Have you ever wondered why some people push through obstacles effortlessly? Okay, maybe it’s not all that easy, but to the average person looking in, it may appear so. You can’t help but wonder if some people are born with the ability to glide through trouble spots or gifted with some specialized knowledge on the art of overcoming obstacles. I don’t think we can prove that to be true, but it would be easier if we could somehow show that genetics make us more resilient. I think it makes more sense for us to understand that resiliency is developed much like a muscle in the body. The more experiences we incur, the thought is that we become more resilient. I think it’s also evident that people we deem as mentally tough have most likely learned how to sneak around sabotaging behaviors.
Some of us are strong-willed, and some of us possess an unbelievable amount of tenacity. While it may make sense for us to see someone with those characteristics having increased mental toughness, it doesn’t always guarantee that to be true. There are instances where people go through a crisis, and they pursue along time only to give up, and they don’t rise above it. However, when we do survive a not so perfect experience, our mental muscle strengthens because we learn and enhance our skills. That adversity equips us for more challenges. We can take those skills that we develop and use them, again and again, to help us get through more experiences.
Dawn Grunnagle 3x Olympic Trials Qualifier in the marathon was on my podcast Starter Girlz not too long ago. When asked what she is thinking moments before participating in a big race like the Olympic Trials, she mentioned that she “falls back” on her tool belt. In this case, she was referring to her training. It is intense and requires a lot of commitment from her. She has to overcome many challenges to be able to perform. Still, in doing that, she has become a stronger runner. That has allowed her to participate in many challenging races over and over again. So if fear or negative thoughts surface moments before the start, I imagine Dawn relies on the fact that she has prepared for this day, and she carries on.
How do we strengthen our mental muscle and increase our resiliency? Well, it sounds cliche to say have a bunch of challenges walk into your life. We don’t like problems, but for us to develop into mentally strong individuals, we need them. What I have found in talking to others and through my struggles is that mindset strengthens overtime when we become challenged with mental or physical pain.
Here are some ideas and practices that have helped me in my journey get through some tough obstacles. The goal is always to be mindful of your sabotaging thoughts and actions so that you can implement new behaviors. I like to think of these tools as sneaking around sabotaging behaviors because rather than focusing on what I don’t want, I focus on what I would like to occur. Use these tools daily, but as mentioned in number nine, when intervention is needed, do so accordingly.
Tools for Sneaking Around Sabotaging Behaviors
- Adopt an attitude that there is always another plan. Plan A is not the only definitive route to get to a destination. You are resourceful and creative. You can always find another way, but you must be open to the idea of another option.
- It’s not what you know but who you know. If you don’t have the answer, you need to find someone that does. Reach out to a mentor, a peer, or someone that has walked in your shoes. When I get stuck, I immediately conclude that I need to network.
- Immerse yourself in positive material. When exposed to positive books, audiobooks, podcasts, and videos, you will become more creative and industrious.
- Always recognize that this is a temporary setback, and it’s not permanent. It may seem so right now, but this too shall pass.
- Ask yourself, “What can you do right now with what you have from where you are?” that can get you closer to your goal. Sometimes we look at the whole plan and feel like we have bitten off more than we can chew, but what if you take just one action? Doesn’t seem so bad now, right?
- Focus on your big picture. This attention will keep you grounded when you hit tight spots. You will encounter them, but you are prepared and can look at the ultimate goal.
- Recognize that obstacles are part of the process. You have to have setbacks!
- Have yourself a great affirmation. What’s your superpower?
- When intervention is needed, don’t be afraid to do a mantra or slip in some laughing or, more specifically, laughing yoga. This activity will divert your attention and make room for a more positive experience. For more on the benefits of laughing, click here.
- Celebrate the wins! Finding just one small success in your day makes all the difference. Not to mention, it will boost your confidence.
If you are often late to work and it’s affecting your performance, or you are getting in trouble with your boss, you have to recognize that being late isn’t working out for you. This negative behavior is sabotaging you from having a positive experience on the job. So once you acknowledge that you are doing an adverse action, you can decide to change it and make necessary adjustments. If getting up earlier is uncomfortable for you, this may be a hurdle you have to jump. Hopefully, you see the value in being on time, and you set your alarm clock for an earlier time. In doing so, not only will you have better performance by arriving on time, but you will have a more positive experience. You will have made a small stride in overcoming an obstacle because you managed to jump that hurdle. Congratulations! You just learned what it means to sneak around a sabotaging behavior.
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