Problems, difficulties and hardships are a part of everyone's life. Yet, some people handle them better than others. They have developed a mental toughness that allows them to push through hard situations and successfully face adversity. The tendency to be soft instead of tough has existed for centuries. There is a story in the Bible found in Exodus 6:6-9 where God tells the Israelites that He will free them from slavery, accept them as His people and bring them into a new land promised to their ancestors. You would think that their response to such great news would be to rejoice and celebrate but that is not what happened. In Exodus 6:9 it tells us, "When Moses told this to the Israelites, they were too discouraged and mistreated to believe him."
The people had faced such mistreatment by the Egyptians and struggled for so long in captivity that they could not believe good news. Their lack of mental toughness caused them to capitulate to discouragement and unbelief. The same thing happens today to many people facing job loss, health problems, family breakdowns and many other problems. I have personally faced challenges that include the murder of my brother-in-law, the death of my mother to cancer and the year long deployment of my eldest son in Afghanistan. My ability to overcome these hardships and many others has been rooted in mental toughness. Tough times visit all of us but they do not last- tough people do. I believe there are particular qualities that result in this kind of toughness.
Optimism allows us to approach even the most formidable challenge with a belief that we will not only survive but thrive. You simply choose to remain optimistic in the face of adversity. This optimistic outlook must be pervasive to all aspects of your life: family, career, health. Optimism helps us to respond positively, creatively and energetically to negative situations. Though not all problems can be solved, many can with creative approaches. If we believe that God has a plan for our lives and good can come out of bad we can remain positive in any situation.
Mentally tough people have thick skin and don't let circumstances or people control them. One of the results of the social media explosion is the voice it has given to virtually everyone. Now almost anyone, regardless of his qualifications, can critique almost anything. You must be able to handle criticism and keep on with your game plan. Most criticism will not result in any measurable negative impact beyond your simply feeling bad. Mental toughness is about having a high tolerance for short-term bad feelings. At some point you need to simply say, "This is tough but I am a whole lot tougher."
Anything worth doing in life will involve high pressure situations along the way. Feeling discomfort is not bad but rather a sign that you are doing something significant. A realistic perspective on life is that it is at times difficult and unfair. There are things that happen to all of us which create stress and hardship in our lives. Are you mentally tough enough to deal with and overcome your problems? Setbacks are a part of life and provide us with comeback opportunities. You can rebound from disappointments, mistakes and missed opportunities. Tough people know they can overcome the inevitable challenges of life.
Adversity will make you dependent on God, clarify your motives and reaffirm or change your goals like nothing else I know. I have found no better way to deal with the adversities of life than to pray and ask God for help and guidance. Prayer brings a peace that is undeniable. The temptation that we face with problems is to try and fix them quickly but not all problems can be fixed quickly if at all. We can in fact react which could cause more problems. Prayer helps us to be more patient and wait on God's timing rather than our own. Mental toughness is needed in order to not miss out on God's best for your life.
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