When people think of courage, they probably think of firefighters that run into a burning building, or a stranger who intervenes in a bad or wrong situation, or frontline soldiers in a battle half a world away.
But what about the acts of everyday courage?
Like the person who struggles to even get out of bed, or the person who struggles with agoraphobia who can barely go to the grocery store so they will have food, or the mother who suffers from postpartum depression and barely wants to look at her newborn, or the person who suffers from so much pain they can barely function, or the person who is contemplating suicide asking for help.
We tend to ignore the little things, but from someone who has regularly suffered from anxiety and mental health issues, and watched my husband suffer from anxiety, I know how hard it is to keep going. Those wins need to be acknowledged and celebrated – even if it is just a pat on the back from yourself. I try to express my gratitude to my husband – to let him know how proud I was of him – because I’ve seen how devastated he can become when life weighs on him.
“These mountains you’re carrying, you were only meant to climb”
This also reminds me of a quote from Rachel Hollis:
“They are standing on the mountain top of success, and what you don’t realize is that they are actually standing on a mountain top of one failure, one trauma, one hard thing after another but they’re standing on top of it instead of buried underneath it”
Everyone struggles, this I firmly believe. It can be going to a job you hate because you have to pay the bills. It can be standing up to a bully or even just walking away from gossip because it’s not productive for your mental health. It can be retraining your brain to find gratitude in the everyday. It can be skipping the weekly “girls night out” because binge drinking and eating crappy foods leaves you feeling unwell for days. It’s going to your doctor and bringing up a problem you’ve been too embarrassed to talk about. It’s having a conversation with a loved one that you’re concerned about their wellbeing. It’s sending that email asking a well-known person to contribute to your blog. It’s picking up that pen and starting to write that book. It’s going back to school to get your high school diploma. It’s being overweight and taking that first step into the gym. It’s deciding to stop smoking or using drugs or drinking alcohol. It’s about talking to your partner about things that bother you. It’s following your heart and starting a business. It’s about going to an event by yourself because no one else will go with you. It’s creating art knowing you may not sell it but creating it brings you joy.
Struggles are a part of life. Pain will happen. Anxiety can happen. But you mustn’t succumb to it. Don’t be so overwhelmed with what has happened or what might happen because chances are, these are stories your mind is telling you and not based on fact.
And this is why it’s important to be kind; most people you see will be dealing with stuff you will never know about. Your best friend is likely keeping something from you. Your partner might be hiding a dark secret.
For me, it was about my alcohol/drug addiction/dependency. It was never “bad enough” to raise flags with him. He never saw it. I lied to my doctor about the quantity of OTC drugs I was taking – and even what I did tell her concerned her! I had tried giving up alcohol in the past – usually after a bad situation which I’ve mentioned in past posts – but over a couple weeks or a month, I’d slowly start drinking again until I was back using it to numb and escape and the drug cocktails. I knew that my husband would support me quitting drinking once I made this confession. He was shocked. My best friend was shocked. And I mustered more courage and confessed to my BFF the jealousy I’ve felt towards her from the start of our friendship – about 15 years. It was great getting that off my chest!
Life isn’t about huge acts of courage – it’s many small acts of courage that leads to an extraordinary life!
So don’t be afraid! Take a deep breath, count down from five, and move!