If you’ve overcome these 7 obstacles, you’re braver than you realize

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We tend to think of brave and courageous people as faraway, iconic figures. 

These are the legendary figures of history, the athletes who won gold medals, the heroes who died saving lives. 

But courage isn’t always broadcast on the nightly news, and many of the bravest things that ever happen remain “unreported.”

The truth is that if you’ve overcome these seven obstacles you’re much braver than you realize.

1) Heartbreak and rejection

If you’ve been through heartbreak and rejection and you’re still standing then you’re much braver than you realize. 

This is not a contest, but the truth is not everyone does make it through heartbreak and rejection

I have close friends and family members who faced a major divorce or heartbreak and simply couldn’t come back from it. 

They refused to ever discuss the past breakup that tore them apart, and simply pretended to be OK while silently falling apart.

They walled themselves off and never dated again, pretending that love and romance simply aren’t very important to them anymore. 

Whether or not you’re dating again, if you’ve been badly rejected or had your heart broken and you face that and admit you’re not OK, you’re already much braver than everyone who pretends to be OK and denies themselves a chance. 

2) Physical fear and hardship

If you’ve overcome physical fear and difficulty and pushed your limits physically, then you’re more courageous than you realize. 

This can include many things and doesn’t just mean bungee jumping or going skydiving. 

Physical bravery isn’t just on the battlefield or the typical feats we associate with extreme bravery, it’s also in context of what physically scares you.

If you’re afraid of doing Crossfit because you’ve had ongoing cardiac issues but your doctor gives you the green light and you go for it and rock it, you’re brave, there’s no doubt about it! 

But for the experienced mountaineer an ascent part way up Mount Everest is the challenge that gets her blood boiling at fever pitch and surpasses other physically brave feats… 

As for the physical hardship side, that really depends on your situation: 

It could be learning to live with a disability you were born with such as a clubfoot or speech impediment…

It could be adjusting to a nasty sports injury that stopped your ability to play hockey for two years…

3) Mental fear and hardship 

If you’ve faced mental fear and hardship without letting it run you’re life, you’re made of tough stuff

Mental fear and hardship depends once again on the context. 

That’s because what’s mentally difficult for one person is not equally or even comparably difficult for another. 

It may be that you have an intense fear of heights but went up the CN Tower and stayed there for half an hour without having a panic attack…Whereas for another person this is enjoyable! 

It could be that you’re terrified of getting lost in a foreign place but went traveling alone in Greece with only your phone and Google translate…Whereas for a second person their anxiety is more about being overly controlled and having a trip too regimented! 

For the intensely agoraphobic man, a successful trip to the grocery store is like not thinking about the feeling of 100 people trying to stab him…

For the person who’s horrified about too much time spent staying alone, by contrast, a trip to the grocery store could be a liberating and fun experience. 

What do you fear even though you know it’s not necessarily dangerous?

It could be spending time around your mother-in-law, getting cancer or losing your job. These may all be reasonable and real dangers in a certain context, with varying degrees of probability. 

If you’ve conquered these fears enough to live your life without these as a constant stress on you, then you’re much braver than you realize! 

4) Personal loss and tragedy

If you’ve suffered the loss of somebody close to you or tragedy in your life and you’re still waking up and getting up out of the bed in the morning, you’re a hero.

Whether or not other people understand what you’ve been through, you know it. 

After deep loss such as the death of a loved one you’ll never be the same. Nor should you be the same. 

Just as we change forever when somebody we love comes to us, we also change in certain real ways when they leave us. 

But if you’re still getting up in the morning and making an effort, you’re more courageous than you know! 

5) Career loss and upheaval

Life currently offers more opportunities than any time in history and it’s not even close. 

The growth of technology, modern travel and global trade has opened up the entire world. 

The downsides of that are obviously also starting to become apparent, especially in the psychological distress being felt in many societies and the rapidly accelerating pace of career disruption and change. 

If you are weathering this storm and have managed to brave changes to your career in a courageous and stolid way, then you’re stronger than you know. 

As hard as life used to be, it wasn’t generally so full of changes in career!

Adjusting on the fly is difficult no matter what age you’re at, and the fact you’re still trying your best is a testament to the power of your will and heart. 

6) Exclusion and being underestimated

If you’ve ever been excluded from something important or underestimated and managed to get over that hurt, then you’re more courageous than you think. 

Many people mock the idea of being “normal” or say that being different is great and fun. 

These are usually people who haven’t truly been excluded or bullied in life. 

Those of us who have understand that not being included, and being told you’re different when you don’t want to be is not “cool” or “fun.”

It’s not a badge you choose, nor is being different necessarily in a flashy, bright-colored, “fantastic” way that the media portrays in their propaganda.

You may be different like past authors who people found unapproachable, socially awkward or depressing. 

But when you have no choice but to be who you are and who you are is underestimated or rejected by some of mainstream society, you have a choice:

Withdraw into your shell, apologize and wait a few decades until the “normal” people admit you were just ahead of the curve…

Or stand up for what you believe in and follow your goals and dreams regardless of outer validation. 

7) Being stuck in the past or the future

No matter how difficult or easy somebody’s life looks from the outside, there’s one huge obstacle that traps almost all of us.

That obstacle is getting stuck in the past or in the future. 

The reason it’s so easy to get stuck is because this is a four-tined trident:

You may get stuck in the past because it was so idyllic and nice, or because it was so traumatic and upsetting. 

You may get stuck on dreams of the future because you’re so excited and optimistic or because you’re so worried and anxious. 

But no matter which of these you’re engaging in, they’re taking away your ability to act and pay attention to this present moment. 

That’s why if you can resist the urge to focus on the past or future and focus on what’s in your control right now, you’re braver than you think. 

The power, but also the responsibility, of what to do right now in this moment is more than most choose to handle. 

What is courage, really? 

The word courage comes from the Latin word “cor,” for heart, and by the 1300s from the Old French “corage” also meaning heart. 

This isn’t just the physical ventricles pumping blood in our chest, of course. 

Heart is what makes the boxer get up from the mat when everybody else counts him out…

Heart is what powers soldier to keep fighting for his comrades when the shrapnel is flying and most others would just run…

Heart is standing up for who you are and what you believe in even when it’s unpopular or unprofitable…

At the end of the day courage is being true to yourself, but it’s also more:

It’s being true to who you know you can be if you put in your full effort, will and power of vision. 

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