Cognitive Grit: Why Resilience is More About Thinking than Doing and How to Develop It

Out of the various mental health related issues I’ve dealt with, rejection sensitivity has to be the most difficult. We’re pattern seekers who struggle with nuance. Therefore, even though we’re prone to myopic thinking, we also tend to focus on the broad strokes at the expense of their details and, thus, our sanity. Only focusing on the bigger picture isn’t a good thing. It’s said that it takes grit to overcome persistent failure, but what the hell is that and how does one get it?

When you begin with the belief that you’re a worthless loser, your pattern seeking brain will easily convince you that the slew of rejections are the natural products of your ineptitude. Our brains not only seek patterns but try to fit them in with what they already believe. So, a bunch of failures naturally reinforce your negative thoughts. Personally, I tend to get down on myself after a prolonged period of time on dating apps and after several rejections from potential podcast guests. It’s difficult to not take it personally when life is constantly telling you how awful you are. Initially, all I see is the cause and effect, my attempt and its outcome. But, there’s so much more to it, and that complexity, seeing it for what it is, is grit.

Unfortunately for our simplistic minds, decisions are more complicated than our conceptions of them. And, often, it takes another person helping you explore an event to realize how little it had to do with you. Grit can either be individual or collective; you don’t need to do it all on your own. When I’m angry or upset, sometimes just stating my beliefs out loud to another helps me see their absurdity, but I frequently need someone else to help me better understand the source of some bad outcome.

Before I was willing to open up, like most immature people, I lashed out at those who rejected me, or tried to cajole them into liking me. None of it worked because I wasn’t the reason I failed. And there was nothing to fix. In developing grit, we think of behaviors, getting back up and trying again. But, in reality, grit is your mindset; it’s telling yourself that you likely weren’t to blame and believing it.

Developing grit takes introspection and patience, exploring countless rejections and asking others for feedback. If I had allowed myself to be vulnerable when I was much younger, I probably would have matured earlier. Then again, I really believed I was worthless, so there wouldn’t have been a point to exploring much further, at least in my mind. Depression becomes suicidal when we keep our thoughts to ourselves and, in my opinion, there are few things worse than dying for awful beliefs. Grit isn’t innate, although more natural for some. However, for those of us who’ve spent years cultivating it, there’s no sweeter win.

1 Comment

  1. Like many of your articles, this one is irritatingly abbreviated. I want 20 pages and instead I just get the introduction. Occasionally I wind up at your website again and read a few articles, and it’s like walking through Costco when you’re hungry; samples of everything, but never enough volume to satisfy. I just read 4 more articles today, all unsatisfyingly short teasers. I’ll close the website now and forget about it until I end up following a link or something next year, get sucked in by your way cool picture, read a few more introductory paragraphs that would be the start of something great but aren’t, and leave disheartened again.

    I have a friend who’s really short. I mean, she’s so short that every person who meets her comments on how short she is. She’s officially 3/4″ taller than “little people” designation. If the worst thing that people can say about you is that there isn’t more of you, that’s not really an insult.

    Liked by 1 person

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