Want to be mentally tough?

Thought this article was good enough to share… 

Want To Be Mentally Tough? Three Things You Should Know

By
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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.

PTSD – The silent killer

PTSD is the animal that I deal with. I read this blog article today and thought it was worth sharing:

PTSD – The silent killer

By Randy Kolibaba

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My name is Randy Kolibaba and I was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

For me, life was a constant struggle, having lived with an abusive alcoholic father who died when I was five years old. After my father’s death, my mother and I moved to Calgary. We lived in the lower east side in one of the roughest and poorest neighbourhoods in the city.

I was fortunate to go on to become a high-ranking and highly decorated officer with the RCMP. During my 34-year career, I attained the rank of Superintendent, and I was twice decorated for outstanding service to Canada.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but in the fall of 1999 I was embarking on a journey that would forever change my life. Due to my background as a criminal investigator, I was seconded to help the United Nations restore law and order in war torn Kosovo, Yugoslavia. My initial job was to set up the major crimes program for the Kosovo police service, teaching them how to investigate serious crimes. Shortly after my arrival, I was appointed the new Canadian contingent commander, which made me solely responsible for all of Canada’s policing interests in the Kosovo mission.

We were exposed first-hand to the graphic horrors of genocide, constant gunfire and incredible violence. I was living on an emotional razor’s edge and was incapable of calming myself. Besides ensuring my own personal safety, I was now directly responsible for 100 other Canadian police officers who were part of the contingent in Kosovo.

During the initial stages of our mission, morale amongst the contingent members was severely taxed. In fact, the overall success of Canada’s participation in the mission in Kosovo was in serious jeopardy.

After leaving the mission in June of 2000, I was put in charge of the RCMP detachment in Vernon, British Columbia. I can honestly say that I pushed back or repressed any memories I had of my experiences while in Kosovo. That is, until about a year later when I took my daughter to a medical appointment.

When I looked into her eyes and saw a very scared young girl, I instantly had an image of a young boy who had stepped on a land mine and had his legs blown off.

It all came flooding back.

I could immediately smell the burnt flesh as well as the smell of the burnt gunpowder.

For about three years, I wasn’t sure what was happening to me. I honestly thought I was going crazy. Without warning, I would be overwhelmed with a debilitating feeling of helplessness and anxiety; I would wake up virtually every night crying and in a cold sweat having experienced horrible recurring nightmares.

I just couldn’t get the look of the little boy’s eyes out of my mind or the smell of the burnt flesh and gunpowder.

I turned to alcohol thinking that I could drown out the nightmares, but it only made things worse. Looking back, I feel so bad for my family, as they had to experience my extreme mood swings and tirades without ever knowing what was going on.

Making matters worse, I was a high-profile community figure holding a position of authority. Sadly, I never told anyone what I was suffering from.

Finally, after the loss of a member’s life under my command due to a police boating accident, I didn’t know how much more stress I could handle. I was at my mental and physical wit’s end. I finally reached out for professional help, and it was no surprise to me that I was diagnosed with acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I remember telling my therapist that I didn’t want to take any medication. I had witnessed firsthand members of the RCMP becoming addicted to anti-depressants while battling PTSD and I vowed that it would never happen to me.

I just knew that I didn’t want to become the person I was becoming. I knew that the person I was becoming was not me. I needed help. At the time, I felt that the senior management of the RCMP looked upon those suffering with PTSD as being weak, which is why I never told anyone about my diagnosis. Although I never thought about taking my own life, I know why some victims suffering from PTSD want to end their lives. Those suffering from PTSD have an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair.

Although it took about two years, with the help of some professional guidance I developed good, sound coping skills. These skills, coupled with my understanding of the power of thought and belief, helped me to function at a high level once again. I no longer had the constant emotional toll of being alone with the symptoms of PTSD.

As a society, it’s paramount that we understand that PTSD doesn’t just affect members of our armed services. It can affect people in virtually every walk of life. PTSD does not only impact the victim, it’s devastating to the victim’s loved ones as well.

Sadly, from my own experience, I know that there are several hundred, if not thousands, of emergency responders suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, and they don’t even realize it.

PTSD is not a personal weakness or a flaw in one’s personality. It truly is a killer, and unless we ensure that there’s proper awareness of the disorder and increased access to professional help, we will continually see victims taking their own lives because they fear having nowhere to turn.

People with PTSD should never have to suffer in silence.

Randy Kolibaba currently tells his story of recovery from PTSD through motivational speaking engagements. He’s released a new self-help memoir titled “The Lies Behind the Truth” and is dedicating a large portion of book sales to combating homelessness and child poverty. For more information, visit liesbehindthetruth.com.

The original post can be found here.