Your thoughts are always fighting for your attention, and the thoughts that you give your attention to are going to influence how you feel, and what you do.
Your thoughts fall into two broad categories; they’re either harmful or they’re helpful thoughts.
Harmful thoughts are irrational, overly pessimistic and demotivating. They cause needless stress (and worry), and cause us to act emotionally.
Harmful thoughts lead to counter-productive behaviors.
Helpful thoughts are rational, cautiously optimistic and they're also motivating. They help us cope with stress, avoid needless worry, and to act non-emotionally.
Helpful thoughts lead to productive and healthy behaviors.
This fight for your attention is like a mental boxing match, between your “harmful” and “helpful” thoughts, where one of them has to win.
Boxing matches have a referee and 3 judges. The referee manages the fighters, and the judges pick the winner. In this mental boxing match, you’re both the referee and the judge - because you have to manage your thoughts, and only you can pick the winners.
Your emotions, happen faster than thoughts, so in the heat of the moment, you’ve got to stop and think about how you’re feeling.
You have to ask yourself, “Am I experiencing harmful thoughts; or helpful thoughts”?
Boxers try to block their opponent’s punches then respond with their own “counterpunch”, and you’ve got to do the same. You want to block the hurtful thoughts and counterpunch with more helpful thinking.
And helpful thinking isn’t "positive thinking". Overly optimistic, wishful thinking isn’t helpful. In fact, it can be hurtful because it leads to counter-productive behaviors.
Positive thinking doesn’t always work, but negative thinking does! Negative thinking always leads to counter-productive behaviors! So don’t qualify your thoughts as either “negative” or “positive” - they’re either “hurtful” or “helpful”.
And remember, “mental toughness” isn’t the ability to cope with harmful thoughts. It’s the ability to choose “helpful thoughts”, the thoughts that lead to productive behaviors.
That's the mental toughness you can develop in yourself, and you can coach in others.
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