I’m reading “Journey to the Heart of Aikido”. In the question and answer part with Anno Sensei a student asks about having an open heart without giving in to fear, criticism or competitiveness:
As I train, I would like to develop a bigger heart. But what I focus on is not whether my heart is big or small, or the expansiveness of what I am showing to other people. I think mostly about simply being myself, and not worrying about how that looks to other people. Not trying to make things different than they are. Being my natural self. There could be a better answer to your question, but I am giving you my real thoughts. When I’m talking with you, I’d like whatever is inside me to emerge naturally. My words may come out smoothly or I may trip over them. But even if I trip, it’s the real me, stumbling out. Don’t we all experience the desire to show ourselves to others as better, more polished, than we really are? It’s best to let that go. Show your real self. This is important in the practice of Aikido technique as well. We all want to improve, and to show others how skillful we have become. But the techniques of your true self must emerge naturally.
This is a kind of courage most people will never know. Of course, as with every virtue, there is a corrupted form: in this case, narcissism. But the kind of transparency Anno Sensei is talking about is one predicated on love. This is an openness that is both genuine and vulnerable. It is confident because it does not seek its worth from the judgment of the other. It simply seeks to love him, rooted in its own strength.