Battle Scarred vs. Battle Scared

battle You’re probably familiar with the term “battle scarred,” which refers to the scars from wounds received in combat. Most of us are fortunate to not have to engage in real warfare where the scars are visible (i.e. physical) and invisible (i.e. mental). Our battles are more esoteric so our “scars” tend to be only the second kind – mental.

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Today we want to talk about a different word – battle scared. It’s amazing what a difference that one “r” can make.

By our definition, “battle scared” means that the damage done in combat is so severe that the injured party doesn’t push on.

It’s possible to be battle scarred without becoming battle scared.

People who are battle scarred start with an open wound that leaves only a scar over time. For people who are battle scared, it’s as if the wound never closes.

Mentally, the battle is still fresh in their mind. So they’re unable to fight again today. Two people can engage in the same battle and experience the same thing. One pushes on to fight another day (the battle scarred) while the other can’t live with the memories of the battle (the battle scared).

An example: the recent financial crisis

We have an example of a battle recently – the financial troubles rolling through the economies of the developed world. We all may feel a little battle scared at this point because it is still so fresh in all of our minds. It’s important to pause and reflect so we’re only left with the scars of the battle.

Learn the proper lessons
“Stocks are too risky.”
“Playing the stock market is no different than gambling at a casino.”
“It’s the government’s fault.”
“It’s the banks’ fault.”

These are the wrong lessons to takeaway from this battle. They are the reactions of the battle scared.

“I took on too much debt.”
“I spent more than I took in.”
“I didn’t create a safety net for myself.”
“I focused too much on what I wanted now and not enough on my future.”
“I should have seen that stocks were risky.”

These are the right lessons to learn from this calamity. The battle scarred will come away with these things in mind.

Make the proper adjustments.
“I’m going to close out my 401(k).”
“I’m never going to invest in stocks again; they’re too risky.”
“I won’t take any risk ever again.”
“You can’t trust anyone.”

These knee jerk reactions are common among the battle scared.

“I’m going to have an emergency stash.”
“I’m going to get out of debt.”
“I’m going to learn to allocate my portfolio so I get decent returns for the risk I’m taking.”

The battle scarred will make adjustments, but they won’t go from one extreme to another.

Giving up gets you nowhere

We have to keep fighting. We have to learn the right things from every battle so we can make the correct adjustments. We should gain wisdom from the battles we fight. That wisdom will help us win the war faster with more certainty.

If we become battle scared, we fail. We fail to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves in the coming days. We fail to reach our full potential. We must resolve to learn from our battles and make the adjustments necessary to win the next one.

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(Image by Marion Doss, CC 2.0)

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