Strength comes in many forms; mental, emotional and strength of character, and of course physical strength. Having too much of one power just feels unbalanced.
In this blog, I am talking about the mental fortitude to deal with a dying father. Still, for you, the reader, it could be about building mental strength to deal with your food issues, or your unwillingness to unpack baggage, or your lack of motivation to exercise/train. As I said, strength comes in many forms.
If you are interested in mental strength, making some changes in your life and getting proactive, this profoundly personal post just might kick-start.
Strength. I talk a lot about it a lot, and usually, I am referring to physical strength. I encourage a confident training attitude that incites trainee’s to lift better, healthier and more confident, and this, in turn, will usually lead to better performance in the gym. Strength comes in many different forms and has many different meanings, but it’s a word that resonates with almost everyone.
A while ago, I visited my Dad when he was sick. It’s tough to see someone so important to you deteriorate right before your eyes. This is a tough gig, and I never willingly signed up for it. (For those of you who don’t know, my Dad, who is only in his mid-sixties was diagnosed with MND, he has ALS which is the ‘worst’ form of MND). Less than 6 weeks before, my father was driving. Then, suddenly, he struggled to walk and spent most of his time in his new wheelchair.
In the past, I have been susceptible to breaking down, and this is what I did at this moment.
My mother is a huge supporter, caring and very aware. She would say, “where is that strong, wise, confident girl that does all that writing on strength on her Facebook page gone? Where is she? Perhaps you should go back and scroll through some of her posts….”!
Building mental strength is not dissimilar to building physical strength, both require repetition, awareness and technique.
If you want to become physically more energetic, you’d need good habits – like going to the gym. But you’d also need to get rid of bad habits – like overeating junk food. Training our brains is similar. We need good habits – like thinking positively, but we also need to get rid of bad habits – like shying away from change.
One needs tools, strategy, coaching and positive self-talk.
I like sharing my strengths, my information, my tips, and although sharing vulnerabilities I can, and I do, they are much harder to make public. So how am I turning this around?
The same way I train. I stare, I do it. I become aware of. And even though there are days I don’t feel like training, I do. Just like there will be days where one does not feel like being positive or building positive self-talk within – you must.
It is not about ignoring the moment, it’s about learning from the moment, and creating a different perspective of it. It’s a mantra.
For me, I know that mantra is critical. This is how I became successful in bodybuilding and powerlifting. I don’t underestimate the power of working on the mind with different exercises on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. So at that moment, with my Dad ill, I came up with this:
“I am resilient enough to endure my dad’s demise in health, and still find joy, happiness, and gratitude on the other side, and I am proud of that.”
For you girls, your mantra could be:
“I am strong enough to recognise that a healthy and good 8-year relationship wasn’t amazing, and walk away because I deserve amazing. I am proud of that.”
“I am going to beat my bad relationship with food once and for all, and I am proud I finally have the courage.”
“I am going to sign up for a novice powerlifting competition because although I am physically strong enough. I now feel ready to explore, putting myself in an unfamiliar environment. I am proud of that.”
Mental strength has three parts: thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Building mental strength involves learning to regulate thoughts. Hence, they’re helpful and realistic, understanding how to control emotions, so your feelings don’t control you, and discovering how to behave productively despite your circumstances.
I hope this post puts some fire in the belly to deal with your “stuff” with a stronger mentality – and the thing is a ‘stronger’ mental toughest is not ploughing through no matter what. In that way, there is a little different to a gym workout. Grief requires stillness than ‘heavily movement’, however, there are lessons in both.
If you read this and feel ready to do something or face something head-on now feel free to share what it is. I have shared mine, show me yours.