Are you observing your own effort or are you consumed by it? They are two different things. One is empowering, the other is dis-empowering. One makes mental toughness a choice, the other takes it out of your control.
Mental toughness is a choice. But only when there is a separation between what’s going on in your head and what’s going on with your physical state.
Hard efforts and discomfort can be all consumptive. And when you are fully consumed by something you are no longer in control of your reaction to it. When you are consumed by the effort it usually controls you.
The path to mental toughness is in the ability to separate what’s going on in your head with what’s going on in your body. Awareness is the key to separation. Awareness creates mental space between you and the effort. Awareness of the effort allows you to observe the effort from a distance. Awareness, separation and observation of discomfort means you are no longer consumed by it. Awareness of the effort allows you to choose how you are going to react to the discomfort. And when you put the choice back into your hands you can decide whether you are going to be mentally tough. You can decide whether you are going to keep running towards that effort or whether you are going to back off.
But a funny thing happens when you start to pay attention to effort and discomfort. You may find that it’s not a bad place to hang out. There is a rhythm to effort dictated by breathing and heart rate that can be meditative and oddly satisfying. You can learn to love your time spent at effort. You just have to keep making the decision to be there.
Mental toughness is nothing more than the decision to keep running towards something that is hard to do. But that choice only exists if you can separate head and state.
First published at www.jasper.is