Do not sabotage your mental strength

Mental strength is an important element in becoming a superlearner. The skillset is very extensive, so everyone has issues with some skills. At times we have doubts, maybe we think that we are not good enough, we do not have time for this, or we are doing something wrong… Some other times we are acting tough: want to practice 4 hours a day, want to speed up as much as we can and wait for the retention to catch or improvise with methodology. True mental strength does not include acting tough or debilitating doubts, it is more of focused on getting things done.

This article includes some of the differences between acting tough and being mentally strong.

  • Tough people believe failure is never an option. This mindset does not allow preparing for possible pitfalls, minimizing losses or learning from mistakes.
  • Self-portrayals of toughness mask insecurities. People telling how great they are, probably have more challenges than people focused on steady and incremental progress. Some skills serve as foundation for other more advanced skills. Any issue that is covered up may require much more effort fixing afterward.
  • Setting goals too high leads to failure and disappointment. Smart goals should be reachable.
  • Developing mental strength is about humbly trying to grow stronger based on an internal desire to become better. Expose your weaknesses and ask others for help.
  • Being strong requires acute awareness of emotions and how those feelings can influence thoughts and behavior. If you are frustrated by your progress, there may be a good reason for it. Try to find that reason.
  • Some things simply cannot be controlled. Do not try to do something that is unnatural for you, try to see ways to grow and adapt.
  • If you are in pain – this is a warning signal. Try to think how to do things differently, or you may collapse over time

Some errors we make do not debilitate us, but decrease our mental strength over time. This article tries to present some of these errors.

  • All or nothing thinking makes us ignore our progress. Things do take time, and it may be healthier to focus on small increments rather than reaching our final destination.When you’re predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes. Nobody knows what the future holds, so it is important to stay alert and be flexible.
  • It’s easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our life. If in some article or on some week you see a small degradation in your results, this is not yet a reason to panic. In real life things do fluctuate, so occasional setbacks are expected to happen. Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation.
  • If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. This is my personal demon, so I am acutely aware of its results. What helps me is visualizing perspective of my mentors in similar situations.
  • We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. Do not expect to understand me perfectly from reading one article or another, the reality is much more complex. When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.
  • Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. Half of the time students complain about problems, they are actually progressing accordingly to expectations.
  • It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts. Measure everything you can measure to avoid self-illusions.
  • Labeling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. When we create a marker for something, we occasionally might mistake that marker for reality. It is important to understand that our marker for something is not the phenomenon itself.

The biggest myth about mental strength is the idea that we either have it or do not have it. In fact, all of us have it in some degree, and we can build it up or lose it with time. Toughness, positive thinking or robotic behavior are not a part of mental strength skillset. Visualization, mindfulness and honesty help improve mental strength. Does some amount of stress help improve personal performance? Probably, but not too much stress.

Acting tough, thinking thoughts that lead to failure, assuming you are not good enough, will sabotage your mental strength. Do not let it happen.

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