Mental Toughness For Modern Life
Have you ever wondered how would survive in a hostage situation?
Being captured and held as a hostage by terrorists? What would
give you the will to survive and stay alive?
Make a mental list of memories, loved ones, beliefs, techniques
that would keep you alive if taken hostage or a prisoner of
war. In today's uncertain world there is a reasonable chance
that someone we know will be one or two degrees removed from
a hostage, a bomb blast victim or a prisoner of war (POW).
My own grandfather was a Maori prisoner of war during World
War 2. Taken prisoner by the Germans during the Crete campaign,
he had to endure the harsh conditions as well as the humiliation
of being taken prisoner. A key lesson I learned from his experiences
and others was the power of the mind to transcend one's physical
situation. A bare cell, little food, psychological and physical
mistreatment. Reducing a human being into an object of no
more significance than a cockroach. He had to look deep within
himself to endure his plight and make some sense of his suffering.
Other examples come to mind.
Major James Nesbeth spent seven years as a prisoner of war
in North Vietnam. During those seven years, he was imprisoned
in a cage that was approximately four and one-half feet high
and five long. During almost the entire time he was imprisoned
he saw no one, talked to no one and experienced no physical
activity. In order to keep his sanity and his mind active,
he used the art of visualization.
Every day in his mind, he would play a game of golf. A full
18-hole game at his favorite green. In his mind, he would
create the trees, the smell of the freshly trimmed grass,
the wind, the songs of the birds. He created different weather
conditions - windy spring days, overcast winter days and sunny
summer mornings. He felt the grip of the club in his hands
as he played his shots in his mind. The set-up, the down-swing
and the follow-through on each shot. Watched the ball arc
down the fairway and land at the exact spot he had selected.
All in his mind.
He did this seven days a week. Four hours a day. Eighteen
holes. Seven years. When Major Nesbeth was finally released,
he found that he had cut 20 strokes off his golfing average
without having touched a golf club in seven years.
Another example is Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest
ranking United States military officer in the "Hanoi Hilton"
prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War.
Tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment
from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any
prisoner's rights, no set release date, and no certainty as
to whether he would even survive to see his family again.
Stockdale had an additional challenge. As the highest ranking
officer, he had to also help his own servicemen survive their
ordeals. He instituted rules that would help people to deal
with torture (no one can resist torture indefinitely, so he
created a step-wise system -- after x minutes, you can say
certain things -- that gave the men milestones to survive
toward). He instituted an elaborate internal communications
system to reduce the sense of isolation that their captors
tried to create, which used a five-by-five matrix of tap codes
for alpha characters. (Tap-tap equals the letter a, tap-pause-tap-tap
equals the letter b, tap-tap-pause-tap equals the letter f,
and so forth, for 25 letters, c doubling for k.) After his
release, Stockdale became the first three-star officer in
the history of the US Navy to wear both aviator wings and
the Congressional Medal of Honor. Like many others, he lived
to tell and inspire others of his POW experiences.
What can we learn from these prisoner of war experiences?
I believe it illustrates the power of our mind to transcend
our current circumstances. We don't need to be a prisoner
of war to learn this. We sometimes imprison ourselves with
our own fears, our own limiting thoughts. Thoughts like:
- I can never be rich!
- I will never get out of this dump!
- My life sucks!
- I blame my mother for my weight problem!
I would say to the above, "toughen up and get a life". Weak
thinking begets weak results. Feel sorry for yourself for
a moment and then get over it. This type of repetitive sorry
thinking would create a loss of hope in a POW and lessen their
chances of survival.
Also we can create our own internal mind ritual that we can
turn into a daily mental discipline. Go inside your own mind
and create your desired outcomes. Live the dream inside your
own mind. Change it daily by adding something new. Make it
fun. Make it short or as long as you like. 5-10 minutes a
I believe these inspiring prisoner of war stories show us
clearly that an enduring faith, an unyielding will to succeed
combined with a daily mental discipline gives us the power
to overcome incredible odds.
Hirini Reedy is a mental toughness expert who helps
people find inner strength. A former military officer, martial
arts founder and NLP mind coach, he has designed short sharp
mind-body fitness workouts for the high achiever. Visit http://www.maori-secrets.com.
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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