As common as hearing about mental strength may be, we don’t often hear about it in reference to infidelity. We talk a lot about feelings, healing, forgiveness, and moving on. But where does mental strength come in?
Developing mental toughness is everything when it comes to infidelity. When we get hurt, our brains want to keep us safe from future pain by giving us all the warnings of any real or perceived danger. After experiencing infidelity, it can become difficult to get out of thought loops that play over and over and get you nowhere.
By developing mental strength, you identify what your personal pitfalls are, how to get out of them, how to avoid them, and how to truly move forward with your life.
Listen to this episode to do a check-in with yourself as to how mentally tough you are and locate the areas that can use some more reps. Growing this muscle is what will help you most in truly creating an amazing life post infidelity.
I’m Andrea Giles. And you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 82, Mental Strength.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is that possible? It is and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey, everybody. I hope everybody’s doing well. I hope you enjoyed last
week’s podcast all about developing friendships. I’ve gotten some fun
feedback about that episode. I know for me, it inspired me to try harder
and to reach out more. Before I dive into this week’s episode all about
developing mental strength, I want to share with you some details of
something I’ve been talking about for a while. I’ve mentioned before that I
am launching some groups this year. And I am so excited to tell you that my
official launch date, the date that the doors are open to join my group is
coming right up. It’s April 11th, Monday, April 11th.
So on that day I will be opening the doors for people to come talk with me
and apply to be in this group. I’m capping it out at 20. And this group is
all about making the decision to stay or go, it’s called Know in 90,
K-N-O-W in 90. It’s a 90 day program where you will be making serious
traction. Instead of being stuck, instead of waiting for something to
happen, you’re going to be learning the tools needed, all the things you
need to make the decision and to move forward with it with confidence to
truly move forward.
Now, if you’re listening and you’re wondering if this is for you, because
maybe the decision was made for you or you already have decided, hear me
out on this, are you still feeling stuck? Are you still not quite on board
with the decision even if it’s already been made, either for you or a
decision you made that you’re still spinning out in, that you’re still
feeling not great about, or that you’re still grieving, or any number of
things? I promise you this program is for you too. I promise it will help
you move forward, it will help you light a fire under you to go out and
create the life that you want.
So if you are not on my email list, go get on it. It’s andreagiles.com,
that’ll take you to a link where you’re going to get a freebie sent to you,
and that will subscribe you to all of my emails, okay. And then you can
schedule a one on one call with me, I’m going to have lots of spots open
over two weeks’ time. And I know that there are 20 Amazing people out there
that need to be in this program, and I can’t wait to hear from you.
Okay, let’s talk about mental toughness, okay? I have been thinking a lot
about mental toughness, taking an inventory on my own mental toughness,
seeing where I have holes, seeing where I want to grow. And I’ve been
thinking about you and what infidelity can do to our brains. Infidelity can
make us feel very untough, it can make us feel very weak, we can feel very
unsure, very ungrounded, very confused, very disoriented, right. Maybe you
thought that you’re happy, and so the infidelity came clear out of left
field. Maybe you thought that you’re a good wife. Maybe you thought that he
was really into you. Maybe you knew that you had some issues, maybe some
big issues, but you never thought that he’d do this.
So infidelity can lead to thoughts like, I don’t know anything, I thought I
was pretty, I thought he found me attractive, fill in the blank. It can
feel like everything you ever knew is off the table, starting from scratch.
For many of my clients, their faith is shaken. I remember that. I remember
feeling somewhat betrayed, that I had played by the rules and this wasn’t
part of the plan. Everything can feel really upside down. So where does
mental toughness come in? Let’s start with physical toughness, okay?
How does physical toughness or strength happen? We don’t wake up one day
and say, today I’m strong, look at those muscles. Wouldn’t it be awesome?
Have you ever wanted to lose weight or get strong, and you go for a run for
a couple miles and then you’re disappointed that you don’t have the ripped
abs and the strong legs? You’re like, wait, I ran today, right. Wouldn’t
that be awesome if it was that instant? I exercised three times this week,
shouldn’t I be there yet, right? It can be frustrating that it’s a slow,
steady process at times. Physical strength comes from steady work, right? I
just had a baby, as you know, she’s going to be four months old this week.
