The only four letter word I never heard in my twenty-four year career in the FBI was “quit.” No matter how tough the training got, or hard a case was to solve, or the size of the obstacle in front of me, I never allowed this word to weasel it’s way into my thinking.
A great deal of what I learned during my four months as a new agent in the FBI Academy had to do with overcoming obstacles and breaking barriers. Each of us were pushed to the limit of endurance and performance to where we wanted to say “I can’t.”
If we weren’t pushed into our discomfort zone, the instructors weren’t doing their job.
It takes positive thinking + mental toughness to create the strong mind needed to overcome obstacles and break through barriers.
Here are four tips to keep in mind:
1. Chose Your Words with Care
The words you use are important. Words originate in the brain and they have a lot of power because they energize our thoughts. Words are thoughts spoken out loud. The words we say to ourselves can either inspire or destroy, depending on what our brain hears.
When you think you can’t accomplish a goal and want to quit, your brain puts barriers around achieving the goal; often these are no more than self-limiting barriers because you’ve told yourself you can’t do it.
2. Stop Using the Word No
Researchers have determined that when you see the word NO for less than a second, your brain releases dozen of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals that interrupt the normal functioning of the brain and impair our logic.
Now, if you say the word NO, even more stress chemicals are released into your brain—and not just your brain, but into the brain of the listener as well.
The word NO and other negative messages interfere with the decision making centers of the brain, often causing a person to act irrationally. Mental toughness is being able to interrupt this flow of chemicals into the brain.
3. Intentionally Choose to Be Positive
We’ve all been in tough situations where it’s hard to keep positive about our situation. Turns out that we have to intentionally choose to be positive because we all have an innate bias toward negativity. We process bad news faster than good news because our limbic brain system is survival driven. This explains why we’re driven to avoid losses far more than we’re driven to pursue gains.
The brain rarely responds to positive words and thoughts. That’s because they’re not a threat to our survival so the brain doesn’t need to respond as rapidly as it does with negative thoughts and words. To overcome this natural bias toward negativity, we have to repeatedly and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can.
Researchers have discovered that to overcome an obstacle or break a barrier, you will need to generate at least five positive responses to counter each negative one.
Chose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This allows you to interrupt your brain’s natural inclination to be negative.
4. Create New Brain Connections
When we reinforce a way of thinking, either new connections are formed or old ones are strengthened. So, when you maintain a strong mind that thinks in positive and constructive ways, these connections become more durable and easier to activate.
This is a tremendous concept, because it shows us how we can change our behavior. When we use the word yes, we are training our brain to make positive patterns more automatic (click to tweet). Since your brain is listening to everything you think about yourself, you might as well start using words that inspire and expand your vision of your life.
Mental toughness is positive thinking on steroids (click to tweet). When confronted with obstacles and adversity, mental toughness is saying “Yes, I can do it…And I can do it bigger, better, bolder, and more badass than you think I can.”
How do you talk to yourself in a way that’s uplifting and positive?
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