First a little background: I’ve been working-out with my wife daily while recovering from my second knee surgery. – It only took 9 years of marriage and 3 surgeries. J – One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is getting her off this one word she keeps using: “can’t”. It’s really annoying. Now, you also have to know I’ve spent 15 years in the Marine Corps learning every day of my life. One of the primordial lessons of Marine Corps training is proverbially removing that word from your vocabulary. One of my former leaders was fond of saying, “Don’t tell me why you can’t; tell me how you can.” – There is tremendous value in that quote. – Today, I quoted that to her; along with “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” in the accent of a Spaniard. As we continued our work out, push-ups came along. I saw a video the other day of a Marine doing 22 for 22; raising awareness to the fact that 22 veterans and servicemen commit suicide daily. This combined in the mysterious depths of my inhuman imagination to form the thoughts leading to this article. The inquiry occurred: Is it a thinking problem? This brought me full circle back to mental fortitude.
So, I want to explore mental fortitude. ‘What is it?’ and ‘How does it work?’. There are also some things I think people struggling with mental fortitude issues need to understand.
As a note: This is a completely original work. I’m not intentionally quoting any medical, educational, or governmental sources. This article is not medical in nature and should not be construed as such. If you have REAL mental problems, get help from competent authority.
Mental fortitude is quite simply the ability to overcome the subconscious and instinctual mind with the conscious mind. So when that voice in your head says, “you can’t”, or “just give up”, or “it’s not worth it”; you have to ask yourself, “Why?”. Is it really not worth it? Is it really too hard? Surprisingly, sometimes the answer is yes. It’s never that simple though. You have to have the mental fortitude to change the conversation in your mind. When that voice inside your head tries to convince you of your weakness, or inability, respond with your strength and you will find the ability to.
That sounds much easier than it is. I mean if everyone could just do that, we wouldn’t have mental issues, right. (It’s a statement, not a question.) The thing is, everyone CAN. It just a matter of whether or not your crazy enough to fight and overcome your particular demons. Of course there are many nay-sayers out there who will completely disagree. I don’t particularly care. Bob (What about Bob?) took a vacation from his problems and recovered with baby steps and a never give up attitude. I know what you’re thinking: ‘but that was a movie…’ Well, every great story has, at its center, a kernel of truth. It is my personal belief that each of us can, if willing, master ourselves. It takes work, and – most importantly – discipline. Now don’t go skipping your meds. That’s not what this is about. This is about instituting a little mental fortitude in your life, a little at a time. It’s about looking at the person in the mirror and letting them tell you everything they hate about you. Then responding, ‘Cool, what are you doing about it?’. That’s not it though. You have to actually follow through. That is where we all struggle. We know what we want to change. We know how to fix it. But for some reason you don’t. Why?
By now you should understand how this mental fortitude thing works. It’s more about attitude than anything else. There are plenty of self helps out there for all manner of issues. I’m just saying, start with ‘Why?’ and change the conversation to a productive one. Instead of telling yourself (or allowing others to tell you) that you can’t, ask yourself how you can. Then do, because the conversation is pointless without action.
22 veterans commit suicide daily. It’s a very real issue that starts in the mind. There is a war raging in the mind; life is only as difficult as you allow it to be. Be the storm, blow away your demons, and accomplish greatness! Adversity breeds strength, and strength builds character.
Things you should know:
You are not alone! Everyone has an inner self to overcome.
The inner conversation ends with an action plan.
You can, if only you act.