These are things that I’m thinking about for me, I want to lose weight but
I also want to get stronger. I turned 45 this year and I feel different
aches and pains that I didn’t use to, some from extra weight, things like
Now, I can’t just eat healthy and get physically strong, it’s not enough. I
can also do portion control, eating the right things, making sure I’m
eating healthy. Those things are really good, right? They’re good. But
they’re not going to make me strong in the sense of strong muscles, right?
They might make some other things stronger, like a stronger gut, stronger
internal responses to things, stronger immune system. But as far as actual
muscles go, there’s only one thing that’s going to help those muscles, it’s
working them, right? It’s working them, it’s repetition, it’s routine, it’s
pushing my muscles, stretching my muscles, okay. There’s not a shortcut.
So how does this relate to infidelity? Sometimes I talk to people,
oftentimes, I should say, who are in such a cycle of pain and fear and
doubt that they keep going round and round in this cycle. Their world has
been turned upside down, okay, it’s been turned upside down. They keep
spinning out and wondering when they are going to feel better. This my
friends is where mental strength or mental toughness comes in. So today,
I’m going to talk to you about what it means to be mentally tough, mentally
strong, and how to develop that and why it matters, okay.
Before I dive into this, I just want to reiterate something, I just feel
the need to say it. I hope that you know, in listening to my podcast, that
I am never ever saying you caused it, you caused him to go out and do this
thing, okay. You will never hear that from me. I believe that infidelity is
a personal choice. It’s a personal choice to defy your own values, your own
personal boundaries, or to not have personal boundaries and find out too
late that you did not have personal boundaries that you upheld, okay. That
is a personal choice. It’s personal choice.
What I think about infidelity is that it is a symptom of bigger issues. In
many cases, it is unresolved issues of the person cheating. It is issues
that they have never dealt with. It could be from something that happened
when they were a child that led them to feel worthless, and so when they
have this person that’s giving them all this attention, it could nurture
this space in them from when they’re little. That has nothing to do with
you, yet you feel the ramifications from it, right? Sometimes it is
unresolved things in the marriage. It is ways that we are showing up for
each other. And even there, no one makes anybody go out and have an affair,
or be unfaithful in any way, or lie, things like that.
So this whole podcast, when I’m talking to you, I am talking to you because
I want you to feel empowered, to feel better, to have what you want, to
have the relationship you want, the life you want. It is not in any
punitive way of, what did you do? What did you do? You will never hear that
from me, okay. I hope that you hear that loud and clear. This podcast is
all about helping you heal and know how amazing you are, and move forward,
whether you stay or go, okay.
All right, let’s dive in. What is mental strength? According to
positivepsychology.com, it is the capacity of an individual to deal
effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges, and perform to the
best of their ability irrespective of the circumstances in which they find
themselves, okay. I like that last part, irrespective of the circumstances
in which they find themselves, they’re able to still deal with those
things, deal with the stressors effectively. Mental strength is fundamental
to living the life you want most. It allows you to have meaningful social
connections where we feel safe, a healthy self-esteem, and enhances our
willingness to take risks, try new things and deal with difficult
circumstances as they come up. Mental strength, as I said earlier, is
developed over time. Just as strong bodies are not created in a day,
neither are strong minds. We must do the reps, we must do the reps that
strengthen our brain.
So how do we develop mental strength? There are some answers to this you’ve
probably heard before. But how do we develop that strength around the
circumstance of infidelity? Okay, first, daily mental practices, practicing
gratitude, this is proven to help with mood. Daily journaling, daily
checking in with yourself, evaluating how your day went. What went well?
What didn’t go well? Why it didn’t go well? Knowing what your little traps
are. Where do you get sunk? Where do you sink in? Do you worry too much
about what other people think? Do you care more about their opinion than
your own? Okay. Noticing what those are. Going, why do I care more? Why do
I let this person’s opinion derail me so much? Why? What is it that you’re
not believing within yourself?
These daily practices are proven to help with your mood. They’re
stabilizing, they are grounding. In general, the ability to do daily
practices of awareness and mental practices, it’s like flossing your teeth,
okay? You’re going to build this resilience, you’re going to build an
attitude. You’re going to build an attitude that teaches you that
challenges are an opportunity and not a threat. This will teach you to take
things in stride. It will help you to develop trust that you know that you
will bounce back, knowing that you will land on your feet, okay. These
daily mental practices help you to become more resilient.
