Want to be mentally tough?

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Want To Be Mentally Tough? Three Things You Should Know

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Some call it grit. Others call it a fighting spirit. Others liken it to the ability to bounce back. Yet, whatever you call mental toughness, overcoming setbacks probably deserves a place in the definition.

So here are three things you should know about overcoming setbacks:

It’s not about putting life back together the way it was.When bad things happen, they make us ask a lot of questions. We may wonder: Why do bad things happen? Why would God allow this to happen? Why did this happen to me? As we search for answers, and attempt to reconstruct what is left of our lives, we cannot help but be changed. Inevitably, we will see life differently. Things that used to be important, may now fade into the horizon and things we didn’t think mattered so much — appreciating life, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing unrealized hopes and dreams, may now take on new meaning. As they should. Because sometimes life cannot be returned back to the way it was. Nor should it be. In the process of struggling we are changed, because change is what happens when you learn. And those who are mentally tough know this: that it’s in the struggle — the good fight — that you are made stronger.

Setbacks are not deficits. When we say “some things cannot be overcome” we are ascribing to a deficit model of life. That is, that setbacks are some sort of black mark that forever scars a person. Yet, the truth is, there is no data to support this. Studies of both PTSD and post-traumatic growth both come to the same conclusion: every person responds to trauma differently. There is no one response that characterizes traumatic experience. Further, there is no type of trauma that can categorically identified as “something that cannot be overcome”. For every type of trauma, you can find, you can also find someone who has not just overcome it, but grown in the process. Murder? Try Jennifer Hudson. Rejection? Try Steven Spielberg. Sexual abuse? Try Oprah Winfrey. Poverty? Try Jim Carrey. Paraplegia? Try Bethany Hamilton or Amy Purdy. You get the picture. Yet when we talk about things that cannot be overcome, not just are we statistically incorrect, we are also attitudinally off the mark. Because mental toughness is about facing adversity – not being held hostage by it.

You shouldn’t just bounce back. Sometimes we are not meant to quickly rebound. Sometimes we can’t. Yet when we are told that we should just bounce back, we are missing a crucial element of toughness: the ability to face the struggle head on. And sometimes the struggle takes time, because the answers we need are not there, the skills we have to learn have not yet been mastered, or for no other reason than that’s just the way some struggles are. We can’t always know why a boxing match isn’t won in the first three rounds, but that doesn’t mean that we should tell the fighters to “hurry it up”.Facing the struggle — no matter how long it takes — is, after all, the art of patience, confidence, perseverance and yes, mental toughness.

There is no magic to becoming mentally tough. And there is no one right way. But what we do know about mental toughness is that it’s not earned without a little loss of blood, sweat and tears. And that’s perfectly okay.

For more information about becoming mentally tough, visit www.leverageadversity.net.