The Power Of Mental Toughness & Resilience
There is a distinction between what is known as mental toughness and mental resilience. Both are required with a mind-body integrative praxis. We can easily replace the word ‘mental’ with any other of the four bodies of the integrated human sphere.
We can experience and cultivate spiritual toughness and resilience, emotional toughness and resilience and physical toughness and resilience. The reality is we experience all of this simultaneously when we move through testing and challenging experiences.
We often associate more readily with our minds because we predominantly communicate through this medium. We think thoughts, which occupy our awareness, and language is the cornerstone of conscious communication, therefore our focus is placed here.
Know though, that all four bodies are functioning collaboratively and simultaneously at all times, in fact this is the only way. One area or extension of the human sphere may be dominant but all four bodies are always working.
Mental toughness is our ability to move through perceived pain across any domain of life.
The depth and clarity of mental toughness we are able to implement during stressful, arduous, difficult, painful, testing and trying times will determine the efficacy to which we are actually able to transcend that impermanent state of being. Mental toughness allows us to move through and endure these painful experiences of life.
Without mental toughness we would retreat and choose to not move through that challenging experience. We would become dormant (stunted in our growth and compassionate understanding of the world), non-courageous in our behaviours whilst never choosing to immerse in life.
We would further maintain a polarised view of reality and never truly experience the wonder and deep teaching’s of life that come from transcending, shifting and choosing to move through difficulty.
This would ultimately then translate to lost experiential and holistic understanding and benefit of self and one’s circumstances.
We would lack an ability to move with, through and understand painful experiences throughout life. This would polarise our opinions and understanding of the world – setting us ‘back’ with respect to our own growth and evolution.
When we are not experiencing directly and observing our reality in completeness, fullness and wholeness we are ‘losing’ in life. This is the vast importance of toughness. It allows us to move through, continue, persevere and proceed through these painful times.
There is much learning, teaching, growth and expansion at the proverbial evolving end of each of these challenges. To truly benefit and feel we must move with and through all aspects of life.
The importance of experiencing the wholeness or entire spectrum of reality is crucial to our psycho-emotional, psychosocial, physical and spiritual development and growth as interconnected human beings. Toughness bestows this diverse experience upon us.
Mental resilience or resilience is our ability to recover from pain, difficulty, challenge, stressful stimulus to the organism (physiological, mental, emotional, spiritual and social).
This recovery is not so we can experience ‘the same’ pain again (in fact all experiences are unique and individual and whilst we can experience similar life circumstances there are always subtle differences and discrepancies based on the multitude of external and internal variables contributing to that state). But rather so we can learn and grow from our experiences.
The ability to recover from difficult life circumstances is crucial to our survival. Think of it this way…
Those who have experienced a great deal of perceived pain only to commit suicide or end that pain in the only way they feel they know how is an inability to recover from that pain. With this comes an inability to gain great wisdom and learning from that difficulty.
Mindfulness In Praxis
This is where mindfulness and self-awareness (alongside specific coping strategies) are of tremendous benefit and use to us. Note: I am not simplifying or reducing suicide. Suicide is a complex matter of the organism that is inclusive of multiple variables and influences. Those who choose to suicide are at their perceived end point and feel ‘choice-less’ in their lives.
Our ability to recover allows us to reflect, go deep within, gain the value, perceive the value, apply the value and cherish the value to carry with us and add to our life skills.
We generally repeat cycles of growth and expansion where we collapse ourselves and rebuild and redefine ourselves. However, we can only live in this space when we have a capacity to recover. The proverbial and experiential point of no return is not an ideal state to be in and indicates disconnection from our empowered selves.
When we speak to (perceived to be) sensory (inwardly and outwardly experienced) traumatic events, such as death or an intimate partner separation, we often in that time are only able to observe the disharmony, disconnection and pain that is occurring.
The Importance of Toughness & Resilience
Here, both toughness and resilience plays an important role in regulating our being. I am not suggesting ignoring the feelings experienced with these events; in fact, I strongly suggest they are felt with completion and wholeness.
What I am suggesting here for the purposes of mental, emotional, spiritual and social health is that whilst we are choosing to immerse ourselves in these experiences we are mindful and cognizant of our ideals, ideas and values around these circumstances.
In other words, somewhere in our psyche we assume a Stoic approach that realises the deep value, teachings and growth associated with every experience in life including the painful ones.
Doing so provides us with hope, clarity, wisdom and context for a deeper and broader understanding of life and self. The tools of toughness and resilience will allow us to experience the fullness of these forms of experiences and come through with far greater connection to self and appreciation and gratitude for life.
It is this balanced view that provides us with an enhanced and evolved existence. Remember, if we cannot perceive value in choosing to recover from painful experiences we will not apply notions of resilience to our lives.
We experience human entropy when we do not understand ourselves, when we cannot recover from hurtful, disorientating, painful and arduous circumstances. We move in to internalised chaos and disorder and we (and those in our lives) suffer immensely for this.
It completely disorientates us and we lose an ability to focus and gain from life. Rather, we are giving so much of ourselves to ‘remaining afloat’ that we lose our connection to our core identity; we move in to survival mode and begin to dematerialise all that we are and have the capacity to be – we disconnect from our potential and live in an internal world of overwhelming pain.
Remaining in this space for too long distances us from actionable recovery and our ability to exhibit any form of resilience. Without this recovery we are not able to experience a fullness of growth and wisdom.
One is always glad to be of service.
Relational Alchemist, Speaker & Author
Relational Alchemist, Speaker & Author