The essence of psychological toughness is flexibility. When we encounter adversities, challenges, stressors, and other blocks to our personal goals we tend to think in a self-defeating way. We tend to think “I wish this block, this adversity did not exist for me and therefore it should not, ought not, exist for me. I cannot stand the existence of this reality.” This is an example of a non sequitur. It also is an example of rigidity. When external reality does not yield you will tend to feel depressed, angry, despairing, and anxious due to your thinking, your philosophy. These feelings do not help you remain tough and with them you will tend to avoid, procrastinate, whine and pout about the reality you are encountering. To demonstrate psychological toughness you would need to think differently about the adversity. You could think “I really hate the block, the adversity I am now facing but sadly it exists and all the conditions are in place for it to now exist. I may feel uncomfortable in response to this reality but I can stand these feelings, survive despite this reality, and continuing living with some degree of pleasure. What can I do to change these conditions so this block is removed or eliminated and I will thereby restore greater comfort to my life and have greater pleasure still?” This realistic and flexible thinking is the foundation for psychological toughness. You are at least for the time being accepting that the adversity exists as it “should exist” because it does exist. You are acknowledging that you strongly dislike the existing reality and you also acknowledge a desire to change that reality. You feel healthy feelings of annoyance, regret, sorrow, displeasure, and disappointment all of which will propel you to do what you can do to change the reality you very much dislike. You demonstrate psychological toughness and do not disturb yourself about the negative reality and do what is in your long term best interest to change that reality if it can be changed. What could be a better way of demonstrating psychological toughness in the face of negative external events than displaying such a philosophy and sticking to it when reality does not yield to your initial efforts to change it?
Will fallible humans find it easy to be psychologically tough through flexibility? Unfortunately, humans find it rather difficult to be tough in this sort of way. We readily display rigidity in our thinking and behavioral reactions. The solution lies in seeing that toughness can be developed and that it has many advantages. Then commit yourself to hold onto what are your values and your preferences. However, push yourself to remain flexible and see that reality does not have to be as you deem it to be and therefore to shape events to your liking you will have to first work on you, your emotions. By having the healthy negative emotions of displeasure, sorrow, regret, and annoyance you will be capable of looking for ways to shape reality. These negative feelings will not overwhelm you and derail your efforts to pursue your goals and values. You will also persist in those efforts so long as you hold onto your rational mindset that reality never has to be as you want it to be and you can strive to change external conditions but it may take consider time and effort. Too damn bad!