Courage is embracing fear and seeing it for what it is …
and what it is not. It takes courage to identify and release
the illusion of fear’s power over us. It is this courage that
moves us forward in a determined way toward freedom,
love, and joy.
It takes courage to look at our lives, our relationships,
our marriages, and what we fear that keeps us supporting
unhealthy and often destructive behaviors instead of
choosing healthy, supportive ones. People often say, “I
do not want to hurt him [or her].” The reality is that
most of us knowingly stay in horrible situations rather
than risk change that would better our lives because we
fear separation from someone or something we value.
Keeping the status quo, no matter how bad it is, can often
be a control mechanism. It takes real courage to let go of
our fear of change—which we initially see as loss—and
to embrace change as being supported by the Spirit that
dwells in and around us.
Our hearts are eternally grateful for our many
opportunities to meet people in diverse cultures who
have demonstrated enormous courage when faced with
frighteningly fearful life challenges.
Diane Barnes, M.D., is one of those people. As a third-generation physician practicing at Kaiser Permanente
San Rafael Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay
area, she had a very busy life. She was juggling a full-time career in diagnostic radiology with being a single
mother to two very active boys when she suddenly
suffered a debilitating stroke.
Shortly afterward, Diane came to our Center for
Attitudinal Healing. The stroke caused aphasia (a
condition that makes communication difficult because it
interferes with using language), so when she was finally
able to speak again, what came out of her mouth was
an incomprehensive jumble she describes as a “word
salad.” No one had a clue what she meant when she spoke
because she made no sense. This caused her to experience
a lot of stress in everyday life, especially when her 12-
and 14-year-old boys could not understand her needs or
In time, however, she began to do improvisation as
part of her therapy. How much courage do you think it
takes to stand up in front of others without a script and
discuss just about anything? And to do this with stroke-traumatized speech and movement? More than we can
even imagine. She so enjoyed the improvisation work and
found it so helpful in her recovery that during her years
of extended healing, she took classes in performance and
acting to improve this ability.
Eventually, she created a one-woman play called My
Stroke of Luck that she has performed around the country.
After sold-out performances in Los Angeles and Off
Broadway in New York City, and then performing at
the Atlanta Black Theater Festival, she did a run in San
Francisco. We attended one of the performances, which
we found to be an amazing experience. We witnessed
someone who not only can speak normally now but who
is also sharing her own healing journey to help others.
It takes tremendous courage not to give up and give
in to despair. It takes monumental courage for a shy,
private person to perform alone on stage and to expose
her deepest vulnerability. This is the very definition of
courage—facing head-on what frightens us most and
having strength in the face of fear.
Examining how our attitudes determine our experiences
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
GERALD JAMPOLSKY, M.D., AND
DIANE CIRINCIONE-JAMPOLSKY, PH.D.,
ARE THE FOUNDERS OF ATTITUDINAL
HEALING INTERNATIONAL. TOGETHER AND
SEPARATELY, THEY’VE AUTHORED 16 BOOKS.
Facing What Frightens Us Most
IT TAKES TREMENDOUS
COURAGE NOT TO GIVE
UP AND GIVE IN