Like the title says, this post is about mental toughness and jelly hearts should avoid reading it. I want to pour everything that I know and have learnt about mental toughness in this post. I won’t hold back.
This means I’m gonna be my realest self. The weird thing about swearing is that it allows you to fully express- some people are gonna love it and some people are gonna be petty. I do not care about the latter. So if you are a person living in the shadows and always looking for a controversy- stop right there.
In one of my previous posts I talked about how Mental toughness and Mind muscle connection are linked. Mental toughness itself holds huge importance (If you have not realized why, may god help you), so it deserves its independent post.
All the tips I share I have used myself- and they have miraculously worked- some of them I have discovered myself and some of them I have learnt from books, interviews of the toughest people walking on the earth and some from the greatest entrepreneurs who have put a dent in the universe. I promise if you have the discipline to read this entire post and control the temptation to criticize it, you’ll be a changed person.
How are mental toughness and fitness related?
For majority of the people who are into fitness, they do it only to avoid diseases, or say they’ve reached to a point in life where if they don’t get their ass moving, they will soon see heaven’s gate. In other words, people are too result oriented.
Ask a person working out at the gym who’s moving heavy-ass weights or someone who’s getting their ass beat over a treadmill, “Why are you into fitness?”
You’ll mostly get answers like these:
“Girls like ripped men”
“Muscular men have a lot of respect”
“I wanna become a model”
I’m not saying these are the wrong reasons to workout (Regardless of what your motivations to workout be- getting into a fitness regime is important)- I’m saying these reasons are superficial as fuck. They won’t keep you driven towards your goal for long. Notice I said “driven” and not “motivated”. Those reasons can surely get you motivated- but I believe motivation is garbage. Because motivation comes and goes.
If you are driven, however- you destroy everything in front of you. Period.
So what do I mean by saying all that? Fitness is about consistency. And to develop consistency and persistence in your actions, you need the right intentions and reasons to be so. Which, by the way- in my opinion is where mental toughness gets started.
Long story short- How tough you are mentally most certainly dictates how successful you will be in your next fitness regime. Since I realized this, I felt the need to develop some mechanisms to develop mental toughness and I intend to share those through this post.
Who on this Earth?
Since we’re humans, we undeniably have some moments of despair. In these moments of back breaking, drowning sadness and despair- ask yourself:
“Who on this fucking earth would still be going?”
“You gotta be the hardest motherfucker on the planet. Go.
Go. Kick. Some. Ass.”
Now should you even care if you’re the hardest? No. But if this self talk is gonna give you the spark, who the fuck cares?
Having set the mood, here are a few mechanisms that I deploy every-time when I face the situation.
1. Up the ante
In other words- increase what’s at stake. I’ll give an example. Some months ago I was watching an interview of a retired US Navy Seal Commander. He was asked, “What do you do, to keep going? What do you do when you can’t stand anymore and your legs feel like jelly?”
He’s like “Increase what’s at stake”
“I keep my family at stake. I love my kids and my wife so much, that I know I’d do anything if its for them. So the next time my mind falls soft and tries to fall into comfort zones, I program my brain to think that if I don’t squeeze out another rep, or say if I do not complete that run, It’s gonna harm my loved ones”
But bro, he’s a Navy Seal. One of the toughest clans on earth. I cannot advice you to keep your family at stake, but I invite you to grasp the idea of this concept. Keep something at stake and believe it like you believed fucking Santa Claus- he didn’t do shit for you. Believing this will surely get some shit done.
2. Bounce back quickly from the unexpected.
So you’re all charged, you’ve visualized your workout, and you grabbed the heaviest dumbbell on the rack. Tried a rep- failed. You always thought you could lift it, but could not. You can either shove your head into the mud and cry about such setbacks for the rest of your workout time- or you could quickly grab the lighter set of dumbbell and execute the set. This is crucial- you won’t always end up being the best- but you shouldn’t be trying any less than the one who does.
Having said this, I always reiterate the importance of resilience. You need to acknowledge. You need to adapt. You need to expect and act.
3. “Not dead, can’t quit”
This has been the most effective tip for me- reciting some mantras. Comfort zones are so easy to slide into- but they’re the worst place you could be. Accept this as rule- when something is easy- it’s rarely the right thing to do.
So is quitting on something. If you quit, you’ll peacefully slide into your comfort like Alice in fucking wonderland. But that sure as hell, is not the right thing to do.
At these moments, I recite mantras.
I say, “Not dead, Can’t quit!” or
“I’ll do this, or die trying!”
That’s about mental toughness. But it is equally important to know where mental weakness comes from. The major reason is thinking others owe you something.
You may get sympathy. But that’s the worst gift ever. In a dictionary, you will find sympathy between shit and syphilis. Yeah, that’s how gross it is.
No one owes you shit. You owe to to yourself.
Unwillingness to suffer.
I am of an opinion that one of the main pillars to achieve mental toughness is the willingness to suffer. I may not be the strongest, I may not be the fastest or the most good looking. But I am sure as hell good as suffering. Train yourself to out suffer everyone. That will make you work hard and free of self-pity.
And finally, like I mentioned earlier in the post working out or doing tasks with a dumb reason makes you mentally weak. So, you need to define the right reasons- what will make you happy?
What will make me happy?
Getting to the point where I’m not afraid to face the thing on the other side of the door that wants to annihilate and kill me- makes me happy. And for me, the best does not mean being number one.
Did I leave everything I had in me out there?