5 Ways to Build Lasting Mental ToughnessNone By Homaira Kabir
Life is strange. It seems to have a mind of its own. Things happen over which we have little control, and just when we think we have everything planned out, it throws us a curve ball. We scramble around, spending much of our time trying to channel that ball into a direction that suits us.
But the reality is that despite our best efforts, there's not a lot we can do to change the things that are beyond our control. When our efforts don’t pay off, we get discouraged and blame the universe for our woes. Not that this helps! Life is unbiased, after all, and couldn’t care less how we manage the curve balls it throws at us.
But we do. We have dreams for the future and goals that align with it. We need to let go of the tame-and-blame strategy we are pursuing and invest our energy in controlling our reactions instead. We need to find a way of adapting our course despite the uncertainties of life.
This is called mental toughness. The ability to take a deep breath, immerse ourselves in the experience whether we like it or not, and start doing what really needs to be done. The good news is that it is these very moments of adversity that lead to growth and upward spirals of increasing resilience.
So when the going gets tough…
Give Yourself a Hug
Most of us begin an avalanche of self-criticism the moment things don't go according to plan. Phrases like “You should’ve done this”. “You can’t even do that”, “If only you had…” speed through our minds and we end up feeling totally useless and dejected. Research shows that if we were instead to come from a place of self-compassion, where we recognize the difficulty we're facing and give ourselves the reassurance that we're there for ourselves, we will find the strength to forge ahead and do the right thing.
Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
Knowing what we want is the single biggest predictor of success. And yet, many of us are not very clear about it. Psychologist Heidi Halvorson, who studies the science of motivation, says that it is by writing down what we want, visualizing it in our minds, and planning the steps we need to take to craft our journey and overcome the obstacles along the way, that we stay realistic, persistent and resilient towards long term goals. Otherwise, we fantasize immediate results and give up the moment we come across hurdles and short-term distractions that are a natural part of every endeavor.
Celebrate Past Successes
The human brain evolved to look for threats to its survival. As such, negativity and failures loom large in our minds and get imprinted into our so we can avoid sim