When life gets tough, it’s hard to look truth in the eye. We’ve all paid a heavy price to get where we are today, and we need mental toughness to keep this important promise to ourselves—that if we keep looking for positive alternatives in our life, we will find them.
Looking truth in the eye, and recognizing it when we see it, has always been a challenge. One of history’s most reviled characters is Pontius Pilate, the judge at the trial of Jesus over two thousand years ago. Pilate asked a fascinating question, “What is truth?”
The scene on that Passover night would have been one of chaos as Pilate looked at the prisoner in front of him and felt the deep unease about what he was getting into. His wife had warned him against putting Jesus to death, and he was desperately seeking an answer out of the space between himself and the condemned man whose life depended upon Pilate’s decision.
The clarity of Pilate’s heart spoke over the clamor in his brain. “What is truth?”
We all live out those similar tensions as we pick up the same question and try to make sense of it. Often, that answer can be found in the gap we live in between reality and the illusion of ourselves that is formed by our ego. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The good news is: If you can recognize illusion as illusion, it dissolves.”
One of the best ways we can free ourselves from the tether of our ego so we can more accurately gage between fantasy and reality when we hit tough times, is to come to terms with the negative ways we look at our life.
For example, not dwelling on:
- Where you should have been if you had made all the right choices in life.
- Where you could have been if you had taken every opportunity offered to you.
- Where you wish you were if you didn’t have to be in the place where you find yourself.
- Where you think you are because your mind is out of sync with your heart.
- Where other people think you are or think you ought to be when they are busy with their own agendas.
Living a life of truth is taking responsibility for your own choices in life and realizing exactly where you are. Once you do, you are empowered to move forward because there is no longer confusion or lack of clarity. When you live life with a deep sense of inner strength, you feel as if you are in touch with a source of energy far beyond your own.
When both your mind and heart are aligned with reality, the power is liberating. When you do something out of duty, you need to muster all of your energies to get the task done. When you do something that gives you meaning and value, you hardly notice the demands on your energy—in fact, it seems to generate new energy.
Leaders like us ask the same question as Pontius Pilate. We ask, What does truth look like for me? Where is my heart leading me to go?
The only thing stopping you from pursuing what is true for you is fear; the only thing that will get you past this fear is courage.
What you do with your life isn’t up to your parents, your boss, or your spouse. It’s up to you and you alone. You are the only one who can push past the illusion and embrace your own truth.
To be mentally tough, you need to promise yourself that you will keep fighting, slap adversity in the face, and become a fearsome force to be reckoned with!
Here are 14 promises to make to yourself when you hit tough times:
- Identify an opportunity that you know is worthwhile but that you’ve been afraid to pursue, and go for it anyway.
- Make a commitment to a specific course of action that makes facing one of your fears unavoidable.
- Do one thing today that scares you.
- Discover a path that has heart for you and find a way you can honor that path right now.
- List five things you’ve been procrastinating about and plan to take some action on all five this week.
- Identify five people who can help you achieve your dreams and goals and find ways to bring them into your life.
- Using details, describe something that you will make you very happy.
- Write down your definition of success.
- Make a list of causes you are passionate about and then get involved.
- Identify something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done.
- Keep your word.
- Forgive everyone, especially yourself.
- Move forward.
- Brainstorm a list of 20 new ideas on ways to improve your life.
Finding your own truth will lead to your true nature, not the illusion that the ego represents. Fear can keep you from shattering that illusion but if you have the mental toughness to be courageous, you will have answered the greatest question of all: What is your truth?
What promises have you made to yourself when life gets tough?
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