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Courage

My therapist keeps telling me to stop analyzing so much. Well, she told me once, and I repeatedly hear her voice inside of my head every time I catch myself overthinking things. I can’t help it, though. I think about things. I write about the things I think about. It’s how I work things out.

I know what she means, though. She encourages me to just be in the space I am in. It’s a powerful method, being present, allowing myself to accept what I am feeling and where I am, right now in this moment.

I started practicing this skill with my anxiety. Instead of fighting so hard against those feelings, instead of pulling my sword from its scabbard each time I feel those muscles clench in my stomach and between my shoulder blades, I’ve been practicing opening my arms.

Instead of squaring off against my fear and saying “Bring it, fear, I conquered you before, I can do it again!” I put my arm around it and say, “Hello, fear, what are you trying to protect me from today?” It’s a very effective tactic, but also a bit anticlimactic and slightly disappointing. I’d started to get used to that feeling of victory when I had squelched the anxiety. I experienced a kind of rush from tackling it head on and annihilating it. Now, it just dissipates before it even fully arrives. I give it a nod, but it doesn’t overwhelm me or even really bother me anymore. There really is something to that whole “a soft answer turneth away wrath,” thing, even when dealing with oneself.

Since I am expending much less energy fighting my fear battles, I am now able to focus my energies in more proactive directions. Conquering fear is a worthy cause, but maintaining courage is more lasting and permanent.

Courage, to me, is conquering fear, but with that added element of humility. I struggle to find a perfect word to invoke the standard of courage that also contains the idea of allowing the Savior to be one’s Captain in the courageous cause, for that is what makes all the difference for me. I have courage when I give over my fears to Him and let His peace wash over me in place of the former anxiety.

As I work to master this skill, it impacts more than just myself. Yesterday, a friend mentioned to me that my presence is peaceful, and marveled that it could be so when I am in the midst of such a chaotic existence. Today, a student commented that my classroom felt different from others and that it was “a safe space.” I like that very much. I’m happy to be a tool that provides peace and a safe space for people. The thing is, I have not tried to be or do these things for anyone besides myself, but as spiritual siblings we can sense each other’s countenances. Our spirits speak to each other in that celestial language, and those blessed with the gift of discernment are able to recognize it.

As with all these lessons I’m learning, I write this to remind myself and keep it with me. All will be well; even if my being right now is angry or irritated or sad, peace will come back as I give my fears away and trade them in for my personal version of courage.

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