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Tough People Never Break, They Bounce Back!

Tough People Never Break, They Bounce Back!

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An excerpt from Journalist & Writer and Motivational Expert, Nona Walia’s debut book “The Art of Mental Toughness” that helps you thrive not just survive the bad times.

Bend, don’t break. This means ‘be flexible’. Remaining unbroken is a skill in a world which is forever trying to challenge you. Mentally tough people have smart survival strategies. It’s fascinating how mentally tough people set themselves apart from the crowd. They foresee challenges and overcome them with ease. Sports psychologist and mental trainer to athletes, Mugdha Bavare, has won 500 gold medals, 300 silver medals. She trains sportspersons to be mentally tough. ‘Training for toughness is about asking people to flex their grit and endurance. Toughness is having the ability to bounce back. Mental Toughness is difficult to build. It requires patience and hard work. Personalities don’t change overnight. It’s a daily effort to build your toughness. In a pandemic world, I had the most tough athletes call me up for help. Everyone was out of balance.

Some sports like Boxing and Wrestling require tougher nerves, because, you have to be aggressive. You need nerves of steel. In a post pandemic world, everyone can benefit from toughness training. Being mentally tough requires passion, motivation, goals and a scientific approach to life. The strategy to becoming mentally tough requires long-term vision. You cannot work on it on a short-term basis. It requires persistence and perseverence. You have to see the things that you can control, and maximise them to your advantage. It requires training your thought pattern the way you think impacts your toughness. Visualization is another technique for Mental Toughness. Practise extreme positivity, which can be tough to build in trying circumstances. Have an ability to bounce back. Think of adversity and strategize about how to beat it. You will always bounce back quicker.

Author Nona Walia with her book "The art of Mental Toughness"
Author Nona Walia with her book “The Art of Mental Toughness”

Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of Mental Toughness. You cannot be mentally tough without the ability to fully understand and tolerate strong negative emotions. Moments that test your toughness are ultimately testing your Emotional Quotient (EQ). Resilient people develop a mental capacity that allows them to adapt with ease during adversity. Bending like bamboo instead of breaking or being uprooted like an oak. Resilient people possess a set of powerful traits that keeps them in control of their emotional quotient. They can control how they are going to react to adversity, and don’t let adversities overpower their thought process.

Julian Rotter, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, developed the concept of what he calls ‘locus of control’. It refers to the perception that events are determined by one’s own behaviour (internal control) or by such outside forces as other people or fate (external control). Some people, he says, view themselves as essentially in control of the good and bad things they experience, i.e., they have an internal locus of control. These are the people who bounce back, they master the skill of getting up quickly after the fall.

Learning how to master adversity well is a skill. How many of us can really master adversity? The pandemic emotionally shook the strongest and the toughest people.

Like any other skill, learning to suffer well requires conscious practise and learning. Says Dr Saloni Singh, life coach & psychotherapist, ‘Learn to bounce back. When life throws an oddball at you, don’t break, just bounce back. Pandemic taught us that that we do not control every aspect of the world around us. But there’ll always be room for acceptance that not every day and everything in life will go our way. That means even with the best life preparation, there will always be factors beyond our control – like not being able to go to office, school or outside because of an ongoing pandemic. When we accept this fact, we move towards becoming tough and resilient and ask ourselves better questions, like what’s the best I can do in this situation? The choices we make in these challenging moments of life determines our well-being and even the level of success that will follow. Hence, having resilience and toughness is not just important but crucial. Mental Toughness is a trait or quality that can be learnt with a positive and growth oriented mindset.’

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Sitting with self in reflection and introspection. Journaling about one’s thoughts and feelings. Observing your strengths. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, stillness, counting your gratitude and blessings – these are all tools which help us to be flexible. Here one must stay clear of the idea of moral hazards, because being flexible in mind does not mean moral turpitude. Sports requires agility, perseverance and consistency. Train yourself to respond to difficulties and crisis in an effective way. That is respond, not react. Having such discipline in life will definitely help you to instil confidence. In an uncertain world, personal ability to be tough, remain flexible should be the only constant.

The key to resilience is trying hard, then stopping, then failing, then recovering, then trying again, then failing, then trying again… It’s a lot about stamina of the body and mind. It’s about a high degree of self-belief, hope and optimism. Dr Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, in a Harvard Business Review article, ‘Building Resilience’, in April 2011 had said, ‘Talk to yourself. Challenge your downbeat thinking. And replace it with a positive outlook.’ In the pandemic, resilience is looked upon as some sort of a ‘miracle drug’, a panacea, something that can heal all wounds and right all wrongs. But it’s the ability to ‘bounce back’ after we face failure, instead of sludging in self-pity. Stand up, get a hold on your life and continue living joyfully. You are always becoming a braver, tougher, stronger version of yourself. Repeat that. Believe that.


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