A pink brain is drawn on a white background. The word tough is written on a 30-degree angle inside the brain. The text is wavy with a line crossing through it. The font colour is light grey.

The lie of mental toughness

I was tested recently. Nearly failed.  

Blunt feedback on an article shook me. More so than any other criticism had before.

It made me question my abilities. Negative self-talk chimed in. Imposter syndrome reared its hideous head. 

It pushed me to the brink of spiraling.

But support from my partner and colleagues, and a timely newsletter from Nick Wignall, pulled me back. 

“What you dwell upon, you become.”

Buddha

It’s believed that you create your own reality

The one I designed branded me a failure. A shitty writer who let the team and the client down. 

Emotions took control. Ones we consider negative—like fear and anger, even sadness. Ones we try to avoid because they make us feel bad.

But how you feel is impossible to avoid.

Instead, you go to war with your emotions. Battling thoughts, trying to wrestle your brain into submission. 

And you lose. Over and over again.

This war has a deep psychological impact. 

It trains your brain to associate certain emotions with suffering. 

So when they hit, they hit hard. So hard your eyes swell, blinding you from the true reality of the situation.

In my case, the real problem was an unclear direction. No one person’s fault—not me, a shitty writer and a failure.  

Nick Wignall tells us to stop calling emotions negative—to stop teaching our brain to respond in fight or flight.

To work with your emotions, not against them.

Because you can’t control them. But you can control how you react to them. 

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

Charles R. Swindoll

Strength in combat, that’s the lie of mental toughness. The truth is mental resilience. 

Toughness feels confrontational. Resilience feels adaptive. A small nuance—small but important

Work with your emotions, not against them. 

Process. Accept. Let go.

Keep on building, folks.

There are three pencils, each with a broken tip.

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