Have you ever faced a situation or challenge that you didn’t think you could overcome, but did?
The thought of giving up was so close yet you somehow pushed through?
Often times, we are closer to our goals than we realize and that last bit of mental toughness is what takes us to the top. Everything in life that is worthwhile is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work. Anyone who tells you different is lying.
So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
7.Laugh It Off
When it gets really bad, you have to choose to laugh.
Think about how ridiculous your situation is and how crazy of a bar story it will make.
One night, a patrol in Ranger School was particularly harrowing. Nothing had gone according to plan, it was freezing cold and we had moved probably about 9 miles up multiple mountains.
I felt like collapsing.
While we took a knee for the acting Platoon Leader to do a map check, it started raining. As we reached a new level of misery, my Ranger buddies and I exchanged glances and started laughing.
The laugh spread and grew until the entire patrol was cackling like manic hyenas. The laugh released some of the immense tension and pent up frustration that had been boiling inside of me.
Everybody reaches that point sooner or later on their journey. Maybe it’s just one of those days when your car breaks down, your cell phone dies, and you stub your toe. Don’t lash out or throw a temper tantrum, laugh about it.
Make a joke. Laugh off the pain. Sometimes it’s either that or cry. And you’re not going to cry.
8.Remember the Big Picture
Remember why you are doing it.
Remember the Tab, the Career, the big Break, whatever your dream is.
Keep the end in mind to maintain perspective. If you lose sight of the big picture you will forget why you’re putting yourself through such discomfort. Think about future you, and what he or she will think looking back. Remember that the pain won’t last forever.
Once during Ranger School we were doing the Y-squat for an incredible amount of time. My legs were burning and I wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest my arms. I couldn’t stop concentrating on the pain, until one of the instructors said some of the most comforting words I’ve heard, “Rangers, it is going to stop. Just hang on for a little longer. It will end, I promise.”
He was right, eventually the smoke session did end. He had reminded me of the big picture. All the pain they were inflicting on us was temporary and manageable. I knew I could get over the hill, just like so many Rangers before me. Future me was going to look back and think about how it really wasn’t that bad after all, it just seemed like it at the time.
Remember where you are and where you are going. Keep an elevated perspective to strengthen your mental toughness and keep from getting overwhelmed by present stresses or hardship.
9.Embrace the Suck
Like the pain. Learn to enjoy pushing yourself.
Mental toughness is a muscle, and like all your muscles it gets stronger if you use it, and weaker when you don’t. Every time you do something hard you are giving your “toughness muscle” a pump. That’s the reason so many people like to seek out uncomfortable things like adventure runs (Tough Mudders, Spartan Races, GoRucks, etc.).
When you are pushing yourself, it’s going to suck. If a workout doesn’t make you tired and sore, you aren’t working out hard enough. So you should be happy and satisfied when that workout is hard, right?
It’s the same with the difficulties you face at work, or on your projects, or in sports. You enjoy the difficult times because you know it is good for you in the long run. Older generations used to refer to this phenomenon as “building character.”
Somebody once said, “hard times create tough men.” So don’t avoid hard times, embrace them.
- Comment below with a time you had to use one of these principles to overcome a seemingly impossible situation