If you are afraid of what other people think, if what you mostly care about is what other people think, I got bad news for you, you’re never going to do anything important, you’re never going to get over what is holding you back, and that’s a real shame.

– Ryan Holiday

For thems not familiar with term ‘warts and all’ is an idiom based on a report (maybe true) of an artist asked to paint the portrait of a prince. He was told to leave out the blemishes – the original photoshop. Rather, he painted it ‘warts and all’ for all to see the man’s true and complete features, not just the nice parts.

I don’t write much about my warts here on the blog. This is purposely done. I write those matters down in my paper journal. I avoid on-line disclosures for the usual reasons: to expose one’s vulnerable elements risks ridicule and hurt. Another reason is a professional one: patients may be reading this, as well as thems at work. The APA secret police could come poking about – and anyone else really. I am therefore careful what goes up here.

With that said I am fancying a new category of entries named “Warts and all”. In these I would discard the clowning and write things more serious. Why do this? There is the simple explanation: I want to. Another element is an exercise in courage. I am not a courageous fellow; I have spent a lifetime trying to nurture The Warrior in me. Writing about my warts (for all to see) would be useful this way.

Courage isn’t feeling fearless; courage is action despite fear. Courage isn’t like brown or blue eyes, something you are born with, and if you don’t have it you never will. I erroneously concluded since I was a different sort of boy, I wasn’t going to have the usual traits a real boy has and uses: Courage, Honor, Mastery, and Strength.* Much later I learned courage is a skill like any other: it is something learned, practiced and improved. It can be taught and developed, thank goodness.

Whenever I am lacking courage, I remember these principles:

Stop worrying about other’s opinions. To stand up and disagree with the group, or to point out a wrong, this risks other’s being angry and upset with you. Indeed, this reception is often a ‘good sign’ you have done the right thing. Truth does not mind being questioned, while Lie despises such.

Be OK with looking stupid. Speaking up or taking a risk has with it a chance of error. This too will probably result in others reacting negatively. You will be mocked. Indeed, it is another good sign of success when something is tried and the result is somebody laughs.

Another thing I find helpful is to envision my collection of ‘Strong ones”. These are the ghosts (there you go!) of people I have known in my life, courageous people, men and women, who took a stand and did what was right, despite the consequences. Sometimes they are accompanied by The Strong Ones from mythology or literature. They inspire me; they stiffen my spine in the light of adversity.

I am inundated daily with matters that test my courage. My emotional response is always a desire to turn away and crawl into a hole. I continually remind myself the obstacles are the way. “If not me, then who?” I think and I try to stand ground and do the right thing.

*More on those other topics later.