“It seems like you are scanning me.”
She was right. I was scanning her, though I didn’t realize it was that obvious. In my mind, I was looking through her and calculating things in the back of my head. Should I stay or should I go?
“I’m going to go now. I don’t think we should hang out anymore.”
Her eyes popped up with confusion, probably because no one has ever told her that in her life. You could tell she was nervous, despite being silent and frozen for almost 30 seconds afterwards. This was to be expected, which is why I calmly took a sip of my drink and relaxed back in my chair.
Soon after, I got up, said goodbye, and left without any regrets.
HARD CHOICE IS OFTEN THE RIGHT CHOICE
Back in 2016, I wrote an article in which I slammed a friend of mine for using the phrase “Mind of Steel” to get himself motivated.
The reason was that forcing yourself to make a hard choice at a time of trouble is not enough. Without an actual strong mindset to back it up, this is only going to work when you’re already feeling motivated. Other times, you’ll shrug it off and say: “Eh, I’ll do it next time”.
Mind of Steel is not just having mental strength.
Mental strength is the way you deal with hard situations in life. Mind of Steel is a mindset that seeks out those hard situations. It’s not just a reaction to something that happens, but a proactive state of mind.
So what does this have to do with anything, let alone my story from the beginning?
Well, over the past few months, I’ve been making a conscious effort to strengthen my own Mind of Steel. This tied in with a redesign of Develop a Mind of Steel, the complete guide to a strong mindset.
I don’t want to just talk the talk but walk the walk as well.
So in an attempt to expand the guide with better and more relevant content, I’ve decided to — once again — put myself and my tactics to the test. I did this by enforcing what I call “Mind of Steel decisions”.
MIND OF STEEL DECISION (MOSD):
A hard decision you know you must make.
MOSD is a decision that is right — and deep down, you know it is right — but you avoid making it because it’s very, very difficult for you.
Here are some examples of such decisions:
- Choosing to cut out toxic friends
- Telling your family some hard news
- Ending a relationship with someone you love
- Not giving into peer pressure
Humans are creatures of habit. The more we do something, the more it becomes a part of our natural mechanism.
So if you avoid making these types of decisions, they will only get increasingly harder and you will be inclined to avoid them in the future as well.
Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson talked about a similar concept of “telling the truth“. The way he described it, telling the truth will always lead to the best possible outcome in the long-run. It may hurt others or yourself temporarily, but it’s going to make you stronger and more determined.
The same way, making hard, but right decisions is going to be uncomfortable for you in the short-term, but it’s going to make you stronger and better in the end.
HOW MAKE MAKE MIND OF STEEL DECISIONS
As you already know, this isn’t easy. You may be enforcing this kind of behavior in some parts of your life and completely avoiding it in others.
My crutch was always being the “nice guy” to people I don’t know that well. So I’d be talking to a stranger asking me for a favor or on a first date with a girl who I don’t really like, but I’d waste a lot of my time and effort to avoid potentially offending them.
This is something I always hated about myself. As strong as my Mind of Steel is in a lot of areas of my life, this was definitely something that needed improvement.
Enter MOSD: No matter how hard or weird or difficult it would be for me, I forced myself to always make the hard decision.
This concept is similar to the micro-avoidance theory I previously talked about. The theory is that avoiding making small, insignificant choices during the day will train your brain to avoid bigger challenges as well.
Mind of Steel decisions add a twist to that: Avoiding making hard, but necessary choices will train your brain to avoid them in the future as well. As a result, you’ll become awkward and scared of similar interactions.
The story from the beginning was from a first date with a girl I’ve met for the first time. We sat down for drinks, talked for a while, but I soon realized that she wasn’t particularly interesting or enjoyable to be around.
I knew I didn’t want to spend any more time with her today and I definitely did not want to see her again. She wasn’t a bad person by any standard, it was just that I personally didn’t enjoy her company.
What I wanted to do was leave and stop wasting my time. In my mind, this would make me the biggest asshole and this girl doesn’t deserve it.
The “old me” would probably spend several hours with her, trying to be the nice guy, ask her questions, then say I had a great time, go home, stress for a few days, then write a long-ass message explaining why I didn’t want to see her again.
The result? Stress, time wasted, and confusion on her part. All just to save myself from growing some balls and being honest.
This time, however, I decided to make a Mind of Steel decision. It’s difficult, it’s going to be awkward, but it’s the right choice. In the long-run, it’s actually a much better alternative.
So I told her the truth. This isn’t working out and I’m going to go.
The result? She had no false hopes, I had no stress, and both of us stopped wasting our time on a lost cause.
To be fair, this wasn’t the first time I’ve forced myself to make a MOSD. That’s why I was able to be relaxed and calm. The first time I forced myself to make a MOSD in a similar situation, it was a completely different story.
The more you stop enforce making these decisions, the easier they will become. Not only that, the stronger you will feel as a result.
Think of it like learning martial arts. Most people who learn a fighting skill don’t plan on instigating fights, but if the situation comes, they are actually more likely to avoid getting into the fight. Why?
Because they know they can beat their opponent if they need to. They’ve been in similar situations before and have been trained properly. As a result, they act with more confidence because they’ve been through this before. If their opponent notices this, they’re likely to back down.
Every change starts with a single hard decision. There’s a quote from the show Westworld that poses — what is a person but a collection of choices? In the same sense…
What is a Mind of Steel but a collection of Mind of Steel choices?