How To Be Mentally Tough

"He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still." - Lao Tzu

John Kehoe, author of Mind Power, believes we exist in two worlds at the same time. The first world is the realm of our thoughts and emotions. The second one is the world of our external circumstances.

Getting through life's challenges - and being happy - boils down to how well you master these two worlds.

Think about it: are your peace of mind and happiness easily rattled by what happens around you?

Can you 'hold down the fort' and keep your inner world from falling apart?

This is the kind of mental toughness will allow you to transcend your negative circumstances and succeed in life.

But too often, we allow our outer world to lay waste to our inner world, like the proverbial bull in the China shop.

So, if you want to have a good life, you need to cultivate the habit of managing your inner world even as the chaos of life swirls around you.

But how do you do it?

How do you keep it together when life events seem to toss and turn your mind like a ship caught in a violent storm?

Here are 3 quick ways to develop the habit of mental toughness...

Tip#1: Mind your 'guest house'

The famous poet Rumi compared a person's inner world to a guest house. He imagined our minds to be a home where different thoughts and emotions live as if they were guests staying over temporarily.

Whether it's joy, anger, sadness, disappointment, rage, contentment, or anything else in between, we have a complicated set of emotions that come and go.

A good way to manage these "guests" is through the ancient art of meditation. Many cultures have practiced this for thousands of years, such as in Zen Buddhism.

In Zen, one's peace of mind doesn't depend on external conditions. So, meditating can help you cultivate the stable kind of happiness that doesn't crumble during tough times.

Even just a few minutes of meditation every day can add up to a solid foundation for a sound guest house.

Look into meditation apps you can install on your phone or mobile device. Also, you can look up videos and books online to enrich your knowledge about the topic.

This is a small but powerful investment that's going to change you in a significant way.

Tip#2: Challenge Your Thoughts

As a species, humans have highly evolved brains that allow us to do high-level thinking.

But as logical and intelligent as we are, the human mind still has a tendency to be irrational...

...especially when we're under a great deal of stress and pressure.

It's common for someone to project worst-case scenarios in their head when things go wrong.

So, you need to know how to deal with the irrational side of your brain so that you don't make decisions that will negatively impact your outer world.

One effective way to do that is by challenging those 'what-if' type of thoughts as they come up.

So when you're facing a challenge and you're thinking about the worst that could happen, try to counter it with cold, hard logic.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What are the actual odds of _____________ happening?
  • Are things really out of control, or is there some part of the problem I can do something about?
  • What other angle am I missing?
  • Do I have all the information to make a proper appraisal of the situation?

This is a great way to handle your unruly 'guests,' stop them in their tracks and send them on their way.

Tip#3: Be Kind To Yourself

There's a military phrase that goes, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

This is the kind of attitude that people have about themselves, and it's a really counter-productive approach to handling challenges.

Even if you're managing your guest house well, you still need to give yourself permission to freak out just a little bit.

It's never good to crack the whip on yourself for experiencing negative emotions while you're under pressure.

Feeling bad about yourself because you feel bad only complicates the situation and creates an unhealthy feedback loop.

So you need to be kind to yourself and not hold on to these feelings.

Sometimes, you have to mentally step aside and let them pass through you as quickly as possible without having to punish yourself for it.

Mental toughness isn't about resisting your inner chaos. It's the graceful art of taking that energy and dancing around it instead of meeting it head-on.

And if you happen to take a wrong step and fall flat on your face, don't be afraid to sit it out and lick your wounds for a while.

But don't take too long because you don't want to fall into the trap of drowning in self-pity.

Just accept that this is the cycle of life.

The world may change around you, and it might knock you down for a bit...

...but the tougher you are mentally, the quicker you can get back on your feet.

 

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