What is heroism? Courage, bravery and perseverance in the face of adversity. What person has not had all three?
This is not another chapter in the pantheon of modern narcissism, but a truism. It’s not easy being human. From the littlest discomfort to the hugest existential despair, health challenge or relationship dissolution, it takes guts to get through what we dismissively call an average day.
Think of your own life. If you really look, I guarantee you will find many acts of heroism, whether related to physical, mental, relational, vocational, or emotional challenges. You are the hero in your own life. Why look up to other people for examples of courage, strength and perseverance when you can look to your own past for examples of all three?
Try this to help you shift your perspective: sit quietly. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Look back on your years. Heck, look back on the past week. Whether you’re a teenager or an octogenarian there will be plenty of difficult, frustrating times (maybe even some that brought you to your knees thinking you couldn’t cope) but you got through them. You did something you didn’t want to do, had a hard conversation with a loved one, changed an unhelpful habit, tried something scary, faced an illness, or conquered an addiction. All were challenging and took grit. Remembering how you navigated rough seas helps you appreciate your strength.
If you’re struggling now remind yourself it’s just another hurdle. You don’t have to jump over it, you can crawl under it. It doesn’t really matter how you get to the other side just that you do.
These days, there’s an inherent perfectionism in much of what you read about resilience. It’s almost as if it’s not good enough to survive, you have to do it with grace and ease. That is simply ridiculous. At the end of the day what matters is you faced the challenge. You don’t get extra points for looking as if you sailed through it. The people who make it look easy (and, believe me, it isn’t easy for anyone) encourage other people’s unrealistic ideas of how they should manage hard times. In addition, these unrealistic ideas of how to navigate hardship can trigger feelings of inadequacy as they invariably lead you to compare your inside to their outside. It doesn’t matter how you did it, gracefully or kicking and screaming, you got through it. That’s heroism, resilience and true grit. You’ve done this before and you will undoubtedly do it again and again and again until you drop the body. The very fact that you still draw breath shows how strong you are.
Refuse to add another layer of shoulds and perfectionism to the already complex and difficult proposition we all face: being human. Refuse to think that if you don’t waltz through life’s challenges with ease and equanimity you are somehow not resilient, or failing because your attitude isn’t especially sunny. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re reading this, you’re resilient. The very fact you’re drawing breath means you have survived whatever hardships life has thrown your way.
Every person walking the earth is a hero as everyone has overcome adversity many times. Celebrate yourself today for all the times you faced life’s difficulties.
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Copyright Nicole S. Urdang