Have you made a mistake by saying the wrong thing to your spouse or to your boss, or by committing a blunder at work, and then allowed yourself to think about the mistake long after it was over? Of course you have, or you wouldn’t be a human being.
Have you ever dwelt on the past and crowded out thoughts of the future? We all do, and unfortunately when we do we actually create more problems for ourselves. Expectancy Theory states that which we focus on expands.
Ultimately for you to develop mental toughness you will need to stop giving yourself permission to have thoughts or conversations that highlight your weaknesses, negativity, or obstacles to success. Always focus on your strengths and what you can do to improve and persevere.
Don’t be the one at the water cooler talking about how terrible management is or how under-resourced your department is. Be that leader who identifies ways to improve management and increase potential resources.
Replace complaining about the kids to your spouse with offering ideas to help make improvements to the children’s behaviors. Make the commitment to never again be the complainer and to always take control of making your life and situation better.
Those who are the most mentally tough have learned to adopt a relentless solution focus, or RSF as I call it. RSF is obviously much easier said than done, however follow this one simple directive and watch your happiness, health and success immediately and dramatically improve. Anytime you catch yourself focusing on a problem, negativity, or self-doubt, ask and force yourself to answer this question: What is one thing I can do differently that could make my situation better?
Asking and answering this question will undoubtedly develop your mental toughness. Your thoughts are the control panel for your feelings and behaviors. Therefore, the trick to controlling the way you feel and behave is learning to control your thoughts.
Replacement thinking is a great way of seizing that control. We know that negative thoughts are going to come into our heads: that’s normal. I wish I had a tool for erasing negative thoughts altogether, but I haven’t come up with one yet. Instead, focus on replacing every negative thought with a solution within 60 seconds. Your mind can fully focus only on one thing at a time, and if you are completely focused on a solution, you cannot be thinking about your problems.
You alone are responsible for your thoughts, and you alone can control them. Most people want a solution that produces complete resolution to the problem. That’s like trying to climb a mountain with one step. You overcome problems one step at a time, one improvement at a time. Any improvement, small or large, is a solution: a +1 solution, to be precise. Find your +1 solution anytime your mind begins to focus on the negative and you will have truly mastered mental toughness.