Mentally Tough

When I was young and refusing to pay attention to life’s lessons, I walked around sad and depressed over the things I could not change.  I remember Momma’s voice as she would quietly say to me, “Boy, you gotta be strong to get through a problem.” I would ponder through her words of wisdom and then slowly return to what I knew best and that was to feel sad and depressed over something I could not control.

It wasn’t long after I started to have these feelings that a singer named Jerry Butler had a hit song “Only the Strong Survive.”  That song touched the core of my soul as I spent many hours listening to the lyrics.  The more I sang, the stronger I felt inside dealing with my personal challenges.

I learned a lot listening to my mother’s folk wisdom and carrying Jerry Butler’s tune in my head. Both taught me about mental toughness and how to get through troubled times.  The phrase “mental toughness” I thought was reserved for the military’s special forces.  I was wrong.  Mental toughness can be used in every day personal challenges such as the loss of a loved one, anger management, diets, relationships and business.

Mental toughness does not mean you are a superhuman.  It simply points to the fact that you have chosen to stick to a plan of action no matter how tough the road gets.  You do not allow self-defeating thoughts to permeate your mind.  Instead, you control distracting thought and stay strong.  You trust in yourself you have made the right decision under pressure and are prepared to move ahead.  Giving up is not an option.

By controlling negative thoughts, you deal with the pressure at hand.  You overcome the opposition suddenly or one step at a time.  If failure is upon you, it makes you try harder to succeed.  You hold on even when you want to let go and quit.  Finishing is more important than giving up. Finally, you complete your task. This is what we do when times get tough.

What do you do when times get tough? How do you move ahead? What strategy do you use when unexpected storms challenge you?  Tell me – how are you strong?

Share your story here in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Posted in Coaching.


Founder and CEO of The JAFA Group, James A. Farmer, PhD has worked in human relations, counseling and coaching for over 35 years. His vast experience, leadership, passion and success all contribute to a particularly strong understanding of workplace issues and their creative resolutions.
Dr. Farmer is a widely respected author and lecturer. He has written or co-written four books as well as numerous articles which have appeared in esteemed journals. His textbooks – Positive Influences and High Risk Teenagers were required reading in the curriculum at various major universities.
Dr. Farmer also maintains a strong presence in the business world. His expertise in areas such as motivational psychology, human relations, communications, and interpersonal skill development has made him a popular and sought-after consultant for many companies. Exxon, Dow Chemical, Texas Instruments, Blackmarr Associates and various human service agencies are among his impressive list of engagements.
He received his BA in social work and speech in 1974 and his MA in counseling from the University of Northern Iowa in 1976. Dr. Farmer subsequently received his MSW from the University of Iowa in 1978 and went on to attain his PhD from The Ohio State University in 1986. His academic appointments include the University of Northern Iowa, The Ohio State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Farmer is also a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor and a Barksdale self-esteem analyst. As well, he is certified in dispute resolution and is a Licensed Advanced Clinical Practitioner and a Board approved supervisor in the state of Texas.
Dr. Farmer began learning to self-coach himself in the 4th grade in order to overcome early childhood trials and tribulations. He eventually enrolled in a life coaching course and was dismayed to find that many simple topics were made complicated and needlessly complex in a way that prohibited effective learning. He’s been taking notes ever since, and a lifetime later continues to adapt, learn, grow and teach.
The many students of Dr. Farmer are perhaps the greatest testament of his work. Thousands and thousands of people have come to him, and their success stories are endless – students have gone on to earn PhDs, management positions, high level government jobs and more. He’s especially proud of the foster children whom he’s counseled as a part of his therapy business.
Dr. Farmer’s passion continues to evolve in the field of developmental coaching – helping people to succeed in life, guiding them to help themselves, and learn authentic self-esteem.
He lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, yet enjoys traveling extensively to promote his work.

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