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t even matter exactly which practice you start
with, just start, just start, okay. It can be as simple as having a blank
notebook and writing down three things you’re grateful for at the end of
the day. It can be having that same blank notebook and every morning
writing your intention for the day, and then at night checking in and
going, how did I do? And doing a really simple evaluation. Where did I go
off the rails? Where did I stay on? Okay. It can be so simple. And these
are the things that are the dental flossing of the brain, okay. Keeping
things clean, noticing when there’s an issue, okay.
What does resilience mean? Resilience is the process of adapting well in
the face of adversity, trauma, threats, or even significant sources of
stress. Being able to bounce back, okay. Resiliency was originally coined
in the engineering field to describe the ability of an object or substance
to spring back into shape. It’s not cool. I imagine something being smushed
down so small, and then slowly, slowly, slowly going back to its former
shape. And I think with human brains, not only are we going back to our
former shape, we’re like making it even more amazing. You think that was
good, watch this. Okay. Resiliency is something that I will cover more in
depth in another episode, because it is a little bit different than mental
toughness but it definitely plays a part.
Okay, so what about mental toughness in relation to infidelity? In 2017, a
psychologist named Peter Clough coined something called the four C’s. These
are personality characteristics that can be developed over time, much like
strengthening muscles. They are control, commitment, challenge and
confidence. I want to talk about each of these things and put my own spin
on it in regards to infidelity, what it looks like in regards to
infidelity. And as you listen, I want you to listen to my description of
each of those C’s and rate yourself on a scale of one to 10, where do I
excel? What needs strengthening? Why? Okay.
Okay, so, control, according to author Paul Lyons, means having a sense of
control in their life and their circumstances. It describes the extent to
which they can control the display of their emotions in the face of
challenges. This means working through highs and lows without being
derailed, okay. So it means being able to manage what is being thrown at
you without losing yourself. A few episodes back, I talked about losing
yourself. It’s basically self-control, showing up the way that you want to
show up, okay. Number two, commitment. Commitment means having the ability
to make goals and stick to them. When people think of being resilient, they
often are thinking in terms of control and commitment. They bounce back,
they’re steady, they don’t go off the rails, or if they do go off the rails
they always come back and learn from what took them off the rails in the
Okay, challenge. Challenge is the extent to which someone will push back on
their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk. It’s also about how they
see outcomes, both good and bad. Mentally tough people see challenges as
opportunities. They relish in the idea that they can learn and grow in an
unknown situation. They do not shy away from it. People are strong in the
challenge realm, and they usually enjoy new places, meeting new people and
being innovative and creative, okay. They have grit, they have tenacity.
Confidence is the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities,
especially their belief in themselves that they can deal with conflict and
challenge. They’ll have self-belief that they will be able to deal with any
situation, and the inner strength to stand their ground when needed.
Okay, so why do these matter in the realm of infidelity? Let’s talk about
it. Okay, control. Sometimes I see clients make things much harder for
themselves by how they handle infidelity. Again, please note, I am never
judging. Never. I’m just trying to help you avoid pitfalls, okay. Here’s a
couple of them. He cheated, so I’m going to cheat to get back, so he can
see how much it hurts. He says he wants an open marriage, so even though I
don’t want one, I’m going to go do this just so he knows how awful it
feels. Retaliation, revenge. These might feel like control, but in reality
it’s the wrong control. Wanting to keep the upper hand in the relationship
but really just hurting yourself and the relationship more is not the
control we’re going for here, okay. Here’s why, because that control is
more punitive and it’s mostly done out of acting outside of your values,
and not showing up how you really truly want to be, okay.
Real control, the control that I’m talking about in regards to mental
strength, is truly about showing up the way that you want holding on to
yourself, okay. You might have a thought that comes through your mind that
you know is mean and you might feel really justified in saying it, but not
saying it because of the person that you want to be. And I am not saying
holding back your expressions of hurt and frustration, and all of those
things. But when we’re losing control, it’s just like rapid fire, I’m just
going to say this just because I want to. And ultimately can actually slow
down the process because then you’re adding hurt to hurt. You’re hurt, so
I’m going to hurt you because you hurt me, and then he’s more hurt, and
then we’re all just hurt, and it has not quite the effect that we’re trying
to go for here, okay.
With infidelity, it is so easy to feel out of control, right? Everything
just got turned upside down. But the ability to maintain control or at
least sometimes maintain control is imperative. It will help you manage
your emotions and ultimately avoid things that will make things harder for
you, okay. With control, we are not only controlling our actions, but we’re
also controlling our thoughts, okay.
