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

days
weeks
months

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
tracks:

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.

Huh.


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)

OR 

forgive myself. 

Softly. 

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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