the transitive property of courage

During the snowy beginnings of 2019, I buckled up and dug into curating my top life values.

The work was guided initially from a book club I was leading at the time for Brené Brown’s, “Dare to Lead,” but lasted far after the book discussions ended.

I was given the advice to limit my values to two – no more, no less.

I initially made a list of five, and finally narrowed it down to three. (As a counterphobic enneagram six, I’m not too bothered by following rules that don’t work for me.)

1. Courage

2. Honesty

3. Warmth 

“Honesty” and “warmth” felt like coming home to myself; hummed deep in my core – I felt alignment and belonging in my bones.

“Courage,” however, was a stretch value for me. I wanted to be more courageous – so I set it as a vision to accomplish through perseverance.

After the snow melted into a buttery, warm spring I experienced loss that changed everything.

A seismic disruption that pulled me apart.

I spent


looking for ways to put everything back together.

But broken doesn’t neatly repair.

I clung to “warmth” and “honesty” as guiding lights and told myself
I wasn’t strong enough
brave enough
mentally healthy enough
to keep claim to “courage.”

So I quietly limped away from owning “courage;” let it drift coldly like the frozen leaves I crunched on walking into Fall.

It can be tricky to hear the universe whisper to you over the building sounds of self-repair.

But it remains persistent.

For weeks I had internally been cringing at the mention of confidence.

One afternoon I was reading an email about a new book launch and a small line stuck out to me

stopped me
in my

Confidence comes from claiming our truth.

I made myself stare this idea down. Re-wrote it on a sticky note to keep chewing on later.

I was definitely working my ass off to claim my own truths. Sharing untold stories on friends’ couches, in new digital spaces, through my fledgling manuscript.

I did some rough mathematical calculations based on the initial sentence and finally made eye contact with my broken self.

if confidence = courage (in my opinion)

and truth claimin’ = confidence

by the transitive property I was already seeking courage.


I had a choice to make. 

I could continue to ignore what was hurting and perpetuate “disappointment” with myself (shame monsters can be scary to face)


forgive myself. 


For giving up on my own strength for a little while. 
For keeping love from myself when I needed it. 
For being afraid and running from yet another painful thing. 

I re-wrote the prompt to read: 

Courage comes from claiming your truth. 

When I’m nervous or scared you better believe I’ll be repeating this to myself silently (or not so silently – I have an unconscious habit of mumbling when I think I’m alone).

It’ll be a trust-building exercise with myself. 

To stay
when I want to run. 

To feel strong 
when the pain is aching
and the doubts grow louder.

How do you see life values at play in your own life?

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