By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
What does it take to be a hero?
Now, more than ever, we need some heroes. Unfortunately, the greatest heroes often go unrecognized. Being rich, famous or popular doesn’t make you a hero. Sometimes well-known people are heroes, but it’s not their wealth, fame, or popularity that makes them a hero. The hero in your life could be someone no one else recognizes. The hero who transforms your life might be that elementary school teacher or the college professor who believes in you when others didn’t. The hero in your life might be the parent who works two jobs so that you can have a better life. The hero in your life story, the one who changes things in your family for the better might be you.
Storytellers throughout the ages have studied a phenomenon they call the hero’s journey. Sometimes it’s hard to identify a hero until you get to the end of the story. You may only recognize the heroes in your life by hindsight. Others may never see the heroism it takes for you to live your life. What makes someone a hero?
Heroes don’t have it easy.
It doesn’t take much courage or heroism to accomplish things when you live an easy life, and everything’s coming your way. Every genuine hero has had to face an incredible challenge. Heroes do the hard stuff; the things other people would rather avoid. They do the necessary tasks day in and day out whether anyone else recognizes their struggles. They often must do unpopular things because it’s the right thing to do. Great heroes are often ordinary people who do extraordinary things when the challenge comes.
Heroes don’t start out planning to slay dragons.
The greatest heroes, those in stories and legends, and those we will meet in our lives don’t go out looking for struggles. A hero doesn’t go up and down the street looking for someone to fight. The heroes we most admire are the ones who would’ve preferred to a live quiet, peaceful life, but when the challenge came, they didn’t run from it. Heroes don’t undertake their quest for the round of applause. Heroes do what they do because something inside of them will not let them turn away from the struggle.
Heroes face problems others run from.
What separates heroes from those who run from problems is the direction they face. Many people spend their whole life avoiding challenges. It’s easy to escape into hopelessness by telling yourself there’s nothing you can do about the problems you and your world are facing. Some people use drugs, or alcohol, to avoid dealing with the struggles of life.
It’s never too late to change your direction from avoiding problems to tackling them head-on. The most admired heroes are those who reluctantly tackled a challenge. If you’ve ever asked yourself “why me?” You may be a hero in waiting. The question heroes eventually asked themselves is often “why not me?” There’s something inside of them that drives them to face this challenge even though they wish they could avoid it.
The life of a hero is never easy.
The pathway to being a hero will be filled with obstacles. Reaching their goals will require overcoming many impediments. There will be times when the hero in training seriously considers giving up. Often the way forward will seem bleak, dark and impossible. The hero may find their path a lonely journey.
Many other people may have come this way, stood face to face with a great struggle. Less heroic people reach this point, and they give up, they turn back. Heroes come in all sizes, and shapes, and roles in life. Heroes don’t avoid the challenges; they just don’t give up no matter how dark today appears.
Heroes go on even when life seems hopeless.
Member that old saying “it’s always darkest before the dawn?” That’s an apt description of heroism. People endure struggles trying to make the world a better place even though they may not be able to see the fruits of that struggle. It’s tempting to give up doing the right thing when it’s hard.
It’s easy to find excuses for avoiding the hard things in life. You could tell yourself you don’t have the abilities, the position, where the money needed to accomplish great things. What you should be asking yourself is how can you use what you do have to make things better. Regardless of how many failures you’ve had in your life, you shouldn’t tell yourself that nothing better is possible. Every day new stories are being written about people who overcame life’s difficulties, who turned themselves around and got their life headed in the right direction. Heroes don’t let their past or their disabilities determine their future.
The journey of life changes heroes.
Many people start out life with everything going for them. They may come from wealth or privilege. Some have great talents. What separates these privileged people from the heroes of life, is that many don’t struggle. Many people who could accomplish great things in life take the easy path, turned back when the going got rough. The process, the journey of life, changes the people who do the hard work of facing life.
Can you identify the heroes in your life?
Are there people you admire? People who have struggled on, regardless of the challenge? People you’d like to be like, not because of their wealth, or status, or power, but because they never gave up and persevered in facing the trials of life. Will there be people in your life, your children, your friends, or society in general, who will recognize your heroism? It’s never too late to shift from avoiding the problems in life. Maybe today’s the day you will move from telling yourself all the things you can’t do and begin to take on the task of doing the things you should do.
Are you ready to start your hero’s journey of life?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.