The Inner Game of Courage

Courage is the domain of the heart. The emotional state that moves us forward when stakes are high (real or perceived); when we’re being invited to grow.

If you look up the word courage in various dictionaries there is a continuum of usage.

Facing what we may feel we can’t; of being convicted in our beliefs & efforts; of defying the status quo and following a path of integrity.

Regardless of the definition or context, the courage I want to explore in this post is about the courage of choosing an ideal; living in/with integrity & the courage of inspiration that supports us to move forward, even if all may seem or feel lost.

I invite you to contemplate your inner relationship with courage.

Courage unexplored inside will leave us chasing our tail of growth.

To read about courage is one thing. To live with it, intimately is entirely different. To choose to meet our inner sovereign lioness directly, is, a great call of our becoming. She roars inside, awaiting our attention. Seeking our warm embrace. Patiently abiding in our hearts. Standing fully at the transformative crossroads of NOW.
— Cathy Saunders, Choice Point Living

The inner game of courage.

I understand how challenging it can feel to move against the grain; to believe in something when so many require convincing; to step out of the traditional path and in doing so have many moments of feeling alone. Of wrestling with the inner resistance of wanting things to be different, while seeking to simultaneously keep things the same. This can feel like a standstill state. Being with the tension that’s activated here can be quite valuable; if we’re willing to work with it.

We’re not taught the value of tension in day-day life. We’re not taught that tension is often the pre-cursor to growth, creativity & change. And more importantly, we’re not taught how to best relate with tension. To nurture our courage. To celebrate each other when we witness courage in their choices of life, leadership & service.

I have come to know deeply the power of choice to navigate this terrain.
What might shift in your relationship with courage if you were to welcome choice as a process versus an event?

Authentic Play.

Each of us are unique in our inner game of courage. As much as I feel it’s a common invitation for us all; time and time again I witness in myself and others a unique dance of engaging this inner game. Like most aspirations in life, if we attempt to engage our inner game “like another”; in ways that aren’t integral to our being, we’ll fall short. As a result we can drop deeper into denial, disappointment and acceptance or complacency. Weaving a narrative that courage is something for others, and not us.

Discovering your unique recipe of the inner game of courage is a potent path. There are many ways into & onto this path.

I hope this post inspires your inner reflection of your unique recipe of the inner game of courage. That you’ll be open to opportunities to cultivate it more in your life, leadership & service.

Be Alert to a One-Sided Approach.

We bow at the feet of ease; try to OM our way to a new way of living, leading & serving, rejecting the conflict that awaits our attention.
To live in & with courage calls up a choice point of working in a space called the “AND”. This can feel like “no-man’s” land at times. The gap; the river we must cross; the space of the unknown & our need to explore the dance of impermanence and uncertainty.

Some philosophies call this the middle-way; many paths illuminate the path of one-ness where duality is an illusionary perceptual filter of opposites (often described as Non-Duality) and others focus on the view of dualism as a practical dance with creative divine nature. For example the Chinese philosophy of yin & yang; Ayruveda’s view of elemental nature; which also shines through in Astrology as well.

Many teachings align on various levels of understandings & practices for working holistically with ourselves; each other & life.
Holism is the domain of the AND. In all of my work (personally & professionally), I seek to walk with others on their path of liberating potential. Of reawakening and remembering their holistic nature. This is a dance of various philosophies that on one level, holds no opposites and yet, support us to practically dance with the experience of contrast along our development paths.

So what does this have to do with courage?

Well, if we’re seeking to create change, transformation on any level , in any arena of life, we’ll come face to face with our inner sovereign lioness- called courage. In our meeting with her, we will be invited to discover how to live with a broader range of energies than those that have gotten us to where we’re at. It seems unavoidable that growth is essential to living well. Growth by it’s nature will highlight tensions.

Growth offers a great opportunity to consciously work with the process of choice.

Learning how to be with this process is creative. At times filled with ease & flow. At times filled with challenge and being still.

At a basic level, our inner game of courage brings us to the doorstep of considering what we believe, value and truly seek to create.

Our world view sets the foundation on which we build a life of courage.

A world view for me is a collection, a tapestry of beliefs, values & attitudes that filter my experiences. Like a pair of glasses, they attune my sight to what I see; what I know I know; what I know I don’t know and my capacity to see both up close AND far away.

It is often in our world view that our beliefs not only colour our consideration of what is happening or even what is possible out there, but also inside. The beliefs we hold about our worthiness, our capacities, our potential & our ability to own our courage fully.

What do you believe in?

There are many different world views available to us now in our culture. For many religion has gone by the wayside and we’re traveling a “spiritual path” without a spiritual grounding to foster a sustainable “inner game”. We may resonate with ideas and concepts of personal growth that are about the flavour of the day pop psychology or a promised approach to fulfilling our desires.

None of this is good, bad, right or wrong. In fact I would share that I have gotten my Masters degree in these approaches over the past decade!

Today, however I would invite your consideration of exploring a new pathway for relating to your courage. Of cultivating your inner game, sustainably.

Commit to a path that aligns with your authentic beliefs, values & attitudes. Dig deep. Ground in something.

First step?

Spend time developing clarity around what you believe in. Not what you’ve been told to believe or what you’ve unconsciously subscribed to over the years. Rather, dig deep and ask:

  • what is it I truly believe?

  • what is it I value above all else?

  • what do I have faith in?

Are you willing to look?

Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I want to change myself.
— Rumi

For many of us at some point in our pursuit of working harmoniously with our growth, we come to recognize that what we’re seeing out there, IS, a call to inner work. Yup. AND….if you’ve been on a path of deep inner work, the time will come where you must step fully out there.

In that choice point, our inner work, our inner game of courage begins to bloom in the domain of AND.

I am discovering that this transition requires companionship. Requires communities of travellers committed to their own unfolding inner growth with courage.

Owning the AND of skillfulness.

If you’re here reading this blog, I imagine you know the journey of the pioneer, the explorer, the visionary & at times the rebel. These innovative archetypes have immense value to offer us, our work and life in general. And they too, like all archetypal patterns have expressions that if we’re unaware can activate unconscious, hidden ways of being & relating that are un-skillful. Yet these two versions (skillful & unskillful) aren’t separate, rather, a turn of the kaleidoscope of a whole pattern.

In my own journey of growth & work with others, I often see the tipping point of skillful to unskillful emerge when the idea of separation wields its sword.

I recently heard someone say (forgive me I forget who) that “Good astrology is a choice revealer versus a choice maker”. We could substitute astrology for any framework of self discovery that invites & allows us the see the holistic nature of ourselves, any moment, situation or relationship.

In the moment that courage feels like she is calling us forward…this is the moment to stop, take a breath & be willing to look. A choice revealer. Inviting us to explore what our deeper motivation is; to examine what stories seek to hold us in certainty; to look both closely and from a distance at how we’re choosing to be, think & act….skillfully.

And…when we’ve found we’ve engaged un-skilfully, to meet our lioness with heart.

Four Allies of Courage.

When choosing to work with courage as an inner game, we get to meet great inner allies. I call these the four sisters of courage.

These four sisters wield the AND of skillfulness. Compassionate Innocence; Integrous Faith; Discerning Choice and Creator Consciousness.

We explore these skillful expressions in the Liberate Patterns of Esteem program. This is a core piece of work we all must step into if we’re going to welcome our inner sovereign lioness to walk with us.

Ready to tend to your inner sovereign lioness?