A brain punching a punching bag with boxing gloves, mental health

Working on Mental Toughness

Last updated: November 2022

I wrote an article a while back, “Staying Mentally Healthy.” In that article, I attributed a lot of my mental toughness to my circumstances. Most importantly growing up in a two-parent stable home.  Unfortunately, I know we are not all that fortunate. One thing that holds true is that mental health is an ongoing process.

I'm a sports fan

Sports has been a big part of my life, especially baseball and football.  My brother Dan and I spent a lot of time with our Dad watching sports and going to games as younger kids. Obviously, we always appreciate the superstars when it comes to sports.

How do the superstars get great?

Let’s take a moment to talk about these all-time greats. When I think of athletes who transcend sports it’s because they have excelled in their respective sport and are in the conversation of being the best ever. The question we don’t ask is how do they get there?  We see the results on the respective court or field they play on. What we don’t see is the hours of practice, hard work that is done behind the scenes.

Michael Jordan always comes to mind. I grew up watching the NBA. Michael Jordan and The Chicago Bulls were the most exciting team to watch. As a kid I never appreciated the hard work that Michael Jordan put in to become the best NBA player of his generation. All teams practice together however when someone like Jordan has the drive to be great he took practicing to another level. He had a full gym and basketball court in his house. Players would come to his house before and after team practices to perfect their basketball skills even further.

How do you stay positive?

It's the attitude

So what’s my point?  Obviously the majority of us are never going to be able to play sports let alone on a professional level. While that is true we can learn from the all time greats. The take away is that we need to do the work in order to be mentally tough. It just doesn’t happen.  I’ve always tried my best to live life with a positive attitude and mindset. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that has gotten me to that place.

“You are such an inspiration” and “How do you stay so positive.”  Those “compliments” we sometimes hear as disabled people can be annoying but I try to take the compliment for what it is. To me it means the hard work that I put in to keep myself mentally tough is paying off.

Everyone has their tough days

Remember everyone has their tough days. It’s human nature to feel defeated sometimes. But just because we have a physical disability like SMA doesn’t mean we can’t be happy and productive.

Find your mental workout. Keep yourself motivated and focused. Create a schedule. If you’re not working or going to school, get a hobby or volunteer your time in some way. Do the work, the behind the scenes stuff so that you can be mentally tough.

Don’t let this spinal muscular atrophy diagnosis defeat your mental health. Never give up!

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