Steps to Building a Tougher Mind Part 2
Hello everyone! I’m Coach Briley with Complete Performance Coaching. Today, I want to build upon part one to this blog post and discuss the next three steps to building a stronger, more resilient mind. If you haven’t read part one to this post, I encourage you to take a look at it here before diving further into this one.
Additionally, if you want even more context behind this discussion, I encourage you to watch my IGtv post that inspired this series.
Here’s the full list of steps to build mental toughness:
- Choose positivity
- Intentionally seek opportunities for challenge and growth
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable (accept present discomfort)
- Control the controllable(s)
- Have a short-term memory when it comes to mistakes
- Prioritize progress over perfection
Let’s continue with step 4:
4. Controlling the Controllables
Coaches at Complete Performance Coaching talk about this a lot in our one-on-one sessions, and there’s a reason why! It’s so easy to get caught in the middle of our own lives and let the stressful situations consume us. When this happens to you in practice, competition, or in your relationships, I urge you to remind yourself of what you can control.
For example, in my last post, I brought up the scenario where a young athlete gets punished by a coach. Imagine you encounter getting punished by your coach for not doing well in practice and you have to stay late or show up early the next day. In this same situation, you can either get caught up in how much of a tough time you’re having, hate it, and get super angry, or you can remember what you can control:
- You have control over how you react to your coach’s punishment and how you handle making mistakes in practice.
- You can control your attitude, body language, and what you say to your coach moving forward.
- You can control how to interpret your coach’s punishment as their investment in you and their way of holding you accountable for mistakes.
In the end, remembering what you have control over is all about decision making and what choices you make moving forward. This may be easier said than done sometimes, but it is still worth reminding yourself of when emotions are intense.
Make time to process your choices every day by writing down a list of all the things you don’t have control over first, and then rewire your thoughts by responding with making a list of all of the things you CAN control. After that, throw the list of things you cannot control away and forget about it. If you have to practice that 50 times, do it 50 times.
It’s amazing the effects of writing down thoughts in a journal or on a piece of paper just to throw it away afterward; it’s not only therapeutic but also helps us reason through things that we are dealing with in our minds. The most resilient people decide that instead of getting mentally caught up in stressors that are not under their own control find that their time is better spent focusing on their actions.
5. Have a short-term memory when it comes to mistakes
While you will make mistakes in your sport that were ultimately under your control, the best athletes, entrepreneurs, and high-level thinkers often forget about the negative things that happened to them, such as losing or making mistakes on their part (and even mistakes on others’ part – poor/unfair judging, opponents outperforming them, etc.).
With this being said, I understand this is another example of “easier said than done”. However, instead of seeing mistakes as something permanent and staying with you forever, the next time you make a mistake or encounter an instance where someone else’s mistake affects you, acknowledge it briefly and take a lesson away from it.
You Choose How to Respond
Again, it all goes back to what you can control. Similar to tip number four, how you respond and react to mistakes or failure ultimately is up to you. When you think about it, wouldn’t you rather forget about the negative stuff and hang onto the positive stuff anyway? I know my fellow perfectionists may see this as not caring or seeing mistakes as always excusable.
Instead, see this as me giving you permission to use your mistakes in a way to help you and benefit you! Instead of letting your mistakes own you, I encourage you to acknowledge mistakes and failures… briefly. After a 24 hour grace period, do then not let mistakes completely consume you. Learn what lesson you need to learn and then let it go. Give yourself permission to take a day to be upset about losing the competition or having a bad day in practice. After one day, hit the reset button. One of my mentors phrases this perfectly: Reset it and get it!
6. Prioritize Progress over Perfection
Let’s finish this series with the final tip for building mental toughness. I have definitely talked this aspect into the ground with my weekly live group sessions. If you have heard me repeat this over and over again, it is for a good reason. Some of the things I remember most about my athletic career were not the perfect or even near perfect moments. In fact, what sometimes bring me back the quickest is the moments where I had to struggle so hard just to make it by.
It is not always about getting close to a perfect ten or beating your other competitors by a mile. Sometimes, the tough days in practice and the days where you barely survived are the most memorable and valuable.
Pushing Through the Tough Times
For further context, the days that I remember the most are the competitions where I was violently ill the day of or days before and somehow managed to compete. I’ll also never forget the days where I unknowingly competed with pulled muscles or even broken bones (***I’m not saying this is the best choice or the right choice for everybody, but I was fine enough at the time to follow through with competing).
That being said, I gather that the most mentally tough people will tell you not only the moments where they were wildly successful; they will likely also mention their pure enjoyment of the overall process and progress they made throughout their career.
The Daily Grind
My final point is that what you think you will remember the most regarding your career are the times where you competed/trained perfectly. What I think are actually the most valuable times to look back on is going to be the daily grind and simply the process of getting to the big meets, not just the big meets themselves.
When you back at how far you came from early on in your career and comparing yourself to where you finish, hopefully, it will further enrich your experience, in addition to the medals.
No matter what kind of athletic career you have, I hope you find that the results were not the only thing or most important thing to take away from your journey. I hope you prioritize enjoying the overall process and making progress instead of reaching perfection.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found something relevant for yourself. Feel free to reach out to me directly with feedback or questions. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Thank you!