Hero Within

“The hero  is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen” – Dr. Andrew Bernstein

How often do we get to hear stories about acts of heroism? I will guess that for each 100 stories of crimes, corruptions, wars etc we may hear 1 story of heroism.

To me Heroism is a fascinating topic. Growing up in Israel as a teenager during the YOM KIPUR war (1973) I was exposed to the horror of a shocked nation fighting for its very existence. Israel lost 2700 soldiers (equivalent to loss of 10000 soldiers in Australia today) in 3 weeks!. Then came the stories about acts of heroism. I remember those feelings of awe, elevation and a choked throat. In the years to come I heard stories about the Righteous amongst the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.  Again a sense of humility and profound expansion of the heart.

On Australia Day this weekend we will get the opportunity to learn about our local heroes – Australian of the Year and Honours list of Order of Australia. We choose these heroes because they reflect the core values of our culture.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in USA gives awards to those who risked their lives to save others. 20% of them died in their attempt to save others. Here is a quote from their website:  “These heroes have captured our attention as we express wonder at their courage. All of these heroes exhibit the rare quality of ultimate selflessness that reassures us the human race is noble. There is much to learn from them. Honor them.”

Stories about courage have always elevated my spirit and taught me. I hope some of the items I share here will touch you.

A hero is the one who tackles the challenges of life with courage. While fears can make us avoid and shrink, courage will get us to be active, involved, and accomplished. The difference between our fears and our courage is nothing less than our freedom.
The freedom to be our true and authentic selves might be compromised by fears of judgment.
The freedom to pursue our goals might be blocked by fears of failure.
The freedom to connect to others with an open heart might be limited by fears of rejection.
For the hero within these fears are the dragons he needs to slay on his journey towards self fulfilment. That means, to give life the abundance we own – our unique talents and strengths. When life doesn’t get from us what we are here to give – whether because we do too little or too much – we may feel the impact in the deepest parts of our soul, where it meets our body.
To succeed in his journey the hero will follow a certain code of conduct. I believe it will consist of the following:

Seeing instead of denying

Self awareness is essential key to get us out of our self-made prison. The hero needs to first recognise the dragons, meaning fears, before he can slay them. Those fears often live in the dark basement of our consciousness. The hero needs a good torch to go down there. Our best torch is often other people who can see what we are blind to. If you are lucky they will dare to share their feedback with care and kindness. If you are less lucky they might do so with criticism and anger. To welcome their feedback with curiosity and open mind instead of defensiveness is a hallmark of the hero.
To reflect: 
how do you learn about your dragons? Who are the people that give you feedback? How do you respond to feedback?

Know and stay attuned to your core values

Just as it is important to know what stops you, it is essential to know the forces that will make you unstoppable. These are your deeply held values and goals. The kind of values that make people risk their life to save others, risk their popularity to stay loyal to their beliefs or risk their job to maintain a sense of dignity. The hero within will reflect many times on the question of “what is really important to me?”. A day without reflecting on this question is most likely a day you spent stressed out from or indulging in the unimportant things of your life. The hero within remains cantered. Rather than drift off towards instant gratification in the face of temptations, he remains loyal to his core values.To reflect:
What value is really important for you? When did you take a risk or sacrifice something to stay loyal to this value?
To reflect: 
What value is really important for you? When did you take a risk or sacrifice something to stay loyal to this value?

Approach instead of avoid

the reason we avoid is simple: the brain sends warning signals based on past painful experiences and we buy into them. The hero is not discouraged by past failures. The hero will keep moving, acting and learning in the service of life. This is why we feel elevated when we watch someone overcoming barriers and resistance.

To reflect:
When did you overcome a barrier that stopped you from acting towards your goals? What was the barrier and how did you do so?
How do fears stop you from confronting someone and what price do you pay?

To follow this code of conduct is to lead an authentic life. It means both to accomplish one’s goals and to be at peace with oneself.

I believe we all deserve that. We just need to use our swords and start slaying our dragons.

About the author:

Guy (Hagai) Avisar is a psychologist with more than 30 years of experience helping people with relationship issues


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