Mental Toughness Tip: Fake it Then Embrace it!

Here is a mental toughness tip to help you endure through effort, pain, and fatigue. I call it, "fake it then embrace it."

Here is an example to explain what this means. Imagine you're running a marathon. As you're running, your sense of effort, pain, and fatigue will gradually increase. At some point, your sense of discomfort will outweigh your motivation to endure, and this will cause you to slow down or quit. In order to minimize your sense of discomfort and maximize your motivation, and therefore improve your performance, you can use the "fake it then embrace it" strategy.

By faking it, I mean act as if you're more comfortable than you really are. By thinking positive and distracting yourself from discomfort, you can go longer without feeling overwhelmed with discomfort. in other words, the less you acknowledge the discomfort you're in, the less affected you'll be by it. It won't occupy as much space in your consciousness, therefore it won't deplete your willpower and motivation as quickly. With more willpower and motivation left in your tank, you can go harder and longer. This is why it can be helpful to repeat to yourself positive affirmations such as "I'm feeling good!" or "This is fun!" early on in a race or a game. Even if you are feeling a moderate amount of discomfort, it helps a lot to think positive and act as if you're comfortable. And sometimes, you don't even have to fake it. You may actually be feeling really good even while giving your best effort. If this is the case, then you need to take advantage of this and ride it out as long as you can.

It also helps a lot to deepen your concentration on the task at hand so you can get lost in the zone. Overall, concentration and positive self-talk are the two main ways to prevent negative thoughts from entering your mind and weakening you in games.

However, there comes a point where you can no longer fake it and distract yourself from discomfort. Eventually, your level of discomfort can get to a point where it's impossible to ignore. In these cases, it doesn't help to pretend that you're not in pain. You won't be able to trick your mind. This will only make you want to slow down or give up sooner. At this point, it's much better to embrace the discomfort and push through it as best as you can using pure grit and willpower!  You need to put on your "ugly face" and accept that it won't be easy. Use whatever motivational self-talk is needed to push through. You may even need to get angry and say to yourself things such as:
You need to do whatever it takes to squeeze out your last drops of effort. 

The key is to find the right time to switch from faking it to embracing it. The goal is to make it feel as easy as possible for as long as possible, to conserve as much of your willpower as you can. Then once you need to embrace the discomfort, you have to use absolutely all of your willpower and leave nothing in the tank. If you do this, you'll maximize your mental toughness and endurance, and therefore, you'll maximize your performance.

Start practicing this "fake it then embrace it" mental strategy now. With practice, you'll get better at it and your mental toughness will improve!