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Five Tips for Developing Mental Toughness

Source: Valerie Worthington for buddhasport

Another great article by Valerie Worthington. This applies to all of us who have the will to win but are not always “Mentally tough”

“Grappling is like life in many ways. Very frequently, the things we learn on the mat are applicable to the rest of our experiences, and vice versa. For example, a character trait useful in any situation, whether grappling-related or in other challenging areas of life, is mental toughness. Mental toughness refers to our resilience, our persistence in the face of adversity, and our ability to use logic and reason to talk ourselves through difficult situations. Below are five steps you can take to become more mentally tough:

1.Decide you are going to be tough.
 Mental toughness is mostly a choice. When we decide to quit in the face of adversity, the key word is “decide.” We have far more capacity for success than many of us are willing to acknowledge. And then there are the stories of people who were stranded in the middle of the desert, adrift at sea, or trapped in enclosed spaces, who survived because they decided they were going to. Your first step toward mental toughness is deciding you are going to have it.

2.Strengthen your self-talk muscle.
Once you have decided you are going to be mentally tough, you need to support your decision with a changed outlook. Think about the way many people talk to themselves: “I hope I can do this.” “I’m not sure I can do that.” Our intention is a powerful tool in our arsenal; we live up or down to our expectations of ourselves. If we allow doubt to manifest itself internally, we allow it to manifest itself externally. Engage in self talk more along the lines of “When I do this,” or “After I have done that,” and so on. Even if you don’t believe it right now, fake it till you make it.

3.Challenge yourself physically.
 If you grapple, you already know that physical challenges strengthen mental toughness. Anything that requires us to push our own physical limits, whether it is running a marathon, going for a personal record in deadlifting, or taking on the Goliath in an open division requires us to be mentally strong as well. If you take on a physical challenge, you will need to strategize, create a plan and carry it out, and talk yourself through the times when you want to quit because you feel pain or fatigue. And you will go through these times! As a grappler, look for ways you can continue to challenge yourself physically, whether through attending a wrestling class or trying rounds that are longer than the ones you usually do.

4.Identify role models.
Rocky. Aron Ralston (featured in the movie 127 Hours). Survivors of the Iran Hostage Crisis from 1979-1981. Military veterans. There are so many examples of inspirational people who embody mental toughness. Find one who resonates with you and learn more about that person, what s/he did to endure a traumatic situation, how s/he handled doubt and fear, and what s/he does to become more and more mentally tough. Many of these people would argue that they are just like us. It’s just that they were placed in situations that required them to access the extraordinary that is possible in anyone, including you.

5.Chart your progress.
 Give yourself credit for the mental toughness you have displayed in the past and identify areas where you might be able to improve your actions. What challenges have you managed in a way that demonstrated your mental toughness?”

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