Mentally Tough

In High Stress Workplaces, Does Mental Toughness Matter?

Neuroscientists have discovered through fMRI brain mapping and imaging that when a person is in fear, doubt or even worry (which is just baby fear), that half of the brain shuts down. The creative problem solving half of your brain goes completely dark.

Mentally tough people have trained their whole brain to remain active and pointed towards finding a solution.

Enter the two-minute rule: The two-minute rule gives you the cognitive space to become a first responder, here’s how it works. When you hear that voice on the inside that says, “That’s impossible,” or “That won’t work,” or “I don’t know what to do,” consciously suspend your disbelief for  two minutes and say instead, “Yes, that’s impossible, but if it were possible, how would I do it?” or “Yes, I don’t know what to do, but if I did know what to do, how would I do it?”

15 Habits of Mentally Tough People

3. They Neutralize Toxic People
4. They Embrace Change
6. re: Fear – It takes refined self-awareness to walk this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.
8. re: Dwelling on Mistakes – When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy, which produces positive emotions and improves performance. Mentally tough people distance themselves from their mistakes, but they do so without forgetting them.

I’ve been reflecting on how fear still significantly guides my life and affects whether and how I move forward.

One is the epiphany (I was sort of given) that my mind is the root cause of my bad skin. Specifically, it is my deeply ingrained tendency to keep everything in and expend effort to outwardly seem fine. Why keep so much in? I think it is because of fear. Fear of being abandoned and ignored. Fear of experiencing confirmation of this, since it is literally impossible to experience only positive, nurturing, loving responses from all people all the time. This fear has led to, why bother? The image in a book I was given is, you are told you have wings and you can fly – you’ve simply forgotten. My current state is, but I no longer yearn to fly. I’ve given up at some core place inside myself.

Currently, I’m working on this ‘my mind is causing all this distress’, rather than dismissing it. I have to admit, one piece that’s salient to this is having seen a couple of examples of other people actually achieving results by it. My initial challenge has been that I think too much. I think about achieving results, about quickly getting to the finish line, how to achieve it. These are actually antithetical to this concept. It’s about not caring, not being attached. This “caring”, being attached is exactly part of the problematic, ‘keeping things in’ tendency. And so I’ve just been practicing mindfulness/monitoring around my mental habits – “Did I just hold back? Did I prepare to endure, needlessly? Is there something that I wanted just now, but that I’ve taught myself to dismiss?” The tendency to want to be serious, be focused, work toward the results – this has been the hardest thing to drop.

Fear is informing how I move forward, specifically regarding the move to the US and the future with my wife and newborn child. It’s not as simple as being fearful whether everything will be alright, or that my fearfulness is paralyzing me and preventing me from taking action. It has to do with reassuring my wife that I’ll work to make things alright, that she will do/function well also, and taking responsibility for the truth that I’m asking my wife to do this. Regarding this last piece, I want to just be doing what I’m told. I want to be the one receiving reassurance and encouragement. But the reality is that it’s mutual between my wife and I. And organically, there’s ebb and flow – sometimes one of use needs more reassurance than usual.

And so I’ve been mindful to follow my wife’s recommendation to keep us positive and in motion (she has a lot of the mentally tough characteristics in all these article): keeping active dialog between us, including taking notes of what we’ve said and thought. This keeps alive the active, creative parts of our minds, rather than the small, fearful, dwelling parts. And the action that I’ve been taking, such as putting together the various documentation for her visa application, and even imagining/speculating about what kind of jobs I could have in the future – these I keep in mind and bring up in our dialog. I realize that it’s all fuel for this positive flame.

(And is my aikido training being any good in all this? After all, I’m realizing, I’m still very ruled by fear. Have I practiced to develop better access to my internal life? to see and manage my fear? There’s no good correlation between fearing being abandoned and whatever fears one might experience on the mat. Neither is there a good correlation for learning to trust another person and have faith in ourselves moving into the future.



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