By Ron Pereira
Mental toughness is an interesting concept to wrap your mind around. Words and phrases like perseverance, suffering well, and discipline immediately come to mind when I think of what it means to be mentally tough.
But an area of mental toughness that, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough “air time” is how mentally tough individuals expect adversity and, most importantly, fully intend to work through any obstacle that comes before them.
Now, this isn’t to say mentally tough folks think they’re indestructible or that nothing can stop them. Instead, it means they know what to focus their energy on.
An exercise that can help us know what to focus on is to make a list of 101 things that could go wrong. These “items” can be anything… i.e. lose job, death in the family, have a stroke, house burns down, alternator goes bad on minivan, etc. The idea is to literally fill a paper up with potential obstacles or adversity.
Obviously there’s no magic to the 101 number… but it’s a good number to start with. If you have more or less that’s OK. But, for this to really work you need to put some thought into the exercise.
Once you have your initial list complete (you can always add to it later) the second step is to go back and categorize each item as things you can and cannot control.
If you can control the item a plan should be made for how to minimize the chance the obstacle comes to be. As one real example in my life… I could suffer from heart disease (runs in my family). So, my plan for minimizing this is to eat clean and exercise. Of course I could still drop dead of a heart attack tomorrow… but it won’t be because I’m overweight and out of shape.
Then, the things you cannot control should be brought to God in prayer. In fact, if you’re ever wondering what to pray for this list of things you “can’t control” can always be referenced.
With this said, it’s critical to “let go and let God” when it comes to these uncontrollable items. If you don’t let go you’ll drive yourself crazy with anxiety leaving you little chance of actually executing those plans for the things you do control.
So pray, yes. But don’t dwell and be anxious of things you can’t control. Instead, ask God to give you the grace to deal with any and all crosses that come your way. And then place your trust in Him and Him alone.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!