Mental toughness is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence. It is keeping strong in the face of adversity.
The ability to take a deep breath, immerse ourselves in the experience whether we like it or not, and start doing what really needs to be done.
Like anything this is an aquired skill. It takes practice - consciencious practice, and in a way is self-reinforcing. Wanting to develop mental toughness will take a little bit of mental toughness.
How do we do this? By being in the moment. Resolve right now, right in the moment, that you are going to do it. Whatever it is that your self doubting brain is telling you - just get on and do it. Make a start, do the next step, take a bit of action. Whaever it is that just beat you, whatever it is that your brain is telling you will beat you - that it cannot be done .. Take a step towards it, disempower it, take back control.
It can also mean that you stop listening to the doubters, the peoplpe bringing you down. Take a step to ignore them, allow yourself the freedom to be who you are, to be a person of action and control and determination.
Then allow yourself to feel good about it. Why not? Its considered the number one trait of successful entrepeneurs - the number one determining factor of those people that rise above everyone else, make a success.
Wouldnt that be an awesome gift to teach your child?
How can we cultivate this in children?
Let them know that not everything will go their way. Life throws you curve balls and will knock them down. It happens to everyone. Just knowing this, and being mindful of it can and will give your child a sense of strength - its OK that things go against you, not everything is perfect. What is important, and what truly distinguishes successful people is their ability to deal with adversity.
There are any number of parables and fairy tales you can relate to your child to show this. The classic Disney story is one of adversity, perserverance and a degree of mental toughness that allows the protagonist (hero) to get back up after being knocked down.
Look for moments where your child faces adversity. Look for moments where you just know that things may not exactly go the way they want. Prepare them for it, let them know you support them and that its OK for things to not go their way. Then, when it inevitably happens and they feel miserable and like quitting, practice mental toughness with them.
- Do the hard thing again.
- Confront the fear again
- Get up, dust off, try another approach
- Take some action so that next time it may be easier
And most importantly - give your child feedback that you are proud of their resilience. You are proud of whenever they take a fall, make a mistake, get beaten, don't win, proud of when they take all that and then try again.
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