I have a good friend who is also a coach, who recently shared with me that
she was married twice, both times they were unfaithful. And as she looks at
how she showed up in those marriages, she was thinking really, really
negative thoughts about each of the spouses, really negative. She very much
felt like a victim and felt trapped, and spent her days really loathing her
partner. And then they had affairs. And so while she does not take
responsibility for their having an affair, she does take responsibility for
the negativity that she had in her mind. That she did not self-confront,
why am I feeling so negatively? What is going on? What am I not saying?
What am I not asking for? What am I not confronting? Okay.
Mental toughness, in this situation, looks like setting boundaries around
where you will allow your brain to go. And if things keep coming up,
dealing with them, talking about them, asking for help, whatever it is,
okay. Taking responsibility for it rather than just having these thoughts
go unchecked and ultimately bleeding out into the relationship.
Okay, next, commitment. Commitment really matters in infidelity. Commitment
matters in deciding if you’re going to stay or go, and deciding when you’re
going to revisit that decision, okay. Commitment means staying the course.
There are times to stop and reflect and analyze, but doing them with the
intent of moving forward, okay. For example, I worked with a client who was
committed to staying in her marriage. And she was meeting with me working
towards that end. And then one day she got more information and she decided
that it was no longer safe or she wanted to stay in her marriage, just like
that. But she had made the decision beforehand, this is what I’m going to
do. And then once she had new information, she gave herself permission to
change her mind.
The lack of commitment that I’m talking about looks like every five minutes
going back and forth, and back and forth. And so we say we’re committed and
we’re showing up in one way to a decision … Let’s say that somebody is
committed to getting divorced, and they start taking really strong, loving
action towards the end, and then they keep changing their mind and making
it harder for themselves, going back and forth, and back and forth, okay.
The circumstances haven’t changed, you keep changing your mind. With this
particular client, she didn’t change her mind first, the circumstance
changed first and then she reevaluated and decided she wanted to leave.
Commitment allows you to stay the course, to hold steady, okay? I’m
staying, this is how I hold him accountable, this is how I hold myself
accountable, this is what this needs to look like for me to feel safe here,
okay. Not shying away, telling the truth, showing your pain, letting him
see it, not shielding him from it but not actively trying to punish, okay.
Those are parts of commitment.
All right, next, challenge, a willingness to step into hard, unknown and
risky situations. As I prepared this episode, I can say that this is the
one of the C’s that I probably excel at the most. I moved a ton as a child
and I’ve moved a ton as an adult. I’ve experienced so much change in my
life. I’ve moved to foreign countries, I have lived in poverty type
situations where I spent several months in a tent, all kinds of interesting
things, okay. And because of this, I do have this mental attitude towards
challenge that I’m like, well, I’ll figure that out. I don’t know how, but
I’ll figure it out.
One of the areas where this showed up for me is in deciding to pick up my
family of six or seven, me and my six kids, and move to Montana, to a tiny,
tiny town and become a mother to five more children, and be married to a
widower, and move my kids again. My son was a senior in high school, he
went to three different high schools. Some thought I was a little nutty,
some thought that it was not fair to my kids, some people have their
judgments, right. I had the mentality that I’ll figure it out, we’ll figure
it out. My kids are resilient, that was my thought about my kids. They’re
resilient, we’ll figure this out, okay.
I’ve experienced this in starting this business, in starting this podcast.
Feels risky, people might judge me, people might have thoughts. But this
overriding attitude that I’m up for it. This is challenging, I’m up for it,
okay. There’s fear there that comes up sometimes, all of those negative
emotions, the same things that are there for you sometimes. But the
challenge of it, the challenge overwrites the fear and doubt. I can do
this. This is an attitude I am willing to be open to this being for my
good, for our good. It is not ruining my life, it is helping me become a
better version of myself. It’s helping us become a better version of us,
whether we stay or grow, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to reach
deeper, reach deeper, find that grit, find that tenacity, rolling up your
sleeves and getting to work, okay?
Here’s some ideas of circumstances where you could use this. I’m stepping
out into being single at 50, I can do this. An adventure awaits, I get to
create it. Or we are inventing marriage 2.0. It’s an adventure, it’s a
challenge. What can we build? Game on, let’s go. Okay.
