How to Convince Yourself to Keep Going When it Feels Impossible
It’s my senior year of high school and I’m in the middle of playing my best round of competitive golf. An average player at best, I was having a really good day on the course. Hole after hole, as I continued to play well, my excitement grew.
“Today could be the day I shoot my best round!”
As a mental game, I knew I had to keep those thoughts in check. I didn’t want my excitement to deter my focus. As I approached the seventh hole of the match, my coach came over to check in. After excitedly sharing that I was playing my best round, he said “keep it up! If you do, we’ll cancel Friday’s practice.”
The next hole was a disaster. A few bad shots and my confidence faltered. By the end of the hole, I was brimming with tears. I had lost my focus and let the team down in the process. I was devastated.
As I prepared for the second-to-last hole, my coach once again appeared. The struggle was evident. As my voice quivered, I explained the last hole had ruined my round.
“We were never going to have practice tomorrow. Don’t sweat it. Take a deep breathe and finish strong.”
In that moment, I realized I had a decision to make. Was I going to let one bad hole ruin my entire game?
Using Mental Strength to Keep Going When It Feels Too Hard
In life, we frequently encounter these types of situations. When the going gets tough, I’ve learned to use mental strength to pull me through.
The mind is a powerful tool. It can help us, or hurt us; propel us forward, or hold us back. Our mind can be used to our advantage or disadvantage – it’s a choice we have the ability to make.
What we tell ourselves repetitively, we eventually believe as truth.
When thoughts convince us we can’t, we stop trying.
When thoughts make us believe we aren’t good enough, we accept it as fact.
When thoughts reflect negativity, we find we don’t even enjoy our own company.
But the reverse is also true.
When thoughts convince us we can, we do.
When thoughts tell us we are good enough, we aim higher.
When thoughts reflect positivity, we find others happy to be in our presence.
We don’t always have the ability to control our circumstances, but we do have the ability to control our mind and in turn, the power it holds over us.
Recognizing the Ebb and Flow of Our Minds
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right; whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.Philippians 4:8
Mental strength ebbs and flows. The battle against the mind is not easily won, but when we shift our perspective, we often find the strength to keep going when it matters most.
A Realization that it’s Possible to Do Hard Things
For over a year, I strapped into two leg braces which took up approximately 4.5 hours of my day. By month eleven, I was over it. I dreaded those braces, but I also knew I had to keep going. I started to repeat “you can do hard things” to myself as I strapped in.
I still skipped my braces on occasion, but more often than not, I was able to use my mind to convince myself to do the hard thing. Making the difficult choice led to a more favorable end result in the form of increased mobility.
Making the Decision to Continue the Climb
One year into chemotherapy, I was presented with an option for a break – one, if taken, could lead to a setback. Before this option was presented, I was pressing along just fine – no thoughts of weariness or fatigue. I was beating my tumor and up for the fight.
As soon as an optional break was presented, I quickly convinced myself that I was weary and needed the break. I was on the verge of giving up all the progress I had made over the course of a year. When I finally realized this would create a larger setback, I made the decision to push on and continue the climb.
In my own personal experience, I’ve discovered that dwelling on difficult circumstances only leads to more frustration. Hard days grow harder. Circumstances begin to seem more dire. Summoning the strength to battle your mind is no easy task, but one that ultimately serves you well.
Additional Tried and True Strategies to Keep Up the Fight
On the days the mind seems to win, these tried and true strategies have also helped me to keep going:
+ Read the Bible
+ Meditate on or memorize scripture
+ Talk to a trusted friend
+ Read encouragement from those who have undergone similar circumstances
Never Give Up
As you might expect, I didn’t let that one bad hole stand in my way. With two holes left in the match, I was determined to get my head back into the game. I kept things simple: I centered my focus on my next immediate shot; then the next; then the next.
Suddenly, my ball dropped into the cup on the ninth hole. The round was complete and even amidst a setback, I had managed to play by best round of competitive golf.
During that match, I learned an important lesson about the power of the mind I will never forgot. In the midst of some of my most challenging days, the lesson has continued to serve me well.
When it feels impossible to keep going, try summoning all the mental strength you can muster to convince yourself you can. There will still be days you can’t. On those days, never forget that it’s okay to have a bad day. If God grants us new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), we can grant ourselves mercy too.