When faced with a challenge that seems insurmountable, realistically assess the situation, control what you can — even if it’s just your own breathing — acknowledge your emotions and focus on achieving an average level of performance to boost confidence, writes Eric Barker. “When you know what problems you need to solve and what you can realistically expect, you can better prepare, shift your strategy or ask for help,” Barker writes.



you’re dropped off in the middle of a forest with nothing but the clothes on your back. You’re going to need to live off the land to survive. (Hope you paid attention during all those Bear Grylls episodes.

Oh, and you’re being hunted. Dangerous people are trying to capture you. You know: your average Sunday.

And even if you do manage to survive this, the next phase is even worse. You’re caught, blindfolded, and locked in a cell. Music blasts 24-7 to disorient you. You’re deprived of sleep. Repeatedly interrogated. And they tell you all this stress can end if you just give up and tell them what you know…

No, this isn’t “real.” It’s what soldiers going through the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training program deal with. It simulates what you might deal with when caught behind enemy lines.

So how would you do in this scenario? Yeah, you’d freak out and pee-pee yourself. (If you listen closely, you can hear me calling for my mom.) You and I aren’t alone; the vast majority of soldiers fail. 96% experienced “dissociative symptoms” – they were so stressed their minds fled reality.

The military realized this program was fine at vetting for the elite, but was horrible at teaching your average soldier anything. And so the military changed their protocols. They consulted researchers about mental strength and resilience. And they learned that many of our ideas about toughness were wrong…