Discover the Secret to True Courage | Omega

Women can lead differently, says the late Debbie Ford, a pioneer in using shadow work as a spiritual practice. By doing the personal work to have emotional freedom and a compassionate heart, she says women can find their inner warrior and forge ahead with love.

Omega: In your book, Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence, you write that most women have given up on their inner warrior in exchange for approval, position, or the illusion of safety. How can we understand the difference between true courage and the sense of confidence that lives only on the surface of things?

Debbie: What we often call courage is when we muscle up­—we take all of our strength and we barrel through, and it’s just forceful, often without thinking or feeling. But the courage that I’m talking about is this divine inner strength that we are all born with, the strength to be our most authentic self and to take powerful actions that are consistent with our loving, compassionate heart.

Many women don’t have access to this part. They don’t have the courage to get out of their relationships, or to handle an addiction, or to set boundaries and say no. When you’re really sitting in your divine courage, your divine strength, these things are natural, because you’re looking from the perspective of what is in the highest and best interest for the world, for those around you, for yourself.

So how do we tell the difference? One is filled with anxiety, or force, or roughness, and the other is gentle and tender. Even if our voices are raised or we’re demanding change from somebody else, we are doing it with a loving heart.

Omega: As more women move into positions of power and leadership, their approach is often to mirror the way things have been, imitating a masculine style of courage or confidence. How can they develop a courage muscle that is more connected to the heart?

Debbie: If we don’t communicate from our hearts, we think we can boss people around. We think our way is the right way. To do it differently, it’s important to do the personal work to have emotional freedom and a compassionate heart, to build up your relationship with your inner warrior who is there to forge ahead in love. It’s there to fight for our families, but in love; to fight for our dignity, but in love.

The kind of love that says, “I love my child” is easy love. But real love is an opening of the heart. When the heart is open, we feel love and compassion for everyone. We’ve all had those moments where we’re not plugged in, we’re not wound up about something, and we just feel good about who we are and who other people are—even if they’re acting out and behaving badly. It’s from this place we can set boundaries and lead in healthy amazing ways.

© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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