Why have we, as women, turned away from our aggressive nature? For too long, we have denied a fundamental part of ourselves. We have chosen weakness over strength. We have chosen others instead of ourselves. Why? Because we've come to believe that our aggressive nature is wrong, that it is unacceptable, unwarranted, or unwanted. Maybe in the past it came out in the wrong way, or maybe somebody else's aggressiveness harmed us. We have relinquished the very quality that can give us the courage to stand up for ourselves. But this is not the same aggressiveness that causes people to harm others for sport, nor is it what drives the warrior gone bad to wield a weapon with the intention to dominate and destroy. Instead, this is the aggressiveness of the feminine warrior that is a part of every woman's heart—on fire with the justice of Rosa Parks; armed with the truth of divine love, like Joan of Arc; and capable of sourcing wisdom from the deepest well of her being, like Helen Keller. 

We are all born with a part of us that is determined and aggressive— an inner strength that we call upon when we fight for our children and protect our families. This can be the healthiest part of us—the part of us that has us go after something, to be ready for combat, to be ready to win, and to engage in the battles life gives us. There are times when we have to battle with the dark thoughts that are filling our minds—the lies, the misinterpretations, and the shame. There are times when we need the strength to say "Stop." We need the courage to say, "I'm not going to listen to you" or "That's not true." We need the backbone of a warrior for love if we are to be willing to go face-to-face with that which has made us feel weak, impotent, and unable to change. This is true whether we've been battling a craving because we want sugar to make us feel loved, or fighting the impulse to spend when we need to save. Maybe we need the strength of the warrior to set a boundary, to say, "No more!" or to stop enabling someone we love. Or maybe the warrior is there to save our lives when we need to fight a disease of our own or of someone we love. A warrior’s job is to do this. A warrior isn't thinking, "I'd be such a bad person. What will they think of me? I'll be all alone and I won't have any friends if I speak my truth." Or "I just have to lie down and die because I have a disease." A warrior will instead fight to be set free. 

Most women have given up their true warrior in exchange for approval, for position, for the illusion of safety. And those who may feel that they have access to their warrior might be mistaken, because most of the time that feeling is coming from a place of fear rather than a place of love, a place of control and manipulation rather than a place of compassion and understanding. The warrior who comes forth from the ego is a warrior of weakness and control—intent on its own power, designed to protect some shattered self-image—rather than a warrior for the greater power of love. A courageous warrior is a spiritual warrior, ready to fight for the Divine in all its expressions. A courageous warrior looks at each person as a divine being and each experience as a divine experience. She leads with her heart, powerfully determined to bring about the best in everyone and everything. A courageous warrior speaks out even when everyone is whispering for her to stay silent. She knows that she is powerfully sourced by something much greater than herself and that she can release the judgments of others. Self-approval becomes secondary to divine approval. A courageous warrior stands armed and ready for anything that life might throw her way—a divorce, the loss of a job, an addiction, a hurricane, an oil spill, a family illness, a deep loss, or a heartbreak—because she is filled and sourced each day by divine love and the knowledge that challenge is part of her journey. She knows that every day she will have a choice of whether to succumb to fear or to overcome fear with love, faith, and courage. She is brave enough to leave behind those who might hinder her success or diminish her value. She is confident enough to reach out to those who can help her win. A courageous warrior doesn’t succumb to the internal demons that would knock her down. Instead she fights for a higher truth—a higher love. 

Excerpted from COURAGE: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence by Debbie Ford, reprinted with permission by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2012.