Creating Mental Toughness | Focus on the Family Australia
Creating Mental Toughness
By Dr. Wayde Goodall
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"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." ~ Proverbs 24:10.

I believe our Creator frequently gives us instruction to focus, to make up our minds, to set goals, to have vision, and to stay on track.

In the years I served as a pastor, occasionally another pastor would ask, “Have you ever thought of quitting?”

Typically, I would smile and say, “Yes, about every other Monday!”

We’re all occasionally tempted to give up . . . particularly when going through a stressful time. We might be in a season of life when we have tremendous negative pressures emotionally, physically, or relationally. When going through these times, we need to reach deep inside and decide to persevere, and fight the battle one more day (or hour). Often, we find strength we didn’t know we had when we trust God rather than quitting. A few thoughts on how we can get our thinking God-focused and under His control:

Slow your thinking and take time to process

Even though we might be going through tremendous uncertainty or stress, we can maintain focus. Ask yourself, “What’s going on? Why is this happening? What is God’s wisdom on this? Who will give me the best advice?” We ask God for help while doing all we can to slow our anxious thinking down. To do this, we need to put our worries on pause, think, meditate, go for a walk or a drive . . . but do not panic.

Do something positive and helpful that will move you (even just a little) toward your goal

You can do something. Sometimes we just need to get out of bed and start. The enemy frequently uses discouragement as he attacks Christians. Discouragement can certainly slow us down or even paralyze us.

When my wife and I attended college, we needed to find part-time jobs. After numerous rejections, I became discouraged. I needed to work, and—as a newlywed man—I wasn’t going to give up. After going from store to store, I was offered a job selling televisions and stereo equipment part-time. I didn’t know how to be a salesman, so I asked the Lord to help me know the products so I could be good at the work He had provided. I also asked God to help me be transparent and fully honest about the quality of the various TVs and stereos, and to have the attitude of Jesus. I thought, How would Jesus do this job, and how would He treat the customers and fellow employees? I knew He would have absolute integrity, would work hard, would be sensitive to people’s needs, and would be loyal. I made a list of those things and made it my mission to sell like Jesus would. I told the truth, acquired as much knowledge of the various products as I could, worked hard, and served the customers and my employer. I prayed for favour and for God’s help in this new job.

To my surprise, I began selling products, lots and lots of products, and made good money . . . while working part time. After a few months of doing that job, I was recognized as one of the company's top 10 salesmen in the country, and that department store wanted to talk to me about management.

"Work as if everything depended on you: pray as if everything depended on God." ~ Ignatius

We can waste mental and emotional energy by getting stuck in the rut of worry about what might happen to us. Fight the worry. Begin to move in a healthy direction – even if it’s only small steps.

Don’t use emotional energy on things you have no ability to control.

Our emotional and mental strength is similar to physical conditioning. Even professional athletes don’t have unlimited energy. They understand how to play their position and not waste energy on things they can’t do.

"Mental toughness is all about improving your mind so that it’s always on your side; not sometimes helping you nor working against you as we all know it’s quite capable of doing." ~ Jim Loehr, The New Toughness Training for Sports

When working with our family, friends, or others, we know we can’t control people’s behaviour. We can only do our best to help them. Ultimately, they will choose what they’re going to do.

Don’t waste your mistakes, failures, or sorrows. Look at these life experiences as valuable training and life lessons.

We learn from the past and gain wisdom and perspective from our wrong decisions and from observing the mistakes of others. If we’re mentally stuck on a mistake, failure, or tragedy, we can become paralyzed. We need to let it go. Our past mistakes and failures are training for the future; they don’t define us.

Be happy when others do well.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” ~ Romans 12:15.

Jealousy, envy, insecurity, and unhealthy competition will sap our mental and emotional energy. Encouragement, giving congratulations, and honouring people when they succeed will give us energy.
Help others win, and many times, it will be reciprocated.

Decide (one day at a time) not to complain or criticize

"The tongue of the wise brings healing." ~ Proverbs 12:18b.

Our words have the ability to heal or to hurt. You’ve heard it said, “Hurt people – hurt people.” The words that we choose have the power to make us feel better or worse, and to help others feel healthy or wounded. Complaining feeds negative emotions. Try to look at the positive. Find the good in yourself, other people, a job, or even our pain. When friends are being critical, point out the good, as you care about them and want them to have good thinking habits.

Be you — the person God created you to be

Many live their lives trying to make people like them. They purchase stuff (cars, homes, clothing, etc.) to impress. Some spend money on things they can’t afford and try to buy their friends. Some try to gain titles or trophies to impress others. This is a tremendous waste of healthy energy.

"The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." ~ Proverbs 29:25.

Genuine relationships make us happier, and we will only form genuine relationships when we stop trying to impress others and become content with the person God created us to be. We are unique, gifted and talented. We have God’s favour on our lives.

Be yourself. You'll have a lot more mental energy.

Believe that God wants to give you favour

"Good people obtain favour from the Lord." ~ Proverbs 12:2.

Take time today to tell yourself that God wants to give you favour, blessings, and wisdom. Don’t quit. Keep going. Do what you can and stop worrying about what you can’t do or what you don’t have. Be mentally tough and think about how God can provide and give you favour.

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