Persisting and Overcoming Challenges

March 22, 2021

Louis Tay

I finished listening to the audiobook autobiography of David Goggins's incredible life story.

Experiencing abuse, racism, and learning challenges as a child, David Goggins rose out of that to push himself beyond all known limits. At the lowest point in his life, he worked to lose 100 pounds in 3 months to join the Navy SEALs. Because of injuries during SEAL training, he restarted the course multiple times – and completed 3 Hell Weeks.

After graduating from the Navy SEALS, he went on to become an Army Ranger. And, somehow, while serving in the military, he managed to complete multiple ultramarathons. What's more, doing all of that without realizing he had a hole in his heart!

His life story is inspirational and reveals a life that has overcome tremendous challenges. But it also begs the question – how did he do it? How did he persist amid difficulties? How did he not throw in the proverbial towel?

One of the tips David Goggin’s shared in his book is to look back into our lives for the small victories – and cling on to them during a current challenge. The idea is that these moments of growth, positivity, and achievement can help us persevere and overcome our current difficulties.

This tip aligns with research showing that drawing on past mastery and achievement experiences can increase our sense of self-efficacy and overcome difficulties. Fascinatingly, this also applies to interpersonal challenges: looking back on past positive interpersonal experiences can also serve as a resource to help us overcome current interpersonal challenges.

Are you facing a challenge right now?

If so, I encourage you to look back into your past experiences and find those moments of strength to pull you through your current situation. Being buoyed by those successes may just be what you need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Be well,

Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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