Self Questioning

free image from Dreamstime

“To have the courage to

Question one’s certainties, is

True courage.”

~ The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Sit with this a while and see what comes up for you…

Bringing our awareness to the beliefs that we hold, and usually take for granted, is the first step in our personal growth and spiritual self inquiry. When we look inwards and question our thinking and assumptions, it opens up new perspectives and gives us the opportunity to learn about what has been unknown…. or what may never be discoverable in this life.

This venture into the unknown is a courageous path because the ego-mind will be alert for any conflicting views or threats to its long held position. The ego holds on to those beliefs that have become our certainties about life. It can keep us rigid, stubborn, critical and damning, or simply safe and stuck.

The choice is ours. To embrace the new or hold on to our certainties.

To those on the path of Yoga teacher training, take courage as you embrace what is beyond belief.



Breaking All the Rules

break free

There are moments when rules
are meant to be broken; when
bursting out of context is the
sole way to see with new eyes.
There are fences built only to
be torn down. The slats look
solid, but no one drove the nail
in tight. There are barricades
around the heart asking to be
breached. Sooner and later we
all run out of excuses for
staying small and safe.

~ Danna Faulds

May we all find the love and courage within us to break free!


Beautifully expressed thoughts on Thich Nhat Hahn’s words. Thank you Shobhna.

Hatred and fear blind us,

We no longer see each other,

We only see the faces of monsters and

that gives us the courage

to destroy each other

by Thich Nhat Hahn.

I read this recently and it explains so much of what is happening within relationships around the world. I have been concerned about the amount of hatred that is present in speeches given by leaders and the actions being taken against groups of people globally. Courage rooted in hatred and fear will eventually dissolve, but after having harmed people and the earth. We have seen this happen over and over again in our history. In destroying others we invariably destroy ourselves too.

Removing fear and hatred within our own minds takes courage. Because we are left feeling vulnerable without the protection of the monsters face to scare others with. As that monstrous face peels of, the authentic, genuine…

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* Greeting Card Words

have courage and be kind“We can talk about courage and love and compassion until we sound like a greeting card store, but unless we’re willing to have an honest conversation about what gets in the way of putting these into practice in our daily lives, we will never change.”

~ Bréne Brown

This made me pause. There are so many of us who can be stuck in the place of wishing the words to transform our lives.  Yet, greeting card words are not enough.

It made me think about what gets in the way of living from a place of compassion, or as Bréne Brown puts it, living “wholeheartedly”.

And what keeps coming to mind again and again is that we can only be courageous and kind when we become aware of our inner world of thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and accept ourselves fully.

When we accept all aspects of ourselves without judgment, then we are able to let go of what other people think. This takes courage.

It takes an inner resilience to look at the parts of ourselves that are hidden or that we may not like.

We have to be brave to look at the stories we have created for ourselves and see them for just that – stories.

It takes courage to let go of what we have always counted on to reinforce who we want to be; to become vulnerable to the truth instead of covering it up or denying it; to show our authentic face to the world.

Bréne Brown gets to the heart of the matter beautifully: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

~ Bréne  Brown

This is dedicated to all of you who have found the courage to be authentic, express your real self, and connect to your inner being. You rock!!

* Be a Bold Writer

courageous writer

“If a writer is so cautious he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If  you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.”

~ Thomas Merton

This is an alternative version of this morning’s post.

What’s the Difference Between Strength and Courage?

Courage comes from the French word “coeur” meaning heart. Being courageous means facing our fears and coming from our heart rather than our head. Its a place where we face our vulnerabilities and overcome them through compassion and love. As a child in Scotland I was told I had to be strong.

Scottish-LuckenboothThis isn’t just a family legacy, but a whole cultural one! We Scots are independent and strong. But we also have big hearts, often hidden behind the strong exterior. The Scottish Luckenbooth symbolizes our heart and our national pride…. But I’m getting sidetracked here!

Here is an inspirational poem about the difference between Strength and Courage to help you choose for yourself. If anyone knows the author, please let me know. Val x

The Difference Between Strength and Courage 

It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to stand guard,
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt

It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide your own pains,
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another

It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.

~ David L. Griffith

Whenever you feel you have neither, may the heart of the universe hug you today with its warmth, and love.

And may the wind carry a voice that tells you there is a friend sitting in another corner of the world wishing you well!


* We Can’t Change Another Person But We Can …

Its one of the hardest lessons in the highs and lows of life. Accepting that others really are different and we can’t change them … no matter how much we want it!

mother daughter conflict

We can never make an other person change, no matter how hard we try. We can make requests. We can show them how we want them to be. We can manipulate them or even resort to nagging and bullying … but in the end it will always be up to them.  They have to be willing to change themselves.

As adult human beings we only have the ability to change ourselves.

We do have options however! That is what this post is about. You can apply this checklist at work, at home and in any situation where you are having difficulty with an other person.

Here are the 5 options I share with my clients and would now like to share with you.

Before you jump ahead, take a moment to think about a recent difficult interaction and how you wished that person would change in some way.


Now consider these 5 approaches.

1. Can you make a request of them? Can you share with them the impact of their behavior and how you feel, then request a different behavior?

2. Can you change your own actions? How might you have contributed to this situation? What can you do differently?

3. Can you change your thinking and re-frame by seeing things from different perspectives? From their perspective? And as an observer?

4. Can you open our heart and find empathy for the other person as an imperfect human being? … just like you! Can you accept them for who they are, faults and all? This is the spiritual path of acceptance and compassion.

