"How do you train your mind to never give up?"
I wish I could give you the secret to building a mind of steel. A mind that never gives up. To be honest, I'm still working on building a strong mind. In fact, I think building a strong mind takes a lifetime. You don't just wake up one day with an unbeatable mindset and, most importantly, to remember, once you build your strong mind, you have to work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY. And because it isn't a one size fits all protocol, what works for one person will not work for another. The reason being is because we all have our own experiences in life that have made us who we are today. These experiences shaped our mental strength, our resilience, and how we handle stressful situations and obstacles in life.
What does it mean to "never give up"?
Well, there is so much more to "not giving up" than we think. Like I mentioned before, we have to work on our mindset every single day, and there will be times in our life that we do "give up," whatever "giving up" means to us. There are so many books, podcasts, and other resources out there on mindset, but I wanted to share three areas I think can immediately help people develop mental resilience.
This one is more technical. When we are faced with obstacles in sport or in life, we can't do much about the obstacle. What we can do is create habits that build up our reliance. So that when it hits the fan, we can always rely on our habits. What does this look like? It literally starts with the smallest things. You've probably heard this one before, but what is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button? One way to train our minds to never give up is to develop our discipline. It starts with the little things. If you set out to make your bed EVERY single morning, no exceptions, that small act will build your discipline. When you start becoming disciplined in one part of your life, it can lead to bigger moments. Such as working out every day, eating healthy, doing your mobility, not procrastinating on your homework, etc. The same goes for a workout. Do you catch yourself stepping away from the bar or standing with your hands on your knees? Doing this in a workout is building habits… defeating habits. The next time you are in the middle of a hard workout, promise yourself that you won't back away, you won't shake your head in defeat, and you won't place your hands on your knees. Build the habit of standing tall and proud, of facing the task at hand. Over time committing to these habits help build your mental toughness, resilience, and grit.
Short term memory
You often hear athletes talk about having "short-term memory." What does this mean? It means that when things don't go your way, such as getting a no-rep, a reff making a "bad call," or even you mess up on a project, you have to forget about the negative and focus on how you are going to make the situation better. Let's take a competition, for example. You mess up on a rep, or maybe a judge messes up your count. In that moment, you can either be upset and throw a fit, or you can forget about it and move on. In the first scenario, you waste time and energy by getting upset, arguing, or getting riled up. You immediately put yourself in a negative mental state, which can linger not only in the workout but also in the next couple of days. Wouldn't it be so much better to just let it slide off your shoulder and figure out what you have to do to keep moving forward? Having "short-term memory" saves you from wasting precious time and energy. You need to keep that energy for more important things.
Adapt to it
Nothing in life goes according to plan. Part of having a mind that never gives up is learning how to adapt to life's challenges. That's what makes us human, after all. We are pros at adaptation. Those who succeed are those who adopt the quickest. I love the quote, "Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods." You can be fierce with your dreams and goals, but we must be soft in how we get there. We often get frustrated with ourselves for not following our "plan." I'll let you in on a secret; the sooner we can let go of this idea that everything will go according to the "plan," the sooner we will be able to jump through life's obstacles. Adaptation is not giving up. It is the opposite. When you are flexible, you can propel yourself forward in a much more resilient way.