Women naturally possess an innate sense of connectedness—to God, to others, to our world, and to our own inner lives, which I call “emotional wisdom.” Because of this wonderful emotional wisdom, we are relationship specialists. But too often we let our connection to our own inner lives languish and specialize only in keeping the peace in our outer relationships. True, their demands and needs can be loud and insistent, but our challenge is to give ourselves the same love and care we so readily lavish on others.
Being emotionally independent and connected to our authentic inner selves doesn’t mean that we’ll turn into selfish and self-centered women who are unavailable to others. It does mean that we’re centered in an awareness of who we are—no longer fragmented by fear or unrealistic demands from ourselves or others. In reality, an emotionally independent woman is a happier, more loving and giving woman. As we find the freedom to express who we really, uniquely are, we tap into our inherent emotional wisdom and, as a result, create a climate around ourselves in which others can also grow, heal, and become better connected to themselves. Freed from the torment of looking outside ourselves for approval, and empowered by having our own identity, we have more to give. Plus, our lives are enhanced by a spirit of lightness and spontaneity.
Although The Courage to Be Yourself has no pat answers, it is filled with ideas and exercises designed to help you become aware of your fears, learn to transform them, move from emotional dependence to strength, and enhance self-esteem. Freed from the shackles of limiting fear, you can give yourself permission to own your own excellence and live up to your highest potential.
Even as we make progress, we may long to return to the easy fantasy that it’s okay to be emotionally dependent, that others will take care of us, that it’s their responsibility to keep us safe and support us. To really know that the buck stops with ourselves is frightening, but it’s also extremely freeing to realize that we can be strong, independent, confident, and in control of ourselves. We are all—men and women—called to grow up and to assume responsibility for ourselves. As grown-ups we are better able to love—independently, interdependently, and joyfully.
We women are emotionally wise and wonderfully courageous. We have what it takes to overcome our fear-full inner dragons and live our lives expressing our true selves. I have been honored to walk with many women as they courageously tamed their dragons and surmounted obstacles and traumas that had once nearly destroyed their faith in themselves. As I said earlier, we teach what we need to learn the most, and that is certainly true in my case. So, as you read these pages, know that we are walking together. Live gently with yourself as you continue your journey toward being who you authentically are. Be patient with yourself, and please don’t try to go it alone.