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Fear, Pain, Trauma... and Personal Courage

Aug 17, 2007
A few years ago, the experts in my field of psychology and psychiatry finally realized what everyone already knows--and published it in our main diagnostic manuals.

They looked at the experiences of trauma and pain and recognized that everyone is different, and that you can't define trauma and pain in general terms that apply to everyone.

Everyone feels pain differently and uniquely. What one person calls pain, another might call pleasure. What one person calls pain, another might just feel as a good stress on the muscles or something that makes them feel alive.

As a simple example, my fishing buddy's wife just plain dislikes discomfort. He and I will go out very very early in the morning on the coldest and most "dreary" days and just dig it like nobody's business!

It just makes us feel alive to be in the elements like that. His wife thinks we are crazy, and we think we are the sanest we ever are when we are out in that stuff.

We like it and feel great.

In my practice over the years I've met many astounding individuals who could give us all lessons in the uniqueness of pain. This is where personal courage comes in.

Charles had been badly injured at work. He worked as a mechanic, and a lift had failed and crushed his leg, gave him a brain injury, and left his arm partially paralyzed. He could no longer work and had been denied workers's commpensation through a poor choice of attorneys and an unfavorable court.

He had very little money and no prospects. He had loved working but now couldn't be a mechanic... yet he still has a great attitude about life. He doesn't consider himself a victim. He faces each day with hope and interest, despite continuous pain and an inability to do the work he loved so much.

He seems like an easy candidate for personal hero of the year, and is inspiring to others.

On the other hand, Sari is living what anyone might consider a charmed life. She is married and has two beautiful children, and lots of money. Her health is generally good, but day and night she worries about her weight.

She feels fat and believes she is fat. By most people's standards, she isn't, but to her, she is. And she suffers continuously with this thought.

It debilitates her and puts up a roadblock for her on almost everything she tries to do.

Would you consider her a coward, or pampered or spoiled? If so, you are very prejudiced! Because the Sari I know goes on about everything she does with dignity and grace.

She's always there for her children. She is a faithful and loving wife. She serves others in the community and has raised a lot of money for people who are more fortunate than she is.

Now has your attitude toward her shifted a little? Now take into account that her own image of herself is extremely negative. She really believes she is fat and ugly, and suffers with that thought every single moment of every single day.

Who among us is saintly enough to define courage? Courage is a very individual thing, just as pain and trauma are.

What to one person might feel easy and simple to another person might seem incredibly difficult and strenuous and even impossible. To me skydiving seems like an absolute impossibility...but to some it seems like the most wonderful thing ever invented.

What seems incredibly frightening and devastating to one person, another will find challenging and even fun.

When my neighbor's house burned to the ground two years ago, I was surprised to find him pretty happy about it. He said, "I get to start over!"

He was thrilled. I probably would have been shattered.

I can, however, make one general statement about courage, of which I am absolutely certain...and know no one can dispute.

That is, whatever and whoever you are, there's some very important part of you waiting to be explored and discovered...something which will make you a far better person and will give you incredible joy and growth, if you will take it on---

And whatever that thing is waiting to be discovered is something which every time you think about it, gives you the shivers and scares the daylight out of you.

That's how you can tell if it is important... it scares the daylight out of you to think about doing it! Yet you feel a draw to it, and feel that if only you could do it, you would be a better and happier person.

Courage is facing this part of who you are, and which is crying out in you to be developed. I don't know what that is for you...that's the unique part of the equation!

But I do know that whatever it is, you'd better think about doing it, and starting right this very day.

Or you will regret it later. Courage is just facing the call to be who we really and truly are, but have held ourselves back from being. Face those fears, go ahead and take on the new and feared thing. Find your own way.

Not tomorrow. Today.
About the Author
Dr. Max Vogt, the notorious "Renegade Marriage Counselor," is giving away a Free Confidential Great Relationship Evaluation at http://www.MarriageBlueprint.com
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