Am I tough enough?
This is a question I’ve asked myself so many times throughout my life when faced with challenges. And for the record, when I say tough, I’m not just talking physical strength or speed or endurance, I’m talking mental and emotional toughness. The ability to push through emotion, self doubt, or pain (or use these things) to either make a difficult decision or do something challenging. Sometimes the feat to be achieved is physical, sometimes it’s a mental or emotional feat.
There’s a Canadian company called Strong Athlete (@strongathlete on Instagram). I suggest you follow them if you don’t already. I’m on their email list and I love their motivational, uplifting articles; this morning they sent an email called “Are you mentally tough enough to succeed???” I loved the message it contained, so their email inspired this post because I want to share their message with you. To quote from their email, “What all champions have in common is superior mental toughness to survive the rigors of competition… and life! They have an ability to dig down deep and deliver incredible performances time and time again.” They went on to describe the ways these superior athletes develop mental toughness:
1. Embracing failure
2. Mental rehearsal
3. Success imaging
4. Goal setting
5. Support team.
They emphasized that mental toughness was something that has to be worked at and practiced over and over, time and time again in order to be achieved. I agree wholeheartedly and I think this can apply to everyone, not just elite athletes. I can think of so many times in my life when I was – sometimes unknowingly – developing my toughness and using at least one of these five methods. Most recently, giving our dog to a new home; that was the most emotionally tough thing I’ve had to do in a long time. I’d say I had to embrace failure (we do feel we failed him) and also use mental rehearsal (in this case, imagine him happy with a more suited family) to achieve the outcome we have.
Then there’s having kids. Not just the labour and delivery part but more so the daily grind.
I’d say nearly every day I’m faced with a challenge as a mom that requires toughness. In fact, in my opinion, moms are some of the toughest people I know. The endurance it takes to wake up every two hours to breastfeed when you’re so tired you could cry (and sometimes do). The steel it takes to chase your toddler around at 4pm when they want to play tag after you’ve had a night of next to no sleep and a day of complete chaos. The emotional acuity it takes to stay calm while chipping poop off the walls after your child has had another potty training accident in his room. I mean, these are just a few ways moms are tough.
MOMS – give yourself some credit. You are tough even if you don’t know it.
Another instance in which I had to ask myself the question Am I tough enough? was this past summer. I was faced with an impending emergency abdominal surgery, during which my very skilled surgeon ended up saving my life. Going into that surgery I had to steel myself emotionally and mentally for all the possible outcomes; among the options was a permanent colostomy bag. Going in, I’m so glad I didn’t know not making it was an option. I was beyond lucky to have experienced the best possible result and am fully recovered, but the recovery afterwards was also difficult and I had to continue to focus forward on recovery and my goals. In this instance, goal setting came in handy.
See, I have a goal that I don’t voice often and haven’t written about, so not many people know about it.
I hesitate to tell people because it’s silly and funny but also very real in my mind. Plus, with voicing a goal comes vulnerability and the massive potential for failure. But in the spirit of toughness, and embracing potential vulnerability in order to grow personally, I’m ready to give this goal a voice… My goal is to be an American (Canadian, lol) Ninja Warrior!
Before my surgery in July I had started my training; I’d been recovering from having Gunnar in December 2015 and had started boxing and working upper body strength and rebuilding my core and then was hit like a freight train with this surgery. Recovery was slow but I was *relatively* patient and am working smart every day in the gym towards my goal; I’ve found working smart is a learning curve. So now as I apply for ANW (you have to apply and be accepted to even try out on the course!) and as I work toward my goal with the help of my Title Boxing trainers and a bad ass nutrition coach, Jennifer Van Barnefeld-Pe aka @coach_jvb, I’m noticing all of the toughness building tools Strong Athlete talked about. I’ve embraced failure so many times, in so many ways. From failing on reps to completely falling on my face and making an a** of myself at gymnastics (for real, it was so mortifying). I mentally rehearse by imagining myself nailing obstacles on the course. I practice success imaging by remembering small successes I’ve had in training and recapturing that feeling of success. Goal setting: my goals are written down. And finally, I’ve got my support team in place like I mentioned, with my trainers and my nutritionist, as well as my family and friends who are supporting me.
I know my goal of being an ANW is kinda funny, but it’s real to me. If I get to try the course, it will be one of the more enjoyable tests of toughness among those I’ll face in my life.
In my opinion, there isn’t anything that requires more toughness than being a mom so I’m not scared. I’m excited to embrace the challenges ahead and, more than that, I’m thrilled to challenge myself to become tougher with each obstacle I’ll face both on and off the course. I mean, if I can keep my cool while scrubbing poop off a carpet for the third time in a week I can conquer the ANW course, right? 😉
Not much feels better than testing yourself to do something challenging, and then actually doing it. I suggest putting into practice the steps outlined to achieve toughness by Strong Athlete; after all, you don’t know what you’re capable of until you steel yourself, embrace the possibility of failure, and TRY the damn thing. What are some of your moments of toughness you’ve experienced? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!