“Clarence Darrow once said, “The most human thing we can do is comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Self-Awareness-Energy has the courage to do both.
One might think that Self-Awareness-Energy’s “it’s all okay” sense of grace would lead to a detached passivity and acceptance of the injustices of life, but that’s not the nature of Self-Awareness-Energy. The clarity of Self-Awareness-Energy makes it hard for people to deny injustice and ignore suffering. The compassion of the Self-Awareness-Energy leads people to resist tyranny and fight for the oppressed. The words of Self-Awareness-Energy bring hope to the hopeless. Self-Awareness-Energy seeps into the cracks in the tyrant’s walls and gradually erodes them.
Consequently, oppressors attack people whoever they show any signs of Self-Awareness-Energy Leadership. Abusers know that this is the way to control people, which is why virtually all my clients who have been severely sexually abused report that any time they acted in a spirited, spontaneous, or independent way, they were either verbally or physically punished. As a result, they came to fear Self-Awareness-Energy and keep it out of their body.
Thus, rather than making people passive, confidence and grace have the opposite effect. If we don’t fear attack because we are as vulnerable, and if we trust that we can handle the consequences, courage is much more accessible to us. If we know that everyone is a wave in the same ocean, we will challenge injustice without judgement. As Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed it, “We must realize that the evil deed of the enemy neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst energy.” Elsewhere he wrote:
[Nonviolence] does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to when his friendship and understanding . . . it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love . . . if I respond to hate with reciprocal hate, I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in a broken community. I can only close the gap in a broken community by meeting hate with love. (King, 1994, pp. 211-214)
Courage is not only about being a voice for the disenfranchised. It often takes more courage to recognize the damage we do to others and try to make amends. Clarity helps us to see what we have done and, if we have confidence, to understand that mistakes don’t mean we are bad people. We will have the courage to listen to the other’s story with curiosity apologize sincerely, and ask what can be done to repair the damage. The Self-Aware-Energy Led person not only has the courage to act but also the courage to be accountable for acting.
As a client’s Self-Aware-Energy emerges, he or she increasingly demonstrates another aspect of courage — the willingness to go toward his or her pain and shame. Client’s internal joruneys often involve entering the most frightening places in their psyches. There they often wind up witnessing events in their past that they had tried to minimize the impact of or forge entirely. In turn, this witnessing often leads to a clearer view of key relationships in the outside world and the determination to change those relationships. These changes sometimes involve financial and emotional risk. It takes courage to look and courage to act on what we see.”
—Dick Schwartz, Internal Family Systems Model, Beginning Page 42
1. strengthin the face of threat, challenge or danger
2. the willingness to be take action toward a goal that others would find overwhelming
3. the ability to recognize the damage we do to others then take action to make amends
4. the willingness to reflect and “go inside” toward our own pain and shame, carefully examine it and act on what we see