Working on emotional stamina
Building muscles takes sweat, stamina and time in the gym. If you keep at it you eventually enhance your endurance to handle physical demands. Can we build ‘Mental Stamina’ in the same way? We are constantly handling high levels of stress and need emotional endurance to get us through tough times. Relying on ‘will power’ is the same as saying we will push hard on the treadmill when we have no fitness, we burn out and then give up. This highlights that it is important to have the mental fitness to face unexpected challenges. Confronting life tests is when you will discover your mental muscles. It is in these times we become shaken and realise we are weaker than we thought. Is there a way that we can build emotional strength and use it when we are under pressure?
STEP 1 Get rid of unhelpful mental junk food.
Are you feeding yourself mental junk? Unhelpful beliefs about who you are, finding reasons why you don’t have the potential to succeed and blaming others for your problems is counterproductive. This self-talk damages you emotionally. Stop saying ‘I always stuff up’, ‘My ideas suck’, 'Nobody helps me’. This talk can be self-fulfilling if you keep repeating the words. Another common belief is ‘what we do is who we are’. This perspective generates a ceaseless internal need to achieve to feel worthy and it has been named ‘the hustle for worthiness’ by social researcher Brene Brown. This thinking according to Brown creates a society governed by fear and shame. It is important to be believe that you are worthy and can make mistakes but you will never be a mistake. Making mistakes does not threaten who you are.
Stop thinking about others in a negative light. Sometimes life can feel like a giant competition. It seems that there is a scarce number of money, jobs and promotions. Resenting other people’s success is not helpful. Allow yourself to get off social media for a few moments daily. So much stress results from comparing ourselves. Look inward, and ask am I doing the best I can with what I have been given? Am I being the best version of myself within my capabilities? A wise man says, that he is not worried that at the end of his life he would not measure up to great individuals; his only concern is that he will not measure up to the greatest version of himself. It is important to not allow others to control your reactions. Sometimes there are people that hurt you, remind yourself that you have the choice how you are going to react. Don’t allow people that upset you to live in your head rent free.
Remember, success often happens slowly. Instant gratification is something that we have adapted into our lives. If we believe that our goals are to be achieved quickly it complicates our ability to keep working on something long term. If this is our attitude we will be left feeling frustrated and disappointed. Remember life is a marathon it is not a race.
Step 2 – Finding your core muscles (values and beliefs)
Writing down and identifying your strengths, values, and beliefs are gives you a reason to act in a certain way. It gives you a focus and clarity. Start with the basic question. Do I have the ability to succeed? What is worth dedicating my time to? What type of person do I want to be? Set very small daily tasks to start with that don’t take much time and are easy. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and belief in yourself. Maybe start with a character trait such as being calm when you see something that angers you for example ‘the milk is left out’. This is like starting with small weights before you start the heavy lifting. When you are confronted with an infuriating situation you will have built the control you need to deal with it.
Step 3 – Where are you putting your energy
If everything is focused on what is negative in your life it’s harder to put the energy into positive productive things. We sometimes form habits that put us in a state of worry and we focus on people that undermine our goals. Conserve your energy ! Productive positive thoughts strengthen our mental fortitude.
Effort counts, irrespective of what results may or may not be achieved. Often the world is focused on achievement and not effort, the reality is that we can only control the effort we invest and not the outcome. If a swimmer does her personal best time and loses the race, should she see herself as a winner or a loser? The results are often out of our hands. Ask yourself: what is your reasonable effort for today and then invest your energy into your efforts and not into worrying over the outcome. If you focus on what is out of your control you will forget to play your part. Each day focus on what is within your control and do not get overwhelmed with you can’t.
Step 4- Find the purpose of every situation
Finding the purpose in a pretty horrible situation builds mental strength. Confront and comfort yourself that this is a pretty horrible situation but don’t give into failure. My life is ruined, I will never amount to anything. A better way to approach it is. What can I learn, how can I grow, what is the potential here to discover something about myself that I never knew before? A new perspective allows us to keep walking despite the weight. How can you strengthen your values and beliefs despite the disappointments. Maintaining self worth is the key to being successful.