Contributed by Mary Bradley, LSCSW, LCSW
For some, just getting out of bed in the morning takes courage. Depression, for example, can be debilitating and make it difficult to get out of your head and into your daily life. For many others, most days seem easy. Many optimistic people appear to sail through their days, taking stressors in stride, remaining positive, and always holding their heads up.
Still, even seemingly happy people need courage. If not today, on some unknown day in the future something will likely pop up that requires even optimistic people to summon what is strong and fierce inside them.
It takes courage to get news that a medical scan has found something wrong, and then go back to work or making dinner as usual. It takes courage to apologize and accept responsibility for an angry outburst that hurt someone’s feelings. It takes courage to navigate a fork in the road, the point at which you make a decision that in some ways will liberate you, but in other ways could take you away from everything with which you are familiar.
It takes courage on some days just to be ourselves, let alone to show up in positive ways for others. And yet, most of us show courage in some way every single day.
Life insists that we be courageous. It’s part of our nature as humans to push through in the face of obstacles—to ask for help, take a U-turn or start over, to face bad news, to make waves, to ride them, and to eventually land on our feet. It’s what we do.
Nobody ever said if you’re afraid you’re not courageous. In fact, the definitions of courage, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, are “the ability to do something that frightens one” and “strength in the face of pain or grief.” Courage, according to these definitions, is being afraid and doing what we need to do anyway.
I have a friend who recently divorced. Her ex-husband was affected by alcoholism, and his drinking interfered with intimacy and connection in their relationship for years. My friend’s children were opposed to the divorce. Both in their teens, they worried about the changes that would happen and especially feared not living with both parents. To make matters worse, my friend’s church group stepped further back to avoid taking sides. My friend had to navigate the separation, divorce, the move of households, the disruption of her children, the change in finances, and the loss of friendships on her own. She also changed churches to create a stronger community for herself and her children.
My friend tells me now she felt as though she was moving through a blizzard as it was happening—cold, dark, and bitterly painful.
Three years later, she coaches her daughter’s soccer team, leads a support group for divorced moms, is involved again in volunteering at her children’s school, and works full time as a manager at a marketing firm. She’s one of my examples of someone who is courageous—an everyday hero, but certainly a hero.
Life insists that we be courageous. It’s part of our nature as humans to push through in the face of obstacles—to ask for help, to take a U-turn or start over, to face bad news, to make waves, to ride them, and to eventually land on our feet. It’s what we do.
If you’re struggling in the face of a life crisis, big decision, or daunting hurdle, you are courageous. Keep a tight network of trusted friends and call or text them often, eat well, get exercise, try for enough sleep, and if you need help along the road, consider contacting a mental health therapist. Talking to someone who is supportive, not judgmental, and who is trained to offer you professional advice and guidance is tremendously helpful for most of us. Sharing your vulnerable self with someone else and asking for help takes courage, too.
© Copyright 2016 by Mary Bradley, LSCSW, LCSW, therapist in Kansas City, Missouri.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above.
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