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06/03/2009

Courage is the Key to Assertiveness

Courage and Cowardice

The key that unlocks the door to becoming assertive is courage.  Have you ever stopped to think about what that word really means?  How about it’s opposite – to be cowardly?

I always think of the Wizard of Oz, just finished playing in my hometown of Rochester, New York as part of a national touring company, to rave reviews.  Without courage we are reduced to cowardly behaviors which strips us of our rightful heritage and claim to be who we are and what we are.

We Can Recover Our Central Essence of Function

We might understandably think, before reading the story of  how Dorothy and her surprising companions managed to accomplish their seemingly impossible vision, that there can be no such thing as a cowardly lion.  Then he centrally appears, making us laugh at his completely out-of-character behavior. 

Then the lion seemingly transforms before our eyes, organically and in key increments, to become the “king of the forest”.   We are now able to realize this can only be possible from a central place of activated courage.

How can this transformation from being so traumatized that one loses one’s essential, central essence of function, to being fully actualized?  Every time we acknowledge our fear and successfully shift to being the visionary observer of our life, we regain, in mysterious and surprising ways, our innate courage.

The Truth About Fear and Functioning

Courage doesn’t exist without fear – in fact, fear catalyzes courage.  So does the desperation that comes from crisis.  As I’ve said a number of times in  earlier articles, the Chinese translation of crisis means both danger and opportunity.

Fear never stopped anyone from doing anything.  Only turning away from courageous choice-making stops us from being fully actualized.  Courage snaps us out of our “box” of ego-driven woundedness and correspondingly restricted, compromised problem-solving that always fundamentally interferes with real resolution.

Key Steps to Courageous Choice-Making

Becoming assertive create, builds and extends courage.  Here are my key recommendations to recover your essence courage and be assertive in any situation:

1.   When struggling about how to respond, begin by closing your eyes, taking several full, deep, cleansing breaths, and then imagine how you can ask your heart what it wants and needs to be set free.  Record your experience.

2.  Write down what in your heart of hearts you believe to be true about the concerning situation.  Then take a few moments to read over all that you have written, sit with it a bit, and then record whatever insights occur.

3.  In a deeper reflective state, ask yourself the following question:  What am I most afraid of here?  Stay as fully present as you can with whatever comes up inside you in response, and then record your experience, as well as whatever insights occur.

4.  Imagine you can view the whole experience from a detached, focused place.  As this occurs, ask yourself the following questions:  Who, What, Where, When, Why and How is this happening?  Record all your answers, and then read through everything and record any insights that occur.

5.  Read through all that you have recorded and use all of it to correspondingly list all possible courses of action in a brainstorming journaling exercise.

6.  Ask yourself, in reviewing the above possible choices of response, which one feels like the most courageous choice anyone facing this situation could make, and put an asterisk (*) next to it.

7.  As an experiment in assertiveness emerging from courageous choice-making, commit to carrying out that choice within a reasonable time frame, do it, and see what happens.  Keep notes on all that occurs.

8.  Congratulate yourself for having the courage to extend, in ways beyond your current level of functioning, your capacity to be present, empowered and fully assertive.

Keep me posted!

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