Becoming Mentally Strong

Recently I came across this TED talk by Amy Morin and it struck a cord in me; both on a professional and personal level.  Lately I have been working on building programming around bolstering resilience for others at the same time that I have been going through a sort of resiliency training boot camp myself.  Life has been tossing me challenge after challenge this year and I have been working on taking the blows like our friend Dory and have just kept swimming.

“JUST KEEP SWIMMING, SWIMMING, SWIMMING.”

That being said, I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that there have been some not so healthy habits that I have picked up along the way that while they don’t cause much damage, they are still there like the blankie one uses to curl up in when they are not feeling well.  Also creeping up are some old, old, old mental habits that have been creating limitations for longer than I can count.

Amy Morin’s talk made me think about the concept of resiliency and what one needs to do for themselves when they want to become mentally stronger.

Her story, while filled with devastating occurrences, is not that different from the average person.  It is HIGHLY unlikely that anyone gets to walk through this lifetime without struggle, pain, loss and at times devastation that brings them to their knees.  These are human experiences that have very little to do with the person themselves. The difference in her story is that how she walked  through these experiences to become a stronger person by dealing with her own inner demons.  She had to sit with her own discomfort and delve into her dark place within before she could find a sense of happiness in her life.

There was one part to her talk that felt like it touched a deep place within  She said

“Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep losing all my loved ones.  This isn’t fair.”

And just as she had said this to  herself she caught herself realizing in that moment that it was this way of thinking that had kept her trapped in the past.

WOW, Just WOW….

How many times have I, in a moment of utter overwhelming sadness, sat and had my own pity party thinking

“WHY, WHY, WHY?”

As if I was Nancy Kerrigan after she was attacked during the 1994 Olympics

(Poor Nancy Kerrigan, she was done wrong…..that damn Tonya Harding)

But seriously, the pity parties are so common during times of strife and yet how helpful are they really? They provide temporary relief because in that moment you are free to be the victim of life’s circumstances.  But once that moment passes, if you have any level of awareness, you realize that being the victim only keeps you trapped.

So instead , what is one to do?  What helps us become mentally strong and resilient?

Well Amy Morin talks about creating healthy habits.   In this Psychology Today article on the 7 Habits of Highly Emotionally Strong People by Guy Winch, PhD., the following were suggested.  Here’s my take on their suggestions….

1.  Gain Control after a Failure….and I would say there is no such thing as a failure.  I’ve had a couple of things occur this year that felt as though they were big time failures.  And yet….in my more mentally strong moments…I know that they were just opportunities to learn and grow. That’s all.

2.  Find meaning in loss and trauma….I believe that this is CRUCIAL  in life.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  There can be a lot of answers to that one but I am going to simply say…because we are human. Period. We are on this planet to learn and grow, that is why bad things happen.

3.  Disrupt the urge to brood and ruminate….KEY in shifting out of self pity.  Do not stay there too long; it’s SO not helpful.  Shift your attention and focus to something healthy and positive.

4.  Nurture self esteem….YES!  You matter.  It is your life, you need to be playing the lead role not the sad sorry friend.  Self care is critical to living in a mentally strong body.  How you treat yourself shines from the inside out.  If you are not taking care of yourself you are giving the message that you are not worth it.  There is NO WAY that message is going to bring anything positive your way.

5.  Revive your self worth after a rejection…….goes without saying but is so important.  This may take time and that is OK.  Time heals al wounds as they say.  Give yourself the time to heal and have patience with the process

6.  Combat loneliness by identifying defeating behaviors….there is a difference between taking time to oneself and isolating.  The line is fine.  Know when you are hiding and feel how that feels.  For me, there have been times when that has felt like the most nurturing thing I could do for myself.  I needed to go within to move through.  But I also know when the line has been crossed and it’s time to stop hiding.

7.  Shed excess guilt by repairing relationships….some relationships are meant to be repaired and others are meant to be shed.  There is always a season and a a reason.  When you are going through a transformation process, not all relationships will fit as you shift and change.  Old patterns are just that…old and worn out.  Let go if it seems best, say sorry if that seems appropriate and then move on.

Going through experiences that feel life changing can be exposing as well as liberating.  I can be in either place depending upon the day or moment of the day.  When I am able to practice any of these suggestions, which is more often than not these days, I feel strong, empowered and resilient.  When I lapse I feel the difference in my heart and soul which helps me to get back on track.

How about you?  What helps you to feel mentally strong and resilient? What do you notice that helps and what doesn’t?

Cheers to embracing the strength within you!

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