Jan 20, 2020
And now, a fantastic article from Original Strength Coach and Friend, Eric Grimsley:
“Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength-if we have the virtue of resilience.” –Eric Greitens, Resilience
We have all faced difficult days and perhaps some may be enduring difficult days right now. If you are, don’t be discouraged, because you can come out of those hard times. After all, you are strong.
One way to get better at dealing with difficult days, is through the practice of becoming resilient. To me, the practice of becoming resilient means that you gain experience when you decide to take action. With that experience, you gain new understanding. With new understanding, you can direct yourself on a better path or a better step forward each and every time.
The process to becoming resilient will give you more wisdom and show you that taking the first step is what leads to taking the next best steps towards overcoming your difficulty.
It can be tough to take that first step towards a better outcome. Often, when we are full of fear we become stagnant and we don’t know what to do. Because of this, because of the grip of fear and the havoc it brings, the first best step to take in any difficult situation may simply be to take a deep breath. Taking a simple deep breath can provide a moment of clarity. It is in that moment we have the opportunity to acknowledge the situation we are in and decide to take the action of moving forward. After all, we must all move forward, no matter how little the step.
It may interest you to know that The American Psychological Association has a section on their website that gives you “Ten Ways to Build Resilience.” Among those options listed are
Taking Care of Yourself
Nurture a Positive View of Yourself
Look for opportunities of self-discovery
Under the ‘Taking Care of Yourself’ section, they recommended exercising regularly. This resonated with me because exercise was the way I realized that I could help myself deal with my own difficulties. Let me explain.
I had a training season where I decided to have Tim Anderson of Original Strength write me some training programs. I was very curious to experience and learn some new things from him. Yes, I picked up some new exercise variations and learned some new training methods, but I also found something I didn’t expect. Through training with Tim, I gained a more resilient mind.
In Tim’s book, The Becoming Bulletproof Project, he talks about how purposefully exposing yourself to unpleasant things can help to build a type of “mental callus.” This mental callus can later help to protect your mind from would-be stressors. But it also bolsters your belief in your capacity to overcome any difficulty.
True to his intent, I definitely experienced some unpleasant training sessions! They weren’t “unpleasant” in the way you may be thinking though. They were never the wear you down so you can puke in the bucket type of unpleasant. They were more about maintaining and sustaining. This is where the unpleasantness came from!
I would usually have to perform work periods ranging from 10-25 minutes for a particular task or set of movements. The unpleasantness usually crept into my head about 3 minutes in. Yes, that seems quick, but Tim’s task were hard on the mind and the mind can be your worst enemy if it is not tamed. In the beginning, thoughts would run through my head like, “I have to do this for how long?”, “I’m already feeling it”, “It’s starting to get hard”, and “Am I able to keep this going for ‘x’ minutes?”
Mentally, it was a long road early on, for sure.
But then, like the American Psychological Association suggested, I discovered how to ‘Nurture a Positive View of Myself’ during Tim’s training sessions. Again, during the sessions, there were unpleasant moments that sparked quick thoughts of self-doubt. I had to learn to push those aside or I couldn’t last. I learned to snap out of those thoughts of doubt by taking a deep breath, then acknowledging that I was performing a difficult BUT doable task. I learned to approach the task one breath at at time which allowed me to perform the tasks one rep or one movement at a time.
This is how I learned to take back control of my thoughts. I would replace thoughts of doubt with thoughts of, “I can do this”, “Just sustain this pace”, “Just keep taking the next step forward.” Before I knew it, the task was finished. This method of training and what I learned from it helped me to develop confidence that I could sustain and endure the difficult.
The last suggestion I mentioned from the American Psychological Association, ‘Look for Opportunities of Self-Discovery,” just about goes hand in hand with the previous one. Once you gain that confidence and begin feeling good about enduring the difficult, you start to learn more about yourself. You experience growth. You realize that you are strong and that you can overcome any situation.
It may seem weird that something as simple as a movement training session, can help you develop resilience, but it can. Learning how to endure discomfort or get comfortable being uncomfortable builds mental resilience and tenacity. You discover that your growth has no lid. You can gain confidence in yourself session after session, day after day, week after week, and month after month. You know that you can endure because you have endured.
And that’s the message. You can endure. You can overcome. You are strong.
Of course, if you need professional help, seek that help, but know that you can overcome your situation. And the path to overcoming may start with a single deep breath. A purposeful, deep breath is a great first step to take.