Perseverance: How to outlast mental obstacles with internal argument

In pursuit of our goals, we’re plagued by two central struggles: making the leap into the jungle and staying there.

The jungle is unfamiliar, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s challenging, but we grow most in the jungle. Our first task is to convince ourselves to make the leap into the jungle from the comfort of the zoo. After we make the leap, our task becomes convincing ourselves to stay in the jungle.

The mental obstacle that is presented to us while attempting to stay in the jungle is an obstacle defined by a relentless internal debate.

Should I keep challenging myself in the jungle, or should I retreat back to my comfy, steel-barred cage? Should I run another mile, or should I head back home?

cage 2

When we’re in the jungle, we doubt ourselves and we question our abilities, searching for any reason to quit. This doubt and need for assurance builds the foundation of the mental debate between our ears.

The questions and doubts rarely stop, and if they do it’s only a momentary cease-fire.

Success in overcoming this type of mental obstacle is a function of the argument’s duration and diversion.

So long as you can outlast the obstacle by making a captivating argument, you will stay in the jungle. An implication of this is that you must be effective at arguing both sides of the argument—even the ones which appeal to your calculated, rational thoughts more than your irrational, impulsive ones.

Making the leap into the jungle only requires that you win the initial argument, whereas staying in the jungle requires that you make sure the argument goes on for as long as possible.

If you’re going to be mentally tough, you better be good at arguing. But of course, you must be able to engage both sides of the argument, even the ones you don’t like. The important part of the internal argument is that you can keep the debate heated and interesting long enough for you to cross the finish line.