Mental toughness is obtained through self-searching honesty, which identifies and admits frankly the deficiencies within.
A tough and resilient personality has many aspects and traits, and Rudyard Kipling has dealt with these in his poem “IF”.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
Kipling talks of “keeping the head high when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”. This verily is also equanimity, conceived as samatvam by Bhagwad Gita (2, 48), which also exhorts on the need to be balanced in honour and ridicule (6,7) as also in “heat and cold”.
Also, absence of falsehood and hatred is also an indicative of inner strength. Kipling advises on being “lied about, or on being hated, do not give up”.
“But make allowance for their doubting too”, and “And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise” – yes that is why I sometimes try and unlearn to be “too good” as people tell me, but some how, I come back to the original track.
The Bible also extols forgiveness and in fact doing a good turn to those who are inimical or unfair.
Toughness within is also revealed in the person’s impartiality and broadness in outlook –
The ancient Sanskrit concept of Vasudev Kutumbkam has been brought out beautifully by Kipling’s
“can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch”
The Bhagwad Gita also points to the need of all to be treated alike irrespective of caste, creed, colour, sex – the so called high or low caste, or even an outcaste, a cow or a dog, a lover or a foe, strangers, neutrals, foreigners, or relatives.
Inner and mental toughness however attain fulfillment only by also being effective, efficient, hardworking, and creative – the lines
“fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”. This verily also is persistence- Rudyard Kipling’s inspiration to “hold on”, when there is nothing in you except the will which says to you:”Hold On”!
If we want to apply these in practice, the approach calls for and eager want and dwelling on the needed virtues, internalizing these and evolving for oneself and fellow people a positive self image, which would be in harmony with such virtues. Contrary and ill-generating mental feelings would drop off by and by, revealing to the strength within – so real, and intoxicating!
Go ahead and tap this dormant and untapped strength of yours!