It is time to get mentally tough. With advances in technology, the increase in employee workload, and the speed of change, you have to be mentally tough to survive. Unfortunately, it seems that stress, anxiety and emotions are winning when it comes to tough situations, which means you lose.

Here are three suggestions to become mentally tough.

  1. “Stop All or Nothing Thinking.” Nothing in your life is completely black or white. This type of unbalanced thinking creates emotions, stress and anxiety to kick in and take over. Be mentally tough means taking a balanced viewpoint of events and situations in your work and life. Look for the positive and acknowledge the negative. One of the best questions you can ask yourself is “how much will you care about this event in a year?” To put it this in perspective, our house nearly burned down 20 years ago. Everyone got out safe, but I remember thinking that I was scarred for life and didn’t know if I would get past the house fire. Three years later I rarely thought about our house fire. What seemed in the moment to be devastating turned out not to be as life changing as I thought at the time. In fact, I am glad it happened. It isn’t too often you get a complete new wardrobe and furniture.
  2. Overgeneralization: In the trap of overgeneralization, you take one or two negative experiences and assume that all similar future experiences will also be negative. Is your boss crazy? Terrible work counterpart? Be careful you aren’t looking for the negative in every interaction. It might help to seek out positive traits.
  3. Magnifying: This is a common cognitive distortion that keeps you from being mentally tough. Magnifying is choosing to focus on negative aspects of a situation until it becomes the most important or only thing you focus on. A project goes wrong, a client gets angry or your boss provides you some very strong feedback and all you can do is focus on the negative. Don’t mind that every project for your client has been successful in the last three years or that your boss gave you a 5 out of 5 on the last performance review. It is important to not get stuck magnifying what has gone wrong and choose to embrace and highlight the positive.

To achieve mental toughness, you need to be aware of and in control of your emotions. When your thoughts and feelings are out of control, they lead to reactive decision making, illogical thinking and paralysis in action. Being mentally tough allows you to make calm, decisive decisions that lead you to the life you want to live and the behaviors you want to exhibit.

It’s time to mind your mind; go put on a helmet and get mentally tough.

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