5. The final option is the remove yourself from their company. Step away and regroup. You can review these options and if it keeps coming to option 5, then consider making a break from this person.

So next time when you realize you are expecting someone else to change, instead of going over the same old frustrating negative thoughts and habitual responses, try a new mindful approach.

And keep practicing …

I certainly still am!



* Hidden Secrets #7 – Courage

A beautiful photo to match inspiring words today from Pat. Val x

Source of Inspiration


It is impossible to eliminate
all fear from our life.
True courage is the ability
to act positively
when we are most afraid.

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The Complete Serenity Prayer

The serenity prayer is an inspiring piece for people struggling with life challenges. It helps us become grounded and find our Middle Ground: that place to find serenity, courage and wisdom in the waves  of life.

What most of understand as the serenity prayer is actually the first stanza of an entire prayer written in 1943, most probably by Reinhold Niebuhr.

prayerI have written before about how we can bring the Serenity Prayer to life by asking ourselves certain questions. See my earlier post Are there Missing Words from the Serenity Prayer?

Now I want to bring more meaningful perspectives here by sharing the entire prayer.

The Complete Serenity Prayer

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

What resonates with me, is how I can bring this into my daily life. So I’ve let go of the the language of Christianity and penned my thoughts here.

Let go of trying to control things that are out of my hands.

Find the courage to take control in areas that I can AND should.

Take one day at a time. Enjoy each moment at a time. 

Accept life as it unfolds… both the highs and the lows.

Trust in a higher power that makes life okay.

What resonates with you my friends?





* Forgive and Let Go

“The day a child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent;

the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult;

the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.” – Alden Nowlan

forgive and let go

Much has been written about forgiveness – forgiving others for an offense or hurt in the past, and forgiving ourselves for something we feel ashamed of. Whether its about external or internal forgiveness, it seems to come down to one important key … Our ability to let go.

I’ve discovered in my interactions and conversations with others, that the more we tend to try to control and want things in a certain way, the harder it can be to forgive.

Forgiveness and an ability to let go, seem to go hand in hand.

I wonder how this resonates with you. Do you find it relatively easy to forgive in a world that is constantly changing? Do you live in shades of colors and gray rather than black and white? Can you empathise easily with others?

Or do you find it almost impossible to forgive when you have been wronged? Do you also see the world in terms of a right way and a wrong way. Do you rush to judge others as good and bad or want to find who is to blame?

Let me know if my theory stands up in real life!

Here are the 4 steps that have worked for me in working through forgiving myself or an other:

1. Acknowledge what happened and the hurt. Your distress is coming from the thoughts within you now, not from what offended or hurt you in the past.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha

2. Make a decision to forgive or not. Do I want to hold on to resentment or let it go? Do I want to feel like this? We are under no obligation or pressure to forgive. However, holding a grudge becomes a debilitating drain on our health and can poison our outlook on life. We become a prisoner to it.
When we truly forgive, we are doing it for our sake, not the other person’s. It is the most important step in healing ourselves from the hurt of the past. Forgiving brings us the gift of peace.

forgive and be at peace

3. Seek to understand. Can I see the other person’s perspective or point of view? You don’t need to accept or agree with them at all. Remember that we all want to be happy. To be loved and accepted. How we go about it is based on our own life experiences and upbringing. A bully has almost always been bullied themselves. People who are causing us pain are usually in pain. This is the human condition.

4. Shift your own perspective. What do I want this pain to turn into? Instead of going over in your mind why something happened, or how horrible the actions were, visualize what your life will be like after the pain is gone.
Start seeking ways to get what you want. Look for love, beauty and kindness around you. Its there!

Forgiving and letting go is an act of will and an act of courage.

By letting go of the anger and resentment within you and replacing it with compassion for yourself, you become free. Free to be you – and no longer a victim defined by an other’s actions.


* Strength and Courage in Life

Not too long ago I shared a poem from an unknown author about the difference between strength and courage. It is very inspiring. Many of us think of strength and courage as being similar, but in my experience their essence and their impact are very different.

To make this really resonate, take a moment and ask yourself these two questions as I did:

  • What is the strongest thing you have ever done?…..

When I think of the answer .. words that come up for me are willpower, tenacity, stick-to-it-ness, pushing, driving, reaching, perseverance, battle through, grit, not caving in … acts of will.

  • What is the most courageous thing you have ever done? …..

When I think of the answer … its all about facing my own fears… being vulnerable… opening my heart.

woman walking into futureCourage brings about personal change and often leads to profound insights and transformation.

The most courageous people I know are curious, compassionate, accepting, forgiving and open. They have gone through many highs and many deep lows of life and found their Middle Ground to nourish, replenish and inspire themselves and others. They are life’s thrivers.

Strength strengthens and often reinforces the existing structure.

The strongest people I know are single minded, headstrong, know what is right,  are somewhat inflexible and usually intense. They have persevered through the highs and lows of life yet find it hard to connect  to their own Middle Ground and a sense of peace. They are life’s survivors.

Bring courage and strength together however, and we can change not only ourselves, but the world.

change the world  Namaste

* To be Whole …

interconnected and opposite in nature

“To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.

Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.

Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power. “

Lao Tzu from The Tao Te Ching

These wise words remind me of the opposing nature of things and how acting in the opposite way may bring us what we yearn for. Knowing ourselves fully takes courage … to look at the opposing natures within ourselves.

What resonates with you?