When I first joined the FBI, I was informed about the FBI’s transfer policy—which meant I could be sent anywhere in the U.S. As an agent, this was just as important as the squad to which I was assigned. So I pulled back from developing relationships and buying a home until I had been assigned to my permanent Field Office.
After a couple of years of living in transfer-hell limbo, I learned that every few years the FBI’s transfer policy changed!
At this point, I decided I needed to live my life like a normal human being. I could not continue living in fear of the change that would be produced when I got transferred.
Change frightens us because they are voyages into the unknown. But the unknown is ultimately an invitation to grow our talent so our potential can continue to unfold. To refuse to begin our journey of change can be an act of great self-neglect.
Because to change is one of the great dreams of every heart—to move beyond self-limiting beliefs, boredom, and lack of confidence.
If you have mental toughness, you will do anything to break the cycle of behavior that disempowers you. You will need to push your limits and that takes resilience—moving into your discomfort zone crosses a threshold that awakens a variety of emotions: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, and dreams.
There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the potential that still calls us.
Why Is Change So Hard?
We opt to continue the old pattern rather than risk the danger of difference.
Research by social psychologists indicate that we are comfortable when our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are consistent, and uncomfortable when they are not—which produces cognitive dissonance. Change, and moving into our discomfort zone, means admitting that our past behavior was either wrong or that somehow we are now making a break from the past.
And this triggers anxiety.
Our brain is uber alert for change of any kind in our environment. When our limbic brain detects an abnormality, our animal instinct takes over. As a result, our first reaction is to either fight or run away.
Resilience is not only the ability to bounce back from obstacles, it is also the ability to bounce through them as we continue to move into the unknown that change often brings with it.
When you are mentally tough, you have the ability to interpret your emotions. When you do this, you understand that the anxiety you are feeling is normal—and even to be expected.
Questions Are The Most Important Tool In Your Mental Toughness Toolbox
Psychologist Marilee Adams suggests that questions can virtually rewire our emotions, thoughts, and behavior. According to her research, questions that we ask ourselves can open our mind up to learning, connection, satisfaction, and success.
Questions are piercing little darts that expose hidden anxiety, and once they elicit an honest answer from us, we are able to name the beast in the room—that is, the fear we are experiencing.
It is, however, essential to honestly name what is going on before you can trigger change in emotion, thought, or behavior.
Mental toughness is the ability to look into your mind and call it the way it really is—with no sugar coating or apologies.
Resilience is the ability to take it all in, without losing heart, without judging yourself, and keep marching forward.
Just as our soul responds to truth, so does our brain.
7 Steps To Create A Resilient Mind
STEP ONE: Create A Sense Of Urgency
If you cannot accept an urgent need to change, you never will.
STEP TWO: Put Together A Personal Board of Directors
Think about how you might connect with people who are wiser and more experienced than yourself. Identify two or three (or more) people you admire and respect with whom you can sit down with on a quarterly basis to review your progress. Turn these mentors into your own personal Board of Directors. These are the same people you can turn to when times get tough as well.
STEP THREE: Make A Plan
If you are going to change by moving into your discomfort zone, you need to have a strategy in mind of how you’re going to do it. Keep it simple, and review it often to make sure you’re still on course.
STEP FOUR: Talk It Up
Self-talk is incredibly powerful because our brain wants those inner dialogues to be consistent with our feelings and behavior. When we ask ourselves questions about why we are experiencing anxiety about the change in front of us, we open the option of finding positive responses to them.
STEP FIVE: Hunt The Good Stuff
Positivity is essential if you want to be resilient in the face of tough times. This does not mean ignoring the negative, but it does mean you will have to hunt the good stuff if you want to remain positive.
STEP SIX: Take Small Steps
Small wins are critical because they make the change real. Most importantly, small steps produce confidence as we smash outdated self-limiting beliefs.
They also create the opportunity to build momentum. Again, this is critical because each small step creates more confidence.
STEP SEVEN: Be Diligent
Habits are hard to break because they are found in deeper structures of the brain. This leaves much of our working memory available to deal with everyday surprises and situations. Habits don’t need as much of the brain’s energy, so changing them takes a lot of attention. Stay aware of a change until it becomes a new habit.
Resilience is the key to producing the confidence, joy, and fulfillment that lies on the other side of the discomfort zone.
How are you resilient when faced with change or when moving into the discomfort zone?
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