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Why You Don’t Have To Aim At Being Mentally Strong

Why You Don’t Have To Aim At Being Mentally Strong

I was mindlessly playing Madden 25 and listening to music when I heard a unique line come bursting through my headphones, “Nothing wrong with not being strong. Nothing says we have to beat what’s wrong.” There I was, a young 21 year old just over indulging in video games during holiday break at college and that line (and song and album) left me dumbfounded.

For a length of unknown time — probably my whole life — people had been explaining to me that I had to be mentally strong and if anything, pretend that I was not whatever I was. What was I? A bit anxious and depressive, yet working through it. What was I portraying? Nothing is wrong, don’t ask, and I am a normal human being. However, thanks to a man by the stage name of El-P, my mental strength was able to grow without forcing myself to have to be mentally strong.

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It’s like this: if an individual is too short to dunk in basketball, why shape them into a player that would try and dunk? Of course, they will need to work with their own set of individual skills that they have to improve their game and make them a force to be reckoned with. That might not be the best analogy, but the mind kind of works in the same light. If you are not mentally strong (don’t worry I am not either) then do not force yourself to pretend to be for the sake of someone else’s words around you. There is no fun in pretending to be someone else, and there is no worthwhile value in that. It is more beneficial to learn how to work with your own mind, specifically.

Let’s say you have the gift (and curse) of having a rather anxious mind. You quickly jump to the worst case scenario and constrict yourself in social situations. You start feeling the collapse in your lungs whenever crowds of people are around, even if they are just passing. It’s okay to be overwhelmed if you have these issues, trying to force yourself to be strong might cause your mind to overreact and turn in on itself. Instead, work with it. If you need to step away for a bit and find personal solace, do it. If you feel the need to mindlessly scroll through social media just to calm the nerves? Sure, it’s an option.

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It’s important to establish a safety net to catch yourself when you are let down or hampered by your will power not being strong enough. Maybe you can message an individual a wordy explanation as to what is happening in your head. You may be showcasing that you are not mentally strong and leaving yourself vulnerable, but if you have already accepted that than your friends will as well. They will work with you without judgement and you shouldn’t have to worry about what they think.

Figuring out how to portray your own mind might sound difficult, but in reality, forcing yourself to live your life as a character is rather tough as well. It’s cold and vitriolic and you will find yourself alienated from the true you, which is worse than having to accept the way your mind is, so it’s safer to collect your presence and share it with the world.

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Last fall, I decided to stop this macho performance I had been putting on display and instead really center myself around my emotional out-pour and start accepting my mind for what it was. I was there, in the mental ditch, after pretending to be strong for so long. It’s like when you are on a long drive and people recommend you to pull over and find a rest area for a bit if you need to. There’s no need to put yourself in a more dangerous arena by attempting to drive when you are weak.

There was a third bit to that lyric from earlier that I saved because I thought it would help wrap my ideas into a nice bow to end this article. “Nothing manmade remains made long.” Think about it, the world around us is not as permanent as we think. Things rot, structure-wise, decaying over the years, so within this world it’s more important if you are out there finding your value and accepting yourself for what you are.

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Make your mark on the world, and maybe a mentally strong mind will not be an issue anymore. I know my head well enough to have forgotten that and instead focus on pursuing what my heart and mind are passionate about.

Featured photo credit: greyerbaby via cdn.morguefile.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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