inspiring words. Reply

debra: Beautiful! I will paint myself as well in colors of courage and press into those colors. Thank you Reply

Nanci: I choose: love Because Love survives all in this life's daily living. Love is strength and a choice when life seems otherwise not so full of joy. For God so loved us he gave his life for us Jesus is Love. Reply

Martha Smith: My One Word for 2015 has to be TRUST. That seems so easy, doesn't it. But it is not. You would think we would trust the Lord with all of our heart. We do with our spirit, but our mind has some problems. It has to be renewed daily for sure. Less Martha, More Trusting the Lord..... TRUST is my word. Reply

Lisa: Ah, that quote from Socrates is one of my favorites. I often keep it in mind to remind me to EXAMINE my life actively and live to the fullest. Enjoyed your post! Reply

molli moser: Interesting read,you painted what it means to have courage beautifully. It is easy to see you are someone who possesses insight and wisdom. I do have a question, when you mentioned that courage is made up of every decision we make in service to our highest Self, what do you mean? What is our 'highest Self?' Molli Moser Reply

Anokina Shahbaz: Thanks everyone! Molli - when I say highest Self, I mean it in a spiritual sense. The self that is our truest self, beyond all the layers we cover it up with. In other words, the best and purest version of ourselves. The one that knows what's best for us, the one that is beyond ego. What we attempt to tap into when we meditate, do yoga, or any other form of spiritual practice. Those, like the Daili Lama for example, who are said to be enlightened, have accessed their Highest Self. It's ultimately what we strive towards becoming with all our personal growth work. I hope that answered it. Feel free to keep in touch if you have more questions or want to connect via my website - chasemymuse.com or email - [email protected] Reply

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