Articles

This is how special operators 'embrace the suck'

For most people, joining the special operations community is just a dream — a fantasy born of countless hours playing video games and watching cool-guy action movies.


To a much smaller group, though, joining the military's most elite is not boyhood fantasy — it is destiny. It is for those few that this article posted. And since we are not simply dreamers, I thought I'd begin with a sobering question: What makes you think that you will succeed while so many others fail?

Be in great physical shape, callous your body and train your mind to not dwell on the pain that's in store. (US military photo)

Really, think about it for a moment before you simply answer with "because I will never quit." I've heard this same line parroted by some of the most impressive physical studs, to only see them one-by-one drop out. What makes you any different?

It all comes down to mindset.

Sure, be in incredible shape. Yes, be highly competent and motivated. But what it all boils down to — what proves to be the great separator of men — is what is between your ears.

If you are truly committed to joining special operations then you need to understand that preparing your mind for what is coming is even more important than preparing your body. When the pain starts and your body begins to fail you (no matter how fit you are you will reach this point many times over), your dedication, character, work ethic, and toughness will be put to the ultimate test.

I cannot prepare you for this, but what I can do is pull back the veil to give you some practical advice and mental "cheats" to master your pain and misery. Practice the following tips and store them away for the gut-checks that await you.

Imagine your girlfriend hiding her shame at your failure, then keep going. (US military photo)

Good luck to you. Train Hard. Train smart.

Tip #1: Keep your mind busy and distracted so it cannot dwell on the pain.

To focus on the pain is to certainly amplify it. Force yourself to think about something else. Think about fun memories, old flames, funny movies, future planning, pray, sing songs in your head – do anything except be alone with the pain.

Tip #2: Focus on your goal and draw strength from your commitment.

Remember that quitting is not an option. See yourself succeeding through the temporary anguish and draw strength from those that fall beside you.

If this doesn't work, flip it and imagine your dream slipping away. Ponder the cost of failure. Imagine failing your friends and family who have bragged about you. Imagine having to explain for the rest of your life how you just couldn't hang on a little longer.

Imagine your girlfriend hiding her shame at your failure.

Tip #3: Revel in the pain.

Convince yourself that the pain feels good or that the whole thing is just a hilarious game. Get furious at the pain if you like. Rebuke your body for being weak and your mind for trying to buckle for something so small as shaky arms from doing pushups. Also, if you can laugh at your misery, it is a great sign that you may survive it (just don't let the instructors see you laugh or they will take it as a personal challenge to dole out more misery).

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