Courage is not a decision, but we all are courageous at times.
Courage is what we all felt as we watched the Dr. Blasey Ford during the recent Senate Supreme Court confirmations hearings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XqbQH0__o8 We all recognize courage when we see it. In moments when one speaks one’s truth, acts with integrity, risks one’s well being for the well being of others we see courage. But, saying that one chooses to act with courage is not accurate. No one chooses to act courageously any more than one chooses cowardice. In such moments when any part of our being is at risk we do the best we can.
I came to this conclusion while talking with friends at a dinner party.
“Healing pains of the past and transforming fears of the future into dreams of joy”, I said explaining what I do for a living to a new acquaintance. My new friend then asked how this happens and I started talking about Thought Field Therapy as a means to calm the mind and relax the body and come fully into the present moment. Using TFT as an effective way for people to find themselves in a safe place, and from this place of safety repair the injury and hurt from events experienced long ago using natural healing mechanisms ….. This where most people start to space out. I get so caught up in expanding my understanding of humans, I forget most people don’t spend their days working on these questions. So, to keep it interesting, I asked.” how do you think people heal from traumatic stress?” My new friend, as I came to find out, just so happened to be a Buddhist.
We were on the same page about being fully present as a prerequisite to moving beyond old pains and fears of the future. But he suggested it is matter of perspective. To see the one’s upset as separate from the from reality. Recognize the importance of what is really happening and don’t give illusions the power to control your feelings and actions. I liked this perspective, as it led to some probing questions about how we actually go about not giving power to illusions that control your feelings. I enjoyed our discussion about meditation and a disciplined life. But he had no answer for what to do when one is in such high levels of pain or panic when meditation or reasoned action is not possible. My new friend’s perspective is that we have the power to choose our feelings, and more importantly we have the power to choose how we react to those feelings. But does that ring true for the majority of people? Do we choose to feel panic, anxiety, and depression, or is it a response to traumas in our past or things we have experienced? Is there a root cause of this pain and can we end suffering simply by changing our perspective? But what happens when we are unable to change our perspective, for it a takes an extremely displaced mind and highly conscious person to reach that level of acceptance. And the majorities of us, including myself are either currently on the journey, with all its intended hiccups, or just beginning to take control of our mental health. Amidst our interesting discussion I was called away, as it was time to start cooking the pizza for dinner.
I was then asked again about my work, and what my role was in facilitating healing in others.
“Think of me as a tow truck. When a person has gone off the road, stuck in a ditch, unable to get back on the road and move forward on one’s life journey, I come along. I bring the tools and the power to get going”, I said in response to the question about my work.
I like this way of thinking of my work because just like a tow truck resting on the solid asphalt I don’t have to figure out what happened or to make judgments about the driver. I just have to get them out of the ditch and if they need repairs make them on the spot or get them to a repair shop. I don’t pick the direction or route for their journey. They have ended up where they are, stuck because of a lot of reasons, mostly not of their choosing or within their control. And it is not my job to make them feel worse than they already feel. Most of what happens to us is not of our choosing and the way we feel about what happens is not of our choosing.
Dr. Blasey Ford’s time speaking was courageous, and she evoked pride in our shared values, and compassion, and empathy. But had she not come forward, and we knew her story, would have evoked these same feelings of compassion, empathy, and pride? She survived a trauma and was moving forward in her life with love, service, and joy. She was brave in her steadfast testimony. At that moment she spoke, all the experiences in her life required her to do what she did. Thanks to her family of origin, her family she created, her professional and home communities, her friends and therapist, she found the will to speak up for herself and all of us who have been wronged. She made the effort to protect those she cares for as best she could. Dr. Ford was courageous, but she did not intentionally choose to act with courage, for courage is what we perceive her actions to be, when in actuality she was acting from a place of protection.
I am saying this because so many of us have responded in ways that would not be described in such positive terms. At moments in my life I have acted in ways that shown me to be less than the man I hoped to be. I can only share these moments when I know I will not be shamed, accused of cowardice, stupidity, or being without of integrity. And as I understand those events now I was doing the best I could. We all feel in an instance what is safe and what is dangerous. This recognition causes us to react from our experience of what is necessary to protect ourselves and those we love. Most of the time we just do what has become habitual without engaging the higher parts of our being. We can change these habits by learning to calm the mind and relax the body with Thought Field Therapy. Then we can think, plan, and act to be in service of more justice in caring for those we love. Including ourselves.
Be kind to yourself and to others as best you can. Let me know if this rings true to you. Keep tapping.