Training to be physically strong is important for our longevity and quality of life. As Mark Rippetoe famously said, "Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general."
While we believe this to be profoundly true, we also believe that being mentally strong is a huge component of physical strength and that you cannot develop genuine strength unless you also develop your mental resilience.
And it doesn’t happen by accident. We need to be conscientious in training our grit every day just as we train our muscles.
Here are my five top ways to develop mental strength:
Respond vs react
This can be as simple as taking a step back, breathing deep and getting your emotions right before opening your mouth. Notice I said simple and not easy. Developing this skill is one of the hardest but most useful things you can do to up your mental (and emotional) game.
So often, we get caught in an emotional loop that controls how we react when we are confronted by difficulty. When that is the case, more often than not, we make the issue worse.
If we take a moment to truly see what we are confronting, we will take the control back from our programmed emotional response and take charge of how we deal with our challenges.
Focus on the process, not the result
Staring a huge task in the eye can be daunting whether it's a work project, a 300 lb. deadlift or dropping 20 lbs. If you break that huge task into manageable benchmarks you can plan how you are going to achieve them.
Even more important is looking at the journey as an opportunity for growth and achievement that you wouldn't otherwise have. This will keep you motivated and allow for constant and consistent examination and adjustment of the plan.
Being tied to just one way of achieving your goal can be self-defeating. Seeing every month, week, day or moment as one step on the journey will allow you to understand that sometimes you need to go around the mountain rather than climb over it.
Find a way
Don't get stuck. There's always a way. I know, that's easy to say and nearly impossible to believe when faced with adversity but people overcome circumstances way more daunting than yours every day. They do it by not giving in...by believing that there is always an alternative.
Change your chatter
This goes along with all of the above. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Most of us are really harsh with the person we should be caring for more than anyone else.
When you hear a negative thought in your head, stop and change it to the positive. Again this is easier said than done but, like anything else, with consistent and deliberate practice we can turn our self-talk into one of our biggest assets.
Have a support team
Seek out those who support you. Don't let the energy vampires or the Debbie Downers discourage you. Find your tribe and be a cheerleader for those around you.