It is time for the third installment of developing mental toughness. For a quick review, we are working on your ability to maintain your composure and control regardless of the situation in front of you. We started with examining ourselves to develop self-awareness. Next, we wrote down specific values about each of these role models that we want to exhibit in ourselves. Finally, we started applying those values to small situations in our life to practice being self-aware in those situations that might cause us stress.
The more you analyze situations from the standpoint of how you think your role model would handle it, the more you start to look at situations with those values. Practicing values by imagining how a role model would do it is called Modeling. The more you model, the more those values become your own. A great way to know that you are living through your values is when someone else starts to use you as a role model.
To help make values your own, you need to combine modeling with self-awareness. Adopting a system of preparing, acting, and reviewing will make this most effective in your life. This is the “learning cycle.”
Preparing for life
Each morning, you need to prepare for the day ahead. There is no right way to do this as long as you are taking the time to do it. First, take a moment to layout the coming day. What meetings will you have, will you be traveling, do you have phone calls scheduled all morning? What you are doing is looking for upcoming situations that may not be “easy.”
Next, analyze that upcoming situation and what you think is going to make that situation hard. Apply your values to that situation and determine how you want to respond. Prepare for the worst, prepare for the best, and prepare for everything in between.
Living the situation
As you go through your day, reflect back on your morning preparation. Recall how you planned to respond with your guiding values. Try to remain aware of yourself during each situation you encounter during the day.
The more you practice, you will start to keep an eye on your mind throughout the day. Particularly, you will notice your value judgments and watch out for subtle feelings of anger, fear, sadness, or unhealthy desires and bad habits.
At the end of the day, take another moment to reflect on your day. What situations did you prepare for, how did they go, and are you happy with they way you responded?
During this evening mediation, you may want to ask yourself three simple questions:
- What did you do badly today?
- What did you do well today?
- What could you do have done differently?
How is this mental toughness
Remember, mental toughness means you are unflappable. Whether you drive home from work with no issues, you get caught in traffic, or you get a flat tire, you arrive home with the same attitude. It doesn’t matter if your day went as planned, or fell way off track, you move forward like nothing is bothering you.
If you want to develop this kind of outlook and control in your life, you need a series of values that are unbiased in every situation. Then, when you are faced with a stressful situation, you can approach it with a cool mind, always in control, and never reactive.