Karyn practicing yoga (Mountain Pose or Tadasana)

“Courage is found in unlikely places” —  from Gild-or in The Fellowship of the Rings.

The definition of courage is simple. It is the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. Seems rather straight forward, right? But as I pondered this word I became interested in its depth and expansiveness. Often when we think of courage we envision a brave knight, or a decorated soldier or a firefighter who saves a family from a burning house putting their own life at risk in the process. But what about the unseen acts of courage that we endure everyday as regular, average individuals? At its highest virtue, courage may look like taking risk, despite fear to serve or save another. This is valour at the core. But what about the battles we face everyday in our own lives and within our own experiences? For some, simply facing each day of their life can take enormous courage.

This concept certainly isn’t new to me as a blind person. Most times I have to take a deep breath and prepare myself just to go for a walk with my guide dog in the neighbourhood. And that’s the familiar! The moment I wrestled with extending my courage, I was standing at a very intimidating intersection with an orientation and mobility instructor for the blind declaring that I was going to slay this crossing, independently, confidently and safely, once and for all. After-all, there is a spa on the other corner and if I could just face my fear of crossing this street and get to the other side, there could be a great reward  in the name of self care and pampering!

However, I have been a small town gal for nearly 3 decades and the traffic in the big city, where I have recently relocated, feels so overwhelming and these high volume intersections, insurmountable. So how much courage is required of me to trust my guide dog, the sighted drivers on the road and myself? What you don’t know is that my heart is racing and my adrenalin high. And will the reward of success and a pedicure be enough? I don’t know yet, but after I practice with the security of a sighted person shadowing me a few more times, I’ll let you know!

All that said, this exploration of my own personal journey through embodying bravery and what it means in my life, led me to get curious on how courage takes shape in the lives of others. I put the question out and the most common response I heard was that it takes courage to be yourself. Time to dig a little deeper! What does that even mean to “Be Yourself”?

Be Yourself:

“The truth is belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance because believing you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.” – From  Brenne Brown. 

  • Living unapologetically and knowing your inherent worth. You belong, you are loved and you are enough.
  • Taking up as much time and space as you need.
  • Knowing your opinions matter, standing up for what you believe in and speaking your truth.
  • Not shrinking away from conflict, criticism, or judgements from others.
  • Expressing your needs with healthy communication.
  • Carrying yourself with confidence and dignity.
  • Being perfectly imperfect.
  • Avoiding being someone or something you are not to please others.
  • Putting yourself out there, even if it is awkward, and standing apart from the crowd.
  • Being comfortable in your own skin and accepting your body just as it is.
  • Saying no, creating healthy boundaries and knowing when to be assertive.
  • Sharing your vulnerabilities and expressing difficult emotions.
  • Speaking out against injustice and bullying.
  • Knowing when to walk away.
  • Talking about hard subjects like sex, death, fear, suicide and mental health.
  • Remaining true to your convictions, values, virtues and ethics.
  • Celebrating your accomplishments and not downplaying them.
  • Being a rebel, a protestor, a spearhead, a warrior and feel passionate for what you believe in.
  • Being creative through art, music, writing, dancing, performing or blogging.
  • Being big and bold and not allowing yourself or others to keep you small.
  • Embracing your strengths as well as your weaknesses, they are both a part of you. 
  • Being silly, playful and finding joy.

“Having a super power has nothing to do with the ability to fly or jump or to have  superhuman strength. The truest super powers are the ones we possess: Willpower, integrity and most importantly, courage” – From Jason Reynolds

Know Yourself:

Here is a bold thought for you. It is one thing to be yourself but another to truly know yourself. Sometimes getting to know yourself can be really, really uncomfortable. Like honestly having to admit to yourself that you have faults, you’ve made mistakes and bad judgements, perhaps hurt yourself and others or even been completely out of your integrity. Ugg, let’s keep the skeletons locked up in the closet. But getting to know yourself for the sake of truly being your authentic and genuine self demands of you the courage to address your shadows. It’s okay! You’re human!

“Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is looking.” – From Yours Truly 

The actual definition of integrity is “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles” or “The state of being whole and undivided”. How can we reconcile some of those fragmented pieces of ourselves we don’t want to admit to in order to accept ourselves in our entirety? And do we really know who we are when we strip away our roles, responsibilities and ego? Here are some courageous ideas to get to know yourself better:

  • Always tell the truth, even if you are afraid of the consequences.
  • Admit when you are wrong and apologize if you have intentionally or unintentionally brought hurt or harm to another.
  • Practice becoming your own best friend and stop shit-talking yourself. By default, you are your own worst enemy, so stop it already!
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them, the lessons can be rich, search for the gold!
  • Get curious about why you say and do the things you do, what drives you? what triggers you?
  • Remember you are dynamic, what you thought yesterday may be different from what you think tomorrow, practice discernment.
  • Learn to stop the blame game when things don’t go your way.
  • Sit in quiet stillness, without distraction and observe your thoughts. Okay, okay, it’s called meditation.
  • Observe when you are reacting as opposed to responding to a situation, can you take pause? Can you do something different?
  •  Own your thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions, they are all yours.
  • Identify where you may be stuck in feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Find gratitude in even the hardest of life’s challenges.
  • Identify negative habits and behaviours  that aren’t serving you any longer and practice a new paradigm.
  • Get real with your fears, ask your anxious self what message is being delivered.
  • Acknowledge your imperfections and stop trying to cover them up.
  • Admit you have judgements and criticisms of your own towards others then ask yourself if they are truly valid or a projection of your own self-judgements and shortcomings.
  • Identify where you exert control and let go of unnecessary tactics that may be damaging your relationships.
  • Receive feedback from others without defensiveness.
  • Understand that many of your thoughts and behaviours have developed for your safety and survival, honour those places you have been and the coping mechanisms you have created, see them for the strengths they have been.
  • Give your inner child a hug and let her know you’ve got her back, no matter what and remember to ask her if she is doing okay once and a while.
  • Don’t let the past  hold you hostage, it isn’t happening anymore, leave it behind and look forward into the future you wish to create.
  • Make friends with your shadow, we’ve all had a monster or 2 living under our beds and a skeleton in our closet.
  • Explore your values, what is most important to you? Focus on those things in your life that you value most, the rest is just static.
  • Seek trust and be trustworthy.
  • Come clean and free yourself from regret.
  • Be sad, be angry, be hurt, be scared, be happy, be excited, be passionate, be silly, just be!
  • Accept that you are not going to get it right every-time but keep trying.
  • Ask yourself who would you be without your roles and responsibilities.
  • Always remember shit happens, it is up to you to decide how to deal with that shit.
  • Acknowledge that every moment of your life has brought you to this one and from this moment on, you are creating your future self. Who do you want to grow into being? 
  • Forgive yourself and others, it makes your load much lighter and your forgiveness may just lighten the load of another.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” – From E.E. Cummings 


We have, now, explored what it might take to be yourself and more importantly, know yourself. But what about the big C? Yup, maybe even harder than the first 2! I’m talking about change! Let’s be real, most of us get pretty comfy, and often complacent, doing being and settling on the daily. For many of us, change is very uncomfortable and something we like to avoid. Often our habits, behaviours, addictions and compulsions serve us in one way or another. Plus change requires effort, commitment and energy.

Maybe for some this is just fine, after-all, there is something to be said for contentedness. My observation? There is a difference between being content with what is and being complacent to what is. Most people struggle with finding true happiness in their lives. Finding the courage to change it, though, is the ultimate challenge.

“You can not swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” – From William Faulkner

Life offers us plenty of unexpected change, regardless of whether we are ready or wanting. Along side of courage is another little word I like to throw around called resilience. The 2 go hand in hand. Sometimes we aren’t given much choice to accept big change in our lives. From loss of a relationship or loved one, career changes and  community relocations to experiencing injury, illness and disability, resisting change can create more suffering, therefore, having the courage to face change, head on, strengthens our resiliency to managing difficult experiences. When we allow for change, we allow ourselves to grow.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” – From Reinhold Niebuhr

Looking to step out of your comfort zone and make some intentional changes in your life?

  • Try something new like a workshop, a new hobby or a sport that you have always wanted to do.
  • Smile and make conversations with strangers. Remember every friend was a stranger first.
  • Step way out of your comfort zone, don’t sing? Join a choir. Have 2 left feet? Learn to dance. Uncoordinated? Take up the piano. Don’t have an ounce of art in you? Sign up for a painting or pottery class. The worst thing that could happen is that you might find out your actually good at it!
  • Pick something and commit to it, don’t faulter.
  • Are you more afraid to fail or succeed? Do it anyway! And whatever it is, do it today!
  • Address a habit or behaviour you wish to change and then take deliberate action to change it.
  • Say no!
  • Say Yes!
  • Stop justifying your addictions and get back into the driver’s seat.
  • Make peace with something that is out of your control.
  • Let go of the old and invite the new by Stepping into the unknown and uncertainty.
  • End a toxic relationship once and for all.
  • Sleep with the light off.
  • Be the first to reach out and connect.
  • Be a champion for something you believe in.
  • Stay open to new experiences and possibilities.
  • Trust

“Courage is trusting that when you let go and you face the fear of falling, underneath you is the biggest, baddest and bounciest trampoline that shoots you right back up with a smile on your face!” – From Yours Truly

The inevetable:

This is a paragraph that is difficult to write but feels so important in this conversation. This is having the courage to face our mortality. Despite all of our differences, our individual paths, opinions and adventures in this life, we all have one thing in common and that is that we must all face our death. It feels uncomfortable even talking about it, doesn’t it?

When I was 29 years old, my mom, aged 46, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She should have had so many more years ahead of her, but cancer doesn’t care if you’re ready or not. I remember sitting around the dinner table and she yelled out in pain and we all thought she had bit her lip but she began to cry declaring “it hurts so much!”. She was talking about the fact that she had no choice but to let go of this life. 

So in honour of my brave mom, who faced her death like she lived her life, with resilience and determination, I acknowledge each and every one on this human journey for finding the courage to be yourself, know yourself, accept and invite change and embrace the journey. The whole universe conspired to bring you here in this moment and, that, my friends, is a gift! You are here to fly!

“Someday I’ll fly; someday I’ll soar; someday I’ll be so much damn more ’cause I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for” – From John Mayer

Do you feel inspired to make positive changes in your life and get to know yourself better? Do you crave more connection, joy and freedom to be yourself? As a health and Wellness Coach, we will explore all of this and more. Contact me for a free consultation and we can explore if coaching is for you!

Yours in health and wellness,


2 thoughts on “Courage”

  1. Suzanne Clement Thorne

    Thank you, Karyn. This is perfectly timed for me and speaks to my personal journey these days. I appreciate your words. Stay curious and courageous!

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Inner Vision Health and Wellness Karyn Lawson RMT INHC