What does it mean to be a strong person? To be someone who has mastered their emotions, roll with the punches and never give up?
When we think of what it means to be a strong person, the first thought that may come to mind might be an Olympic athlete or maybe a famous MMA fighter, right?
If we look beyond the surface, we would see that both of these athletes have similarities despite being in completely different sports. When we strip it down, we can see that they both have a challenge to face and they know there is going to be a struggle, especially if they want to come out on top. Despite the pain and the challenge ahead, they push through and go at it full force. They don’t complain that it’s too hard, and they don’t quit.
Despite the struggle, they persist.
When we look at it this way, it’s easy to see that people just like you and me also have the capacity to be a strong person. No matter who you are, each one of us has a struggle we’re dealing with, likely several. Whether it’s heartache, financial struggles, a high pressure job, or trying to eat better and exercise to lose weight, each one of us has something challenging we’re currently going through or have gone through in the past. However, the way we react to the struggle is what will set us apart.
No matter who you are, life is full of obstacles.
When faced with an obstacle, most of us have good intentions to change it.
For example, You decide you want to lose weight, so you go on a diet.
You start out with good intentions to improve your life. You go grocery shopping and buy tons of healthy food.
Then on Friday it’s your coworkers birthday and donuts are brought to the office. You can’t resist, so you have one bite. Then one bite triggers you and before you know it, you’re two donuts in.
You immediately feel like a failure. When a wrench gets thrown in and things don’t go according to plan, you get thrown for a loop and fall off the wagon. You get frustrated that things can’t ever seem to go right when you want to make changes.
You solemnly accept that life is simply too hectic right now to be successful. Between kids birthday parties, donuts at the office and the in-laws being in town, there’s just too much going on.
If only circumstances were different you say…
Fast forward a few weeks or months later, you see a movie or facebook video that pumps you up, so you start a new, even stricter diet than last time… and repeat the exact same cycle again, only to feel defeated once more.
You are reminded that your life is just too busy. Your job is too demanding, your kids don’t like to eat healthy. It’s too expensive anyway… so you go back to the old patterns and behaviors.
You resolve that if your life looked different, then you would be successful!
This is a dangerous mindset that will keep you stuck.
When we’re beginning a journey to become a strong person mentally and physically, we need to keep the keys to success at the forefront of our minds:
The first key to success is accepting that shit will happen. No health and fitness journey is perfect or linear.
Second, our reaction to the obstacles thrown in our path determines our success and our happiness.
Let me explain. If we are unable to adapt away from the mindset of ‘bad things keep happening to me,’ then we will stay stuck in a corrosive cycle and continue to suffer and fail.
The alternative isn’t easy, because it requires a mindset shift and taking personal accountability. However, this alternative path leads to freedom and long term fulfillment.
On the path to becoming a strong person, when an obstacle is thrown in our path, yes it will be frustrating, but we don’t stay consumed in the emotion for too long.
We acknowledge and accept our feelings.
At the same time we also ask ourselves what is within our control and more importantly, what we will do next.
We take the challenge as an opportunity to learn and become more resilient.
We adjust course and continue to persist.
“How is this happening FOR me?”
Acknowledging the struggle for what it is and accepting the pain is part of the process. The next step is asking yourself what is within your control to improve the situation.
The long term result is that you strengthen yourself mentally and emotionally and become resilient. Becoming resilient will help you handle future obstacles more gracefully.
You become liberated because you’re no longer at the mercy of whether things go how you thought they should. By taking personal accountability, you sit in the driver’s seat. Yes, you still have to put gas in the car, get the oil changed and keep up on the maintenance, but it is your vehicle and you’re the navigator.
At the end of the day, what determines if you’ll stay stuck or move forward is how you deal with the struggle. Whether you hide from any feelings of discomfort, and allow it to eat you alive while also firmly declaring there’s ‘nothing you can do about it’, or if you face pain head on, learn from it, and grow from it.
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and rise up stronger every time you’re knocked down. It’s the ability to endure and keep climbing. Strength is the ability to continue charging on despite the struggle and pain, and as a result you grow and level up.
The wonderful thing about this concept, is you can learn to become strong in mind and body even if you don’t feel that way right now. We all start somewhere. Even if you feel stuck or have given up in the past, it’s never too late. You can always try again and decide to look through this new lens the next time you’re faced with an obstacle.
What matters is that you don’t give up. That you see any future struggle as an opportunity to learn and grow because that is where strength and resiliency begins-in the mind.
You can choose to take control of your life and you can choose how to react.
When you realize that events happen, and you can choose how to respond to them, then you’re on the path to success and to strength. You can learn to build the resilience and persistence to never give up. No matter what, life happens FOR you.
When you’re faced with a struggle, follow these 4 steps to better improve your mindset and how you handle it. As a result you’ll begin feeling stronger and more liberated.
1. When something uncomfortable happens, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Acknowledge and accept your feelings. If you try to push your feelings away and deny them, they will only eat away at you. It’s okay to validate your feelings. Do try not to get eaten alive by them. The next steps will help with that.
2. Ask yourself what IS and IS NOT within your control. Once you understand what you can’t control, it’s easier to let it go and stop obsessing over it.
3. Once realizing what IS within your control, decide what you need to do to make it better. Everything you can’t control, try to let it go. If you put too much energy into what you can’t control, you’re going to feel more anxiety and stress, which will sabotage your progress. Put energy into changing what you can, whether it’s changing your perspective to a more positive one, or actually making moves to change the situation.
4. Ask yourself what lessons can be learned from this struggle? Be open to learning from this experience. Ask what you liked/didn’t like about the situation and even about your own reaction so you can learn from it and continue to make better choices each and every time you’re faced with a new obstacle.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Any one of us has the capacity to be a strong person. Each one of us has the potential to develop a Warrior’s mind, if we consciously put in the effort.
It starts with us as individuals and making the choice to become strong and resilient.