Mental Toughness: Finding Strength in Difficult Times


There are a number of books and articles on the process of thought, and how to strengthen our minds. Yet, it seems the best way is to start with our past experiences, and look for ways to change our mind-set.  Just reminiscing on past experiences starts are brain humming.

A few years ago, I had my second back surgery, and still struggle with constant pain from nerve damage. The damage to my lower disks caused a neurological and muscular condition known as foot drop, which makes it impossible to extend your foot up. This causes your foot to hang down while you walk and feels like your foot is always asleep.

The problem basically lies in the “electric current”, which starts in your brain and runs down your nerves.  When the “current” reaches your muscles they are supposed to respond.  However when the nerve is damaged it stops the signal, and the muscle stops working and starts to deteriorate. After some time the muscle basically dies and now you have no way to lift your foot.

Finding Strength in Difficult Times.

If you ask anyone, who has undergone any type of rehabilitation process, they will tell you that the mental hurdle is most often the hardest to overcome. When you are in constant pain and discomfort, its easy for your brain to tell your body to stop trying, lie down, and give into self-pity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, A person is what he thinks about all day long.


Let’s take another example from the game of golf.  For a long time, I believed that golf was the most difficult game in the world.  Then after a few bad shots, my mind would automatically shift into what I call the “golf is difficult” mode.  Because my mind believed that golf was difficult, my body would follow suit and start to tense up.  Then my game would become increasingly bad, and my attitude would start to suffer, and by then it was all over.

I had a golf buddy who used to say, that golf is like life, and could only be overcome by “mental toughness”.  After one horrible game, he suggested that I change my mind, and start believing that golf was easy.  I thought it sounded too simple, but soon found out that my body started to respond to my change in thinking.

I began to realize that my mind was indeed my worst enemy. By thinking and saying to myself  – “golf is easy, golf is easy” – my swing become more relaxed and smooth, and the ball responded in kind.

Time after time I had to work on my “golf is difficult” mind-set, and start to develop mental toughness.  Shortly after this shift my game became much better, and now I look forward to each and every game, no matter how I play.

Over time I realized my friend was right all along, and I found many other areas in my life to apply mental toughness.

The moral of the story

If you are having a difficult time, maybe its time to stop trying to change the situation.  Maybe its time to change the way you think about the situation.  Then finding strength in difficult times may not be so hard.

 Visit our Build Mental Toughness – using 6 simple principles.