All right. The fourth is confidence. The fourth C, confidence. Overriding
sense of self that says you can do this. This is really, really hard, but
you are still you. This is painful, but you are more than your pain. This
too shall pass, okay. Of course, having some confidence is helpful, okay.
Confidence allows us to show up as a player, not as a victim. A victim
says, I have no power here, I am being acted upon, I can’t do anything
about it, I have to see and wait what they do. A voice of confidence still
feels all the emotions, all the pain, the hurt, the disappointment, all the
things, but there’s this overriding voice that says, this is really, really
hard, but I will figure this out. I matter.
Okay, you might have feelings come up or thoughts come up that maybe you
weren’t good enough or if you are better or whatever, then this wouldn’t
have happened, but this confidence is louder, it’s louder than that. You
know deep down that you were always good enough, you know deep down that
this really isn’t about you. That it wasn’t your choice that this choice
was made and it affects you, but that it wasn’t your choice. It’s a symptom
of a bigger problem and you can help find the problem, right. You can help
find it, you can help identify it. Take what is yours to work through to
try to heal from and pass on over the rest.
And when I say that, I’m not saying take what is yours in the choice of
having an affair or any form of infidelity, okay? That is squarely on the
shoulders of the person who did it. I’m saying, take what is yours in
looking at if there is a problem, a bigger problem that infidelity is a
symptom of, what is the problem? How have I contributed? How can I clean it
up? Okay. It’s the attitude of, I can handle this, I can move forward, I
can be happy again.
Okay, so how do you develop these C’s? I want you to go through and see how
you scored yourself. What was your score in each area? Is there one that
really needs strengthening or more than one? Likely more than one? Likely
all of them? I know that’s the case for me, all of them can be
strengthened. So I want you to choose something that you want to grow in,
and then go do the reps, go do the lifting.
Here’s some examples, okay. I want to develop the mindset that it is
working for me, not against me. This is an example that you can say to
yourself, okay. So when you start to feel like a victim or feel sorry for
yourself, I want you to watch your brain, go, here I go, I’m slipping into
self-pity, I’m slipping into this is as good as it’s going to get for me,
feeling sorry for myself. This is what I’m going to do, I’m going to go
listen to Andrea’s podcasts on victim mentality, I’m going to remind myself
that I am not a victim, and I’m going to remind myself that nothing good
ever comes from being in that place. I am going to redirect my brain. I’m
going to think other things instead, okay. You can pick something that you
want to get better at, like journaling, like daily prompts that help your
I recently started writing in a journal that I was gifted, and I think it
was on Amazon, someone sent it to me, a coach sent it to me, and it’s
journaling prompts about gratitude. And it’s awesome. And so every day I
open it up and I answer the questions that make me jog my brain around
specific things that I’m grateful for. I really enjoy it. Like I said
earlier, another thing you can do is a daily evaluation. Setting your
intention in the morning of how you want to show up that day and then
evaluating how you do at the end of the day. Committing to small decisions
builds your strength for the big ones. I want to say that one more time.
Committing to small decisions builds your strength for the big ones.
Where can you commit to something small? Find it, commit to it, do the reps
over and over until it becomes easier and your brain is literally tougher,
okay, stronger. You’ll be amazed. Our brains are very, very flexible and
bendy. Neurons can do new things by forging new or stronger connections
with other neurons. It’s science. This isn’t just like, woo, woo, fun idea,
this is science. It’s science, okay. It’s just as real as growing muscles
in your body, okay, it’s just as real. We’re growing our brain, it’s
crucial. It’s an opportunity to grow in a way you never have before, okay.
No faking it on it, no weak sauce halfway doing the reps, okay.
Infidelity, it calls for all hands on deck. To really move forward from
this, it calls on commitment to, I am going to move forward. I am going to
move forward. I am going to create an amazing life. Guess what? That
amazing life is not going to land in your lap, you got to go get it my
friends, go get it. Okay. This is where you have all the power, all the
control, all the authority. Protect your mind from things that don’t lead
anywhere good, ever. Redirect, decide, commit over and over again. Pick an
area that you want to grow in, go strengthen your brain and take action,
okay. Go do it.
All right, my friends, as always, it’s been a pleasure and joy to be here.
Thank you for those reviews. Thank you for the emails. I love hearing from
you. And I will see you next week. All right, bye-bye. Thank you for
listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would like to be kept
in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast episodes, and other
ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly email. You can subscribe
at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again, it’s
andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.