“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” – Lao Tzu
Courage is more than fearlessness and heroic acts. The underlying assumption of courage is that it responds to external conflict, particularly the kind where taking action can result in possible death. While there exists skepticism toward externally-focused courage such as taking action due to other fears, the definition is narrow and overshadows other kinds of courageous acts that individuals are able to engage and exercise daily. The lesser known courage is the kind that seeks to vanquish inner demons in order to achieve inner peace. Rather than ignoring or allowing for inner chaos to spiral uncontrollably, the choice to face those negative thoughts takes courage. Without dispelling other kinds of bravery, brilliant courage happens in spite of looming fear and in relation to internal conflict. To face personal and deeper fears takes special courage. Not everybody stands on the front lines of a battlefield against an armed enemy; however, everybody does have an unconscious part of the mind that if left untamed has the capacity to cause torment. Coupled with the ego, the unconscious may utilize our fears to prevent us from achieving our full potential in all facets of our lives.
Though far from easy courage targeted inward can make a difference between experiencing a life well lived and a life of regret. Rather than committing the same self-defeating behaviors or allowing the unconscious to wreak havoc through the guise of self-protection but really self-sabotage, build the courage to delve into uncharted territory of the mind to let go of fear and to gain mental and moral fortitude. Not many take the pilgrimage and face the open wounds of the mind for several reasons including self-denial. Furthermore, the only individual allowed to trek is the mind’s owner. The only courage needed is from the mind’s owner. Nobody has a way of noticing if an individual is taking on the internal war. Therefore, nobody is able to support another individual who decides to boldly fight their inner demons. Also, there is no external motivation such as recognition involved. There is no medal, symbol of bravery, or visible accolade won at the end, rather liberation is awarded. Liberation to live the life one imagines. The capacity to let go of jealousy, to live without attaching value to what others think about you, and to cease and quiet the mind from spreading judgment and self-doubt are all internal rewards that only those who face the challenge shall receive. To regain personal power from insecurities, doubt, and negative talk is not only a momentous victory it also has the ability to change our perceptions about external challenges by enhancing our clarity to tackle them better. After our perceptions are altered, our behavioral and emotional reactions to the outside whether a thing or a individual cannot intimidate us nor stop us in our individual pursuits of happiness and fulfillment.