Four Themes in the Courage Pillar:


1. Unilateral Value

2. Speaking from the Heart

3. Asking for What You Want

4. Forgiving Yourself and Others

Topics covered in this pillar:


  • Seeing real threats in relationships, but not over-estimating them.
  • Why the stance of non-harming others and oneself is so valuable.
  • Becoming more aware of anger in all its forms, including exasperation, annoyance, irritability, fault-finding, touchiness, feeling aggrieved, getting critical, feeling affronted, and resentment.
  • Recognizing the costs of anger for yourself and for others. Personal assessment of ways you feel and express anger.
  • Seeing the difference between being strong, firm, direct, even fiery – but not angry. Grounding yourself increasingly in the sweet spot of being both assertive and kind: strength with heart.
  • Recognizing the intentions you attribute to others. Seeing the actions of others as the result of countless causes, most of which have nothing to do with you. When it is appropriate to see life in a more impersonal way, and not take the actions of others so personally.
  • The power of unilateral virtue. Why it’s good to live by your own code even when others don’t. How to take maximum reasonable personal responsibility for addressing the wants, upsets, or grievances of others.
  • Strengthening interpersonal communication skills. What constitutes “wise speech.” The methods of “nonviolent communication.” Working with common gender differences in communicating and interacting.
  • How to create a framework of mutual understanding, mutual agreement, in important relationships. Developing a sense of healthy entitlement to have others keep their agreements with you. How to talk about and mend broken agreements.
  • How to draw on the skills, strengths, and inner allies developed in FWB to support your fuller self-expression. Identifying and as appropriate, delivering your undelivered communications.
  • Unilaterally taking care of your own needs in relationships. How to establish a true basis for trust. How to shrink relationships to a size that is safe and supported by its underlying true basis.
  • Becoming comfortable with acknowledging faults, or seeing ways you could be more skillful in relationships. How to make amends, repair upsets, and make corrections from now on. Moving on after you have done what you can.
  • How to forgive others. How to forgive yourself.
  • Engaging life, including its challenges, on the basis of an increasingly unconditional internal sense of peace.

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Daniel Ellenberg
Katherine Woodward Thomas