I worked on building the backbone to find other ways to get back in the game. I was resilient and kept at it until another opportunity presented itself.
Resilience is not just about having backbone. It’s building up everything that supports our backbone, starting with the way we think about the negative events that happen in our life. Let’s face it, we need resilience when the shit hits the fan and things go bad. If everything was a bed or roses, we would never need to dig down to find greater strength and deeper meaning.
Mental toughness is developing a tough mindset that refuses to quit when life throws a curveball. People who refuse to quit are game-ready when opportunities show up as obstacles.
Martin Seligman is a psychologist who has spent decades studying how people deal with setbacks. In his book, Learned Optimism, he states that we all have a way of explaining the bad events that happen to us. This habit of thought starts in childhood and stems from our view of our place in the world.
The crux of mental toughness is being willing to take responsibility for our actions. As Seligman states, people cannot learn how to be resilient unless they assume responsibility for the way they think about themselves. Maintaining positive beliefs about our abilities and our situation can enable us to become people who refuse to quit or give up on ourselves.
Related: 5 Reasons Why All This Happiness Bullsh*t Is A Lie
Here are 3 beliefs of people who refuse to quit:
1. Nothing Is Permanent
When I learned the undercover project would be shut down, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Failure hurts and it’s stupid to pretend it doesn’t. Failure makes everyone helpless, at least for that moment.
The difference between remaining helpless and bouncing back is by accepting that negative events are simply a part of the human condition. Aging, dying, and pain are inevitable. Joy, laughter, and happiness are also inevitable. And all will dissipate despite our best efforts to make them last forever.
Seligman states that people who refuse to quit do not feel that negative events will always happen to them. They also do not feel as though an opportunity will never come their way again.
The two key words to remember are always and never. Banish those words from your vocabulary and replace them with sometimes and lately. The negative event or situation becomes transient rather than permanent.
Affective forecasting is predicting how you will feel in the future. As it turns out, we’re terrible at it. We’re not good judges of what will make us happy. For example, in predicting how events like winning the lottery might affect their happiness, people are likely to overestimate how wonderful their life will become.
The same is true of interpreting how negative events will affect their life. People overestimate how their life will be ruined or negatively impacted by the event.
How To Make It Work For You: When you are down in the dumps and beating up on yourself, think about how much worse things could be for you. This forces you to identify the stuff in your life for which you are grateful.
2. Get Specific About Pervasiveness
It was tempting for me to throw up my hands and declare that I would never be an effective undercover agent. This would be a universal, or blanket explanation, that implied I lacked the ability to ever be good at it.
Instead, I got specific about why my cover had been blown. I was helpless, and a failure—in that particular situation. However, I also knew I could learn from that experience and move on.
People who refuse to quit are not drama queens who make every negative event a catastrophe. Yes, crap happens but people who refuse to quit narrow down the reasons why something was a failure. They are specific about what went wrong and why. Again, they are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and for the way they think about themselves.
“Catastrophizing” implies that you are a loser in all areas of your life, not just in the troubled area. This thinking is pervasive and can lead to people giving up on everything.
How To Make It Work For You: Hope is the cure for catastrophizing. Finding specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope. When you are confronted with a misfortune, check that your self-talk is not hopeless. Instead, inject a large dose of hope into your language.
3. Be Wary Of Personalization
I blamed myself for my failure as an undercover agent. I needed to take responsibility, and I did. As a result, my self-esteem plummeted. I began to see myself as worthless and not making a significant contribution to my squad.
I personalized the incident, and as a result, it affected the way I felt about myself.
They way we think about permanence and pervasiveness affects the things we do. The way we personalize a negative event controls how we feel about ourselves. People who never give up like themselves because they believe they are, and have been, the catalyst for good things. They do not believe good things come from other people or circumstances.
They accept that failure and misfortune will happen along the way, but they have hope that they will be resilient and bounce back because they’ve done it before.
Remember that personalization can be internal, where you blame yourself for what has happened. It can also be external, where you blame everyone else for your misfortune.
How To Make It Work For You: Optimism is not about ignoring life’s challenges. It’s the mental toughness to discipline our minds to create more powerful explanations about what is going on in our life.
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