Improving Your Mental Toughness, Part 2 – Expect Adversity


Just as Benjamin Franklin said, “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, perhaps he should have added adversity, because it’s not a matter of if, but when.

“You’re going to be down by 20 points, you’re going to be outside the top 10, you’re going to get injured, you’re going to the call in the middle of the night, you’re going to get that project thrown in your lap when you had a weekend planned with your family, you’re going to … get stuck in traffic, they’re going to spill coffee on you, a stranger is going to yell at you, they’re going to [criticise] you on social media. All of those things are going to happen … [We are not] immune to any of this. It is a part of being a human being.” (Bergeron, 2020, 00:25:32)

Being caught off guard puts us in a vulnerable position. If we weren’t expecting any of this to happen, we certainly wouldn’t have a plan to combat it. However, since we understand it’s only a matter of time before adversity strikes, we can prepare ourselves for that eventuality.

“We need to be extreme realists. Embrace the harsh realities that it means to be a human being. This is not a negative thing at all, it’s actually a very positive thing because what happens is, as you start to realise these things, everything you’re experiencing becomes that much happier.” (Bergeron, 2020, 00:26:18)

The Happiness Hack

If we want to be assured of endless happiness, the easiest way is to never have any expectations.

When we set an expectation, there are 3 possible outcomes – either we are disappointed if our expectation isn’t met; or we are satisfied if our expectation is met; or we are happy if our expectation is exceeded. Very rarely are our expectations exceeded, therefore, when we have expectations, we are more likely to feel disappointed or satisfied most of the time.

When we have no expectations, there are only 2 possible outcomes – either we remain neutral, or we feel happy.

For example, imagine we were on an international flight, and prior to the flight they announce that there will be free, unlimited wi-fi for the duration of the flight for all passengers. That is now our expectation. However, an hour into the flight the wi-fi connection drops and cannot be restored. Our expectation has not been met, and now we’re disappointed. Now, let’s flip that example. Imagine the same scenario, but there was no mention of any free wi-fi prior to the flight. After take-off, they announce that all passengers will receive free, unlimited wi-fi for the duration of the flight. Our expectation has been exceeded, and now we’re happy. Managing our expectations is crucial.

How to overcome adversity?

Write down everything that could go wrong.

Imagine a football coach was preparing for an upcoming fixture. They could write down things such as the team not getting any rest the night before, the team bus arriving late, traffic on the way to the stadium, not being able to warm up before the match, a player getting injured before the match, going down 3 goals inside the first 10 minutes, the weather being the opposite of what it should be for that time of season. Now, if any of those things actually happened, they wouldn’t be thrown off their game. They can create contingency plans for the things within their control and let go of the things that are beyond their control, such as the weather. By compiling that list, they eliminate any potential surprises.

Adversity will strike; therefore, we must expect it, and we must expect to overcome it.

Thank you for reading this post

We hope that you found this valuable. We hope that you take this information on board and put it to use. Next week, in part 3, we will be diving deeper into “Set your sights”.

Reference list:

The 6 Steps to Improving Your Mental Toughness (2020) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 15 May 2020]

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