5 tips for building mental toughness
COMMITMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXCITEMENT
Think back to your childhood…every time you started something new you were excited. The possibilities were endless. When you were young, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Everything was easy, and it was all fun. That is, until you decided that you wanted to be good at it.
There are plenty of activities & hobbies that people participate in for leisure or to pass the time, but the minute you cross over from recreational participation, to actually wanting to win or to become great at something, things inevitably get harder. I have heard many people say things like “Had I known how difficult it was going to be, I might not have started.”
The point here isn’t to dwell on how hard something is, or is going to be. If you can acknowledge that at some point there will be moments that won’t feel like fun, and times that will require real commitment on your part. Anyone can give up when the excitement wears off. Winners stay committed for however long it takes.
STOP PLAYING THE NEGATIVE POSSIBILITIES IN YOUR HEAD
Have you ever had to make a difficult phone call that you’ve been dreading, and after you eventually mustered the courage to do it, the outcome was nothing like you had expected?
We all have. We are notoriously good at catastrophising possible outcomes. We waste energy and loose sleep imaging how things might go badly or wrong, over optimistic, positive outcomes.
So don’t invest any energy or time in things that are completely out of your control. In fact, it’s way more productive to face your challenges head on so that you can invest your energy in responding to them, or in finding solutions.
The key is disrupting the pattern.
You can disrupt your negative thinking by shifting your mind to something else. It might be thinking about a song or photo that inspires you. When you catch yourself playing, and replaying different scenes in your head, look to that source of inspiration for distraction and optimism.
GET UP & TAKE ACTION
Never underestimate the power of taking action. When you’re stressed out and paralysed by fear it can be suffocating. Your negative thoughts will manifest themselves in you physically, which might include things like headaches, stiff neck or your heart rate increasing.
The best way to combat stress is to take action. Don’t sit on the sofa stewing in your negative mess. That’s the worst things you can do.
Find and use your source of inspiration. Focus on it until changes your physical state, and most importantly get up. Physically stand up. When you stand up, it puts you in a physical stance of authority.
Start small. Tackle it. Acknowledge it. Find another task to complete. Complete it. Praise yourself for it. Take pride in work. Don’t half arse it. Whatever you do, make sure that you do it to the best of your ability.
It could be argued that ‘How you do some things, is how you do everything’.
By starting with the smaller tasks and completing them, you are developing this skill and commitment to excellence. I once heard someone say that to have the perfect day, you should start by making the bed. It’s the same principle.
MOST FAILURE IS NEVER FINAL
In life there are few mistakes that are truly final. The reason that most people avoid taking risks is out of fear for what other people will think of them. But the reality is most people don’t care about your screw ups because they are too busy condemning themselves for their own. So if everyone is stuck in their own head chastising themselves, why spend any energy worrying about what other people think about you? Accepting this can be unbelievably liberating. When you give yourself permission to make mistakes in pursuit of your dreams, amazing things happen.
Failure is actually good for you. Failures are far more interesting, because you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes. It turns out that learning how to bounce back from failure is an invaluable skill to possess if you want to succeed. Your failures will not define you and the more often you try and fail, try and fail, try and fail, the more resilient you will become.
It is the people who spend their lives trying to avoid failure that never truly realise their full potential, because they treated their first failed attempt at something as the end all be all. Don’t let that be you.
LISTEN TO DAILY POSITIVE REAFFIRMATIONS
We are all, in fact, conditioned to think negative thoughts, because for hundreds of thousands of years, we were hunter/gatherers who had to be on our toes at all times to prevent being eaten by larger animals. Like those cave men, your brains is hard wired to look for threats, and keep you safe from danger.
Your brain doesn’t want your body to die, and in order to survive and stay alive you are programmed to question everything. So you need to be taught to be a positive thinker.
The most successful people you know, listen or read various positive or inspiring messages. Consume positive messages on a daily basis to build your confidence and resilience.