Sponsored content provided by The Jacquelyn Project.

Marshall Dahneke is running the 2023 Boston Marathon for cancer relief in honor of his daughter, Jacquelyn, who passed away from breast cancer in early 2022.

Marshall Dahneke is running the 2023 Boston Marathon for cancer relief in honor of his daughter, Jacquelyn, who passed away from breast cancer in early 2022. This column details his personal health journey, inspires massage therapists to live a healthier life, and promotes The Jacquelyn Project’s ‘Running for Cancer Relief’ efforts partnered with the Massage Therapy Foundation. Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link.

Endurance running demands physical toughness. Yet, no matter how hard I train, it’s usually not my legs or lungs that hold me back. Rather, it’s my mind, hardwired as it is to protect me from pain. Persevering in marathon training, or in a massage therapy career, requires a great measure of mental toughness.

In life, almost nothing turns out exactly as we anticipate. As the boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Life can be full of punches to the mouth, like our glutes screaming at us to stop running at mile 22, a family member passing from cancer, a nasty client. While we don’t get to choose our challenges, we always get to choose how we’ll respond.

A resilient mindset is the ability to adapt and rebound, even when we’re tempted to walk away from a commitment. Resilience is the ability to learn from falling short and still move forward … rather than giving up and giving in to wallowing or dwelling on failure. Psychologists characterize resilient people with a positive attitude, the ability to regulate emotions, seeing failure as a form of helpful feedback, learning from experience, adapting to new and different situations, even asking for help when needed.

Great news: Resilience is a transferable skill that can be leveraged in most life situations. Becoming more resilient in one area builds the strength and confidence to do so in others.

Increasing resilience requires intentional effort, including recognizing current soft spots and committing to trying new approaches, and exploring new boundaries. I invite you to prioritize one or more of the following behaviors to push beyond your current comfort zone. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

  • Begin by letting go of control – be more flexible. Since unanticipated challenges happen, learn to accept your circumstances while focusing on the items that you can influence.
  • Make every day meaningful. Set aside time to do something daily that delivers a sense of personal accomplishment. Identify and go after what helps you advance in the direction you wish to go.
  • Embrace challenge. As we view challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve, our mindset will shift to leaning into trials instead of away from them. Choose courage over comfort by confronting uncomfortable feelings when they arise rather than distracting ourselves. View failure as just a stepping stone to future success.
  • Address pain. Physical pain, especially chronic, can significantly erode mental resilience. Daily work is hard enough without ongoing physical pain. I rely heavily on my trusted partner of choice: Dr. Hoy’s Natural Pain Relief to effectively and safely address my nagging pains, enabling me to stay focused on achieving my larger goals.
  • Keep things in perspective. Even while facing challenging events, find ways to step back to maintain a long-term perspective. “This too shall pass.”
  • Make connections for support. Accepting help and support from those who care about, listen to and support you strengthens resilience. Just as loyal family and friends strengthen our resolve, supportive professional relationships also bolster resilience. One organization that has your back is Massage Warehouse, a partner that supports the profession by making massage easier through providing the right products and knowledge that enable therapists to focus on what they do best, improving their clients’ well-being.
  • Take decisive actions. Do not ignore problems. Figure out what needs to be done, create a plan, then engage. Focus on solving the problem rather than becoming paralyzed by negativity.
  • Nurture an optimistic view of yourself. Our brains are wired to pay more attention to negative events than positive ones. In reality, we experience positive outcomes much more frequently. Be proactive in acknowledging and even celebrating positive moments. Recognizing the good helps us establish a more optimistic outlook with the expectation that more good things will happen.
  • Have your own back. Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on others. We tend to be our own worst haters because self-doubt is a natural reaction to any bold attempt at change. Limit that inner critic and talk to yourself like you would a close friend.
  • Take care of yourself. Mental resilience is built on a wellness foundation. Include physical activity in your daily routine, get plenty of sleep, spend time outdoors, eat a healthy diet, and practicing relaxation and mindfulness techniques. Scheduling needed rest time is preventative medicine for the mind.
  • Help others. Service is a powerful way to fuel resilience. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness, is experienced more efficiently by people who have recently engaged in an act of kindness.
  • You’re a survivor, not a victim. Self-perception is self-fulfilling. A victim feels helpless and hopeless and remains passive and re-active. A survivor is assertive, pro-active, trusts their instincts and is confident they can take action to help themselves.

  • Embrace a mantra that connects to your why. Check in with what drives you, especially as you face tough times. A personal mantra serves as a sub-conscious mission statement that grounds us during challenging moments. I race with F.I.R.S.T. (Fast, Inspired, Resilient, Strong, TnT) written on my left hand next to my pacing watch and right above a tattoo of my daughter. I see my MANTRA every time I look at my daughter or watch … and every time I need to remember WHY.

Life will always be the most grueling endurance sport—and as we increase our resilience, we’ll become more versatile competitors, no matter what we face. Resilience is showing up even when we don’t want to. Take this opportunity to show up for yourself!

[Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link.]

About the Author

Marshall Dahneke is the grateful husband of Michelle and proud father of six wonderful children, a lover of massage, former CEO of Performance Health, 2016 Massage Hall of Fame inductee, and aspiring endurance athlete finding his way to a better way of life.