Strength - There is all different kinds.

Ingrid Barclay on Tuesday, 20 October 2015.

Long Post Alert – If you are interested in mental strength, making some changes in your life and getting proactive this deeply personal post just might kick-start your new beginning.

Strength. I talk a lot about strength on FIO, and usually I am referring to physical strength. I encourage a certain training attitude that incites trainee’s to lift better, stronger and more confident and this in turn will usually lead to better performance in the gym. Strength comes in many different forms and has many different meanings, but it’s a word that resonates with almost everyone.

Last week I fell apart. I had visited my dad a few days before hand and I have to say, it’s really really hard to see someone so important to you deteriorate right before your eyes. This is a tough gig and I never willingly signed up for it. (For those of you who don’t know, my dad, who is only in his mid-sixties was diagnosed with MND, he has ALS which is the ‘worst’ form of MND). Less than 6 weeks ago my father was driving. Today he struggles to walk and spends most of his time in his new wheelchair.

When my visitor who had been staying with us left on the Monday, I just fell in a heap. A sufferer of depression falling in a heap is often a scenario that is ‘just around the corner’. I am susceptible to just breaking down, and this is what I did on Tuesday. I spent from Tuesday to Friday lunch time virtually in bed and in a nutshell I just wasn’t coping. (I was proud of the fact that I kept some posts coming once daily on FIO….I am only sorry that it wasn’t the most inspirational of weeks with my posts). L

On Friday my mum came out to visit as I had cancelled her training session saying “I wasn’t up to it” so she knew something was wrong. She said a few things that morning, but the main thing that made me somehow go to the shower, get dressed and put some make up on to face the world was “where is that strong, wise, confident girl that does all that writing on strength on her FB page gone? Where is she? Perhaps you should go back and scroll through some of her posts….”!

Physical strength is important but we also make sure to emphasize the importance of mental strength, emotional strength, and strength of character as well, because having one without having the others just isn’t as fulfilling. For me, here today in this blog I am talking about the mental fortitude to deal with a dying father, but for you the reader, it could be about building mental strength to deal with your food issues, or your unwillingness to unpack baggage, or your lack of motivation to exercise/train. Same same…..

Building mental strength is very similar to building physical strength. If you want to become physically stronger, you’d need good habits – like going to the gym. But you’d also need to get rid of bad habits – like eating too much junk food. Training our brains is similar. We need good habits – like thinking positively, but we also need to get rid of bad habits – like shying away from change.

I was unproductive and in my cave for as good as four days. This is not so easy to admit because let’s face it I would much rather think that I am superwoman. I like sharing my strengths, my information, my tips, and although sharing vulnerabilities I can, and I do, they are much harder to make public. So how am I turning this around because I have a few weeks or hopefully a few months left of having to deal with a massive amount of intense and deep-seated emotions?

For me I know that mantra’s are very important, a mantra in accordance to my values. That’s how I am being successful in my bodybuilding, and my powerlifting and my business. I don’t underestimate the power of working on the mind with different exercises on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. So I have come up with this:

“I am resilient enough to endure my dad’s demise in health, and still find joy, happiness, and gratitude on the other side, and I am proud of that.”

For you girls your mantra could be: “I am strong enough to recognize that a comfortable and good 8-year relationship wasn’t amazing, and walk away, because I deserve amazing. I am proud of that.”

Or…..”I am strong enough to get a mental health nutrition coach because I am going to beat my bad relationship with food once and for all and I am proud I finally have the courage”

Or even: “I am going to sign up for a novice powerlifting competition because although I am physically strong enough, I now feel ready to explore putting myself in an unfamiliar environment. I am proud of that”.   MORE POWER TO YOU GIRL!!!!!

Mental strength has three parts: thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Building mental strength involves learning to regulate thoughts so they’re helpful and realistic, understanding how to control emotions so your emotions don’t control you, and discovering how to behave productively despite your circumstances.

I know this: Mentally strong people don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. They don’t give away their power. They don’t shy away from change. Nor do they waste energy on things they can’t control. They don’t fear taking calculated risks. They would never resent other people’s success and they don’t fear time alone.

I hope this post puts some fire in the belly to deal with your “stuff” with a stronger mentality. I’m no stronger than you. And I CAN cope, just as you can. We can still achieve awesome things and we won’t fall apart despite the circumstances. Really you won’t.

If you read this and feel ready to do something or face something head on now feel free to share what it is….I’d love to hear……

Pictured is my dad with Neale Daniher in Warrnambool last week before they headed out on the Daniher Drive to raise money for MND