5 Ways You Are Braver Than You Believe
Many of us, especially those facing the loss of loved ones, the end of relationships, or sudden job loss, are no strangers to the feelings of sadness, anger, and uncertainty that can follow. If you’re reading this now, searching for strength and guidance to cope with these changes, know that you’re not alone. This is a place of understanding, where we’ll explore how to find that ‘courage in adversity’ you may not realize you possess.
I’m no stranger to profound loss having experienced the decline and eventual death of my beloved husband in June 2023 from cancer. This journey has taught me that under our vulnerability is an innate courage that helps us get through the darkest of times.
Today I want to remind you that even in your most fragile moments you have a remarkable inner strength.
Yes, you do have these qualities.
1. You Deal With Change
Change can be daunting when it arrives uninvited. The courage to face this new reality is not about fearlessness – anxiety is normal – it’s about taking those uncertain steps forward. If you look at the smaller things that happen, like a road closed on your route, how do you deal internally with that? You go a different way. It’s annoying but you make it right in your head and take that different route.
I remember the fear of life without Richard when we heard of his terminal diagnosis. We both took this onboard as a message to live in every remaining moment. His attitude and our love gave me positive memories and a determination to keep going when he died.
Let go of your expectations. The present and the future are now different. You can do this.
Work out what you can control. You make decisions about how you react. Do you walk into darkness, or into light?
2. You Keep Going Despite Setbacks
When something unexpected happens it can often feel overwhelming, especially when it means you can’t keep going as you are. Setbacks, as bad as they are, often have positives: they just need to be found. Even the small things, like someone smiling and saying hello can change a situation. They help you keep going.
We all have a wealth of coping skills, gathered through our lives as we faced problems in the past. How would we have got to where we were otherwise?
We encountered many setbacks on my husband’s journey through cancer. I was determined he would get the best care, and at times had to think ‘out of the box’ for this to happen. Giving up wasn’t an option.
One small step at a time. Think of all of the positive things you have done. We sometimes forget about these.
You have the courage to get through.
3. You Reach Out For Help When Needed
At times of overwhelming loss and grief, asking for support is not a weakness. It’s an act of self-compassion. We all like to think that we shouldn’t bother others, sort out our own problems, but sometimes it’s better to lean on, vent at, or ask a friend or family for help. It helps others understand what’s going on for us as well, so they know when to be there and when not.
If it wasn’t for the support of my friends and family in my time of highest grief I couldn’t have mentally coped. It took strength to make that decision, to let others share my pain.
Think of the times you’ve been stuck for a lift, needed to tell someone what’s just happened to you, or wanted someone at the bottom of the ladder to make sure you don’t wobble.
You already do this.
Send a message to someone you know. Touch base.
4. You Find Comfort in the Small Moments
Amidst all of the sometimes overwhelming thoughts and feelings, finding comfort in the simplest of moments is a way of self-care. Pausing to look at the sunset, or drinking a cup of tea can be a beautiful thing. Go with what you need. It helps keep you going. You do it every day. It’s in things like your memories on social media, a piece of jewellery or writing.
As I walk the town I see flowers blooming in November. A small patch of bright colour in the autumn lifts me.
You can find joy in the unexpected moments. It bolsters courage in adversity.
Take your mind away from the worries for a short while. Focus on something you like. Or just stop. See what happens.
5. You Still Have Dreams
You may have had plans before your adversity – dreams and passions. It might seem they are gone, but it’s a different future now and that’s not to say you can’t think about what you would love to do. They might be fragile, but they are there still. It takes bravery to even think of them.
I was writing a book when Richard was diagnosed. My dream was to finish it and get it published within a year. I was determined this was my year. It had to be shelved as Richard went through treatments, operations, and then declined and died. I have picked it up again, and am due to finish it in February. I am determined, and I know it’s something he wanted me to do.
Hope builds courage. Your dreams deserve to be nurtured.
Think about where you want to be in a year’s time.
You Have Courage in Adversity
Reflecting on these points should help you realise that you are far stronger than you believe. Life’s trials can at times be devastating, but we have an inner resilience that we can tap into. Remember that bravery often manifests in the quietest of ways, and it’s important to be gentle with yourself as you navigate through hard times.
If you feel comfortable you can share your own stories of strength and resilience in the comments below. It might help and encourage others in similar situations.
My friend, you do have courage in adversity!
Read about Richard’s fundraising:
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Julie is a writer and has worked in mental health for 34 years. Richard her husband received a diagnosis of an aggressive cancer in 2021 and died in June 2023. He raised money for Teenage Cancer Trust through his Motorcycle Church Challenge. Julie continues this with the Church Walk Challenge as she navigates her way through grief.