Do you know that feeling when you are so vulnerable and scared about something, you can barely bring yourself to even look at your partner in the face? This situation can be very painful because we may be locked into feeling shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, sadness, or anger. And we feel that we have to keep it inside because if we talk about it, you believe that everything will be far much worse than if you keep it in. And you don’t feel emotionally strong enough to look your partner in the eye.
This scenario, and hundreds of variations of it, is a very common theme in relationships. So, how can you cope when in this situation? Do you open up or stay quiet? Is it worth the potential risk of feeling humiliated or possibly even be rejected?
This brings us to the next core foundation of loving and intimate relationships – courage.
The importance of courage used to be one of the least talked about, and yet most important elements to a loving and intimate relationship.
What is courage?
Without courage, love cannot flourish.
And that is why courage is one of the core foundations of love and is absolutely necessary if you want to be in a relationship that is intimate and growing.
In short, courage is not the absence of fear but the refusal to be paralyzed by fear.
What gets in the way of courage?
Sometimes we encounter a situation in life that is terribly difficult to confront. Maybe you feel too embarrassed to cope with a situation that is out of control. Maybe your partner suffers from alcohol or substance abuse. It’s painful to admit that things are not getting better…and quite possibly worse.
Do you find yourself paralyzed with fear whenever they get drunk? Does all of this scare you to the point where you just crawl up in a ball and cry or simply deny that it is a problem.
Or have you reached your breaking point and decided that you are going to do something about this? If the latter is your path, good for you because this will take some courage. You know that things cannot possibly get any better until you confront what you previously feared you could not cope with. You hack your courage and go for it. Better for your partner if they are open to getting help. And, hopefully, because you were courageous. Even better for the two of you as a couple.
There are other situations where we remain paralyzed by fear or the belief that we are not supposed to open our hidden world because you were taught that it is a sure a sign of weakness to reveal yourself. Staying hidden and keeping everything to ourselves is a sure way to sabotage love. Some of us tend to be secretive about our inner world and generally hide the truth or hide from the truth.
Will being courageous always get my needs met?
No. It won’t. But not asking for what you want will definitely reduce your chances of getting what you want and need.
What does courage look like?
I think that Brené Brown says it best, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
So, what does that look like? Here are some examples:
- You tend to avoid talking about your sexual desires…and you talk about them anyway.
- You tend to avoid confrontations in general, because they scare you. You decide to start initiating crucial conversations, rather than be paralyzed by fear.
- You take some chances and talk about things that are uncomfortable.
- You’re afraid to ask someone on a date…and you ask anyway.
- You aren’t used to being vulnerable. You tend to hide your tears – even from people who clearly care about you….and you let them see you.
- You’re afraid of asking to spend more time with someone…and you ask them anyway.
- Your partner has been judging you for something. Normally you either get angry, withdraw, or freeze up. Anything but tell them that it hurts…and you tell them anyway.
- You need some space and are afraid to request it…and you ask anyway.
- There is a habit that your partner has that you find troublesome. Maybe you don’t want to share the bathroom with them and you’d like some privacy. You
feel nervous and want to be sensitive about their feelings so you find the very best way to hack your courage and tell them.
- You know there are practical risks associated with being openly authentic. You start to weigh the pros and cons about any issue, and err more on the side of sharing with your partner than not.
- You keep on picking the wrong type of person to date. You decide to get out of your comfort zone and choose differently.
As you can probably see by now, there are unlimited opportunities for each of us to be more courageous.
In reality, I hear so many people who live with one or many regrets that they didn’t take more chances in their lives. So often this relates to their personal, academic, and professional lives.
There is one thing that happy successful people seem to have in common. They take chances. They take risks. They are courageous. They know that true love is not for the faint of heart.
It’s not always so easy to know when to take a risk and when not to. Of course, you don’t want to be needlessly reckless, either.
My best guidance is this: unless the risk you are contemplating is going to pose a significant threat to your life or your general health, take the risk. You probably don’t have that much to lose.
Yes. You may be disappointed. Yes. You may get rejected. Yes. You will feel the pain of not getting a need met but you will not feel the pain of the intense remorse you will almost certainly feel if you didn’t love yourself enough to take a chance.
Instead, decide to love yourself enough to settle for more. Take a chance and go for it!
You might even find yourself in the love of a lifetime…
There are very specific ways of thinking and behaving that couples need to learn in order to both express love and receive love. Knowing these tools is absolutely foundational to enjoying happy and healthy relationships. This article is the fourth in my new six-part series: The Core Foundations of Real Love and True Intimacy. You can find other posts here:
I hope that this article on courage is helpful to you in your life. It’s not always so easy to get in touch with that warrior side of ourselves. If you would like to explore this more, feel free and encouraged to contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I am a good fit for what you need to help you find your courage.