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How to stop worrying and increase your mental toughness

Worry can be defined as focusing on the things we have no control over.

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In today’s stressful and fast-paced environment there is not a single person that doesn’t worry about something. Learn how to overcome worrying by building your mental toughness.

What happens when we worry

Worry is paralyzing. It’s an insidious and treacherous malady. We’ve discovered through the field of cognitive neuroscience and fMRI brain mapping and imaging that when a person is in fear or anxiety or even worry (which is just baby fear), that half of the brain shuts down. The creative problem-solving half of your brain goes completely dark. No electrochemical pathways lighting up, no neural net traffic, no genius creative problem-solving ideas or thoughts generated. All you are left with is fight/flight or freeze. The part of your brain you need to get out of whatever problem you are facing is SHUT DOWN.

Worry can be defined as focusing on the things we have no control over. Focus is possibly the single most important factor in achieving Peak Performance, and it can only be attained through Mental Toughness. Wasting energy, physical, mental or emotional, on anything outside the scope of our control, is one the biggest issues clients need help to overcome. It’s a self-perpetuating downward spiraling cycle, and it takes an enormous effort to shut off, once it starts.

Focus and prepare

As a trainer, for high-threat diplomatic security contractors and agents, teaching students that focusing on what you can control is paramount. This is the only way to mitigate and manage the risks the protective team takes, not to mention the safety of the principal. Do everything you can do, double and triple check it, and then do the mission. Is every mission a success? Nope, but if the team has focused their efforts on everything that they can control, then they can sleep well, knowing there was nothing left undone.

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Spend your time, energy, and resources on those things in life you can control. One of my favorite quotes is from Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I like to take it a step farther, chance favors the prepared, and being prepared means focusing on the things you can control, not worrying about the stuff you can’t. The rest is up to “Chance”, which favors those who took the time to prepare, not worry.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Andrew D. Wittman, PhD, is a United States Marine Corps infantry combat veteran, a former Police Officer and Federal Agent. As a Special Agent for the U.S. Capitol Police, Wittman led the security detail for Nancy Pelosi and has personally protected Hillary Clinton, Tom Delay, Trent Lott, King Abdullah of Jordan, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Sir Elton John, as well as Fortune 20 CEOs. As a security contractor for the State Department, he taught high-threat diplomatic security to former Navy SEALS, Marines, Rangers, and Special Forces. Wittman is founder of the Mental Toughness Training Center, a leadership consultancy specializing in peak performance, team dynamics, resolving conflict in the workplace and is the author of the new book, “Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You” (2016). He holds a Ph.D. in Theological Studies, is a guest lecturer at Clemson University and co-hosts the radio call-in show “Get Warrior Tough”.

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