How to Build Mental Toughness: The Velvet Rope to the Doorway of Your Mind.

There is too much negativity in your life. Your mind is flooded with it day after day after day through social media, TV, and even that phone in your hand. It’s on the news, it’s on your computer screen. It’s in the traffic you wait in, on the way to work. It’s on the faces of the tired people waiting in line at the grocery store wishing they were somewhere else. It’s time to start deciding who and what you let influence you. It’s time to start silencing the BS and ads, the gimmicks and the gossip. The first step to building mental toughness is to change the way you think and that begins by controlling the things you allow into your awareness. It’s time to hire a bouncer to man the velvet rope to the doorway of your mind.

Who and what influences you? It’s a pretty serious question and a serious problem. It’s also something most of us aren’t thinking about. It’s something that is making a lot of people rich because all they do is think about it. Every moment of every day you are being influenced. You’re being steered and directed towards a goal, a destination. I’m trying to do it right now with this article you’re reading. I’m trying to persuade you to wake up, to think, to see not just look.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a rant against corporations and conspiracy. No this is something simpler. This is a conversation between me and you and hopefully you and yourself. Are you happy? Look at your life, look around you. Is this where you thought you would be? Are you doing what you want? Are you achieving what you want? I ask myself these same questions all the time. I don’t know about you but life has a way of distracting me. I get pulled off course. then before you know it I’m standing around with my friends bitching and moaning, complaining about money, people, traffic, life. I’m human, so are you.

The other day though I was complaining so much that I heard myself. Sounds stupid doesn’t it, but let me ask you, how often do you listen to the things you say? Or more accurately how often do you actually take note of your own words and their impact, are you hearing them? Or have they just become background noise in the narrative of your life. Standing there complaining to my friends about my rotten boss and watching the expressions on their face as a tsunami of cuss words spewed out of my mouth, I was struck by the sudden thought: “SHUT UP!”

You influence people, did you know that? The people around you, in your life influence you. Your actions, words, thoughts, all go out there into the world, out into your circle of friends, your coworkers, your employers and employees. What you do impacts people. It might not be much, must of us aren’t changing lives, we’re just trying to get by and survive, blissfully unaware of the wake we stir up behind us as we sail along in life.

That day as I stood there ranting like a madman to my coworkers and friends. I was struck by the thought, that I was ruining their day. At the very least I was contributing to a bad one. These guys were already neck deep in the suck and all I was doing was rubbing their face in it. I don’t like to be around people that make me feel like crap. I avoid those people that are always complaining, always wallowing in the misery of their lives as they endure yet another catastrophe. I’ll bet you know people like this and I bet when you finally do get home from work after a long day, the last person you think about calling is this person. If they text you, you’d probably ignore it and then feign an excuse the next day. Because ain’t nobody got time for that negative crap!

Let me ask you this, why if we try to avoid these people in our lives do we then run to embrace them on social media, TV, and the internet? Why do we fill our feeds with things, ideas, and people that make us look at our lives and frown. This is not a manifesto about success. What I’m asking is why when we have access to the greatest minds, writings, and accomplishments in human history do so many of us choose garbage? Think about it for a second.

Whose voice are you allowing to whisper in your mind’s ear? Is it someone encouraging? Is it someone saying I believe in you, I think you can do it? Is it someone that says I admire your drive and efforts, I support it. Here’s where it gets tricky though. Are you listening to the people telling you, it’s easy, anyone can do it, it happens overnight? I’ll bet you are. I’ll bet you’re following those people online telling you we are all special unicorns destined for greatness. But are we? If all of us are special, then are any of us special? False positvity is the worst kind of negativity. It’s bullshit and it’s cancer eating you alive from the inside. Lies are still lies no matter how good they make you feel. The truth is success is hard, not a lot of people will succeed. They will not succeed because they will not be willing to put forth the effort required. It’s not luck or destiny.

There is an entire industry set up on the fact that humans will choose bullshit over truth almost every time, if it makes them feel good about life. Let’s be real for a moment most of us don’t have extraordinary lives, we just have lives. We’re just normal people going about our daily routines hoping to avoid getting hassled and harassed by our bosses, debts, and responsibilities. And that is okay. What is not okay is the delusions we will fill our minds with trying to avoid getting hassled. What is screwed up is the stunning amount of fantasies, lies, and outright ridiculous crap we are willing to tolerate and influence us. Our mind is a VIP club but nobody is manning the door. There’s no 300 pound bouncer named Bruno with a tribal tattoo, holding the velvet rope deciding who and what gets inside. Why?

After I shut up that morning, I apologized to my coworkers and friends. I apologized for adding to the negativity of that day and for making a crappy situation even worse, (none of us were being paid what we’d been promised.) I am brutally efficient about eliminating negative people and influences from my life. I am careful about what I read, who I listen to, and who I engage in conversation and association. Because I just don’t have time for bullshit anymore and guess what, neither do you. I’m about to be 41. Men in my family have a history of dying in their 60’s, so statistically I have 20-25 years left to get shit done. Confucius once said, “men have 2 lives, the other begins the moment they realize the first one will end…”

You’re going to die, you understand that don’t you. When it’s all said and done none of us are getting out of this alive and every day our time, our most precious and irreplaceable commodity, is slipping away. If you’re struggling with success right now, regardless of what field it’s in, I’d suggest you begin by looking at your mind, specifically the things you think about. It’s been said that petty people talk about other people, most people talk about things, but great minds focus on ideas and ideals. Which are you doing? Building mental toughness begins with what you think about. What are you thinking about, a movie stars’s love affair, or organizing your life and taking a hard look at what you need to do next to turn it around?

It is time to start giving some serious thought to what you are thinking about and the kinds of things you are allowing to fill your environment. Are these things helping you, building you up, making you stronger? Or are they just distractions from the business of getting on with your life? I guard the velvet rope to the doorway to my mind tenaciously. It’s life and death for me. I am very picky about who I allow in my head. I’ve gotten rid of the TV. I walk away from complainers and malcontents. I don’t engage with them or allow them the space or time to get me off track. I filter my Instagram feed, avoid Twitter, and rarely go on Facebook. I don’t have the TIME for it.

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