|Two similar questions to address on mental toughness today: |
“From what I have been able to observe there seems to be a threshold when toughness breaks down depending on how severe and/or prolonged the situation being dealt with is. Some individuals seem to be able to sustain MENTAL TOUGHNESS for however it takes to get them through while others may wilt rather easily. This is excluding doing any conscious work to develop the toughness. Curious what makes a mental tougher.”
“In regards to Mental Toughness, is this a skill that can be learned and if so, how does one maintain this when multiple events hit all at once?”
I already address that mental toughness is a skillset that can be developed. Some people innately have more and others have less. (Just like any other ability such as creativity, intelligence, strength, emotional intelligence, intuition, etc.)
I’m not so concerned with why or how some people have more than others to begin with. Such is life. But I think it is more useful to focus on what can be done for the individual regardless of where they are starting at.
Last week, we talked about the concept of time in relation to mental toughness. Those concepts are important for these answers.
A threshold is a useful concept to use for mental toughness too.
An easy way to understand this is to think about physical toughness. A muscle strains against a weight. You can handle a certain amount of weight but not beyond that. Or with a weight, not beyond a certain threshold of time.
So a mental toughness threshold is up to this point, however you define that, I have sufficient will to keep going. Beyond this point, it is too much and I stop or breakdown.
As mentioned, both severity and time play into this, just like with the physical toughness. The other question regarding multiple events plays into it too. Multiple peaks of different intensity, happening within some span of time.
So let me give you positive and negative personal examples…
About a year and a half back I was taking a trip to southern California. I started driving down mountain roads about 5AM in the dark. I hit a pothole and the electrical in my car went out completely. This included headlights and I was in an area with zero streetlights.
I pulled my car off the road into a ditch.
Dealt with that. Not too bad.
Later on, I get my car to the shop and realize there is significant damage to the undercarriage.
In talking to my auto insurance I realize it had lapsed. I never received notice from them that my autopay was not working. Uh oh!
I work with them trying to get them to reinstate me despite the mistake. But I recognize that they might not.
That sucks. But I’m still doing alright.
Then my water heater breaks in my house.
And this put me over my mental toughness threshold. I got depressed. I got into a funk.
I don’t recall exactly how long I was down, but soon enough I popped back out of it. (Everything got resolved positively. The water heater got fixed. So did my car and the insurance did cover it, though took almost two months to reach that decision.)
I can recall reflecting on this at the time. That it was this third thing in a row of bad luck that got to me. Hmm, can I be more in control of my thoughts and feelings next time?
Fast forward to two months ago…
My house burns completely down. That’s pretty bad but I deal with it as best I can and am quite positive about the whole thing. My family moves up to southern Oregon as planned.
A few days after fires erupt here as well.
Dealing with that and still positive. So despite some catastrophic events and almost a repeat, I was doing quite well.
I mentioned one of the keys to mental toughness here, but as this message is getting long, I’ll spell it out next time…