Comic Book Curious

Thundercats: Pouncing on Mental Toughness

February 23, 2022

“It’s no use; I’ve had it! There’s no way I can catch her!”
“I might as well…. give up.”
“I may lose…. but it won’t be because I gave up!"

Lion-o struggling to catch up to Cheetarah in Thundercats

Credit: Warner Bros.

We hear all of this as Lion-O struggles to keep up with Cheetara in their famous 2-mile race, a part of the Anointment Trials. This episode of Thundercats really spoke to me growing up, seeing even a character like Lion-O struggle with doubt and dealing with the fear of losing. Looking back (and looking back as an athlete), the lessons are even more impactful, as Lion-O showcases the benefits of self-talk and affirmation, integrity, and how the fear of failure isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Let’s look at these areas and why they are essential to everyone, not just in the world of athletics but in life as a whole.

Seeing this kind of self-talk and chatter is actually really common amongst athletes of any kind, whether in an individual sport like running or a team sport like basketball.

A chart of self talk in sports.

Photo Credit: SportPsych.com

More often than not, self-talk and chatter can be beneficial, especially in the heat of the moment types of situations.

How is self-talk beneficial? According to Brainpost.co, it can help boost an athlete’s motivation direct attention to more relevant actions (such as passing a ball or a baton). It can also be a spontaneous expression of self, allowing for clearing out any thought that’s taking up headspace. Overall, it helps reduce performance-based anxiety, which allows for better performance!

Self-talk can be beneficial for many people outside of athletics as well, as it can help you clear your mind and get any negative ideas out. It also enables you to process your thoughts better. For example, sometimes, you might say something and not realize how inaccurate it is until you process it verbally. On the flip side, say you’re going to an interview-it can help you get your nerves out of the way and hype you up positively. Overall, self-talk has many significant benefits!
For a brief summary of the Anointment Trials, the trials are a series of special events that the Lord of the Thundercat’s must participate in. The title “Lord” of the Thundercat’s is passed down from father to son. However, to officially become the leader of the Thundercat’s, the son has to show that he, himself is worthy of leading the famous Thundercat’s team. The trials are held over a five-day period in which various obstacles are completed, from strength to cunning, mind power, speed, and finally, evil.

Some of these specific events that take place during these trials include:

  • Facing off against Panthro in a spartan race-style course
  • Racing against Cheetara in a race
  • Outwitting the Thunder kittens
  • Overcoming fears, besting Tygra
  • Lastly, facing Mumm-Ra

The concept behind these trials is somewhat similar to what you possibly see in athletics- gauging to see if a player is worthy of being on a team. Or another way is if a specific team member is ready to be a team captain. A good example is possibly the NBA Combine.

The logo for the NBA Combine

Credit: NBA

Before the start of every new season, the NBA will do a draft to scout for players and see who can make the cut. Various tests will be conducted- such as vertical static jumps, sprints, and mobility tests. Combining those tests alongside other predetermining factors, a player will be deemed “worthy”. I would actually recommend watching the combine, as it is quite similar to the Anointment Trials in that regard! However, this article isn’t about how the Thundercats relate to the NBA; it’s about the lessons learned from the Anointment Trials and adapting that positive winning mindset onto anything one wants to accomplish!

This whole arc has many great takeaways outside of just showcasing only Lion-O’s struggles. This episode has specific takeaways that can help anyone overcome failure. Not only just loss but the uncertainty of taking on new tasks. We see Lion-O struggle with self-doubt, questioning, and fear of failure in the race alone. Going back to the topic of self-talk, we actually see these concepts play out in real-time. He can refocus and catch up to her as he is racing Cheetara and playing out his insecurities. Ultimately going for the win, surprising everyone.

What is also important to note is how he keeps his integrity throughout the entire race, ultimately proudly proclaiming- “I may lose…. but it won’t be because I gave up!”

Lion-o catching up to Cheetara in the race in Thundercats

Credit: Warner Bros.

This phrase is what I think turns Lion-O from a good character into a great character. With this utterance, he proclaims that he’ll finish the race no matter the outcome. What is integrity? For a quick explanation, it means being honest, confident, positive, and fair while in play, with no intent to cheat. Think about it as having behavior or action that would affect everyone else involved in the activity. You wouldn’t want them to negatively affect you or the game as a whole, so in turn, you do the same.

Even though Lion-O wanted to quit, he even accepted the loss for a moment, but he kept that integrity to finish that race. He tried to give Cheetara a fair race and show the other Thundercats that being a good leader (even if it’s not THE Thundercats leader) always does the right thing.

Lastly, the fear of failing also affected Lion-O (and what can be taken away from it). For those that grew up watching Thundercats, the Anointment Trials is a HUGE part of Lion-O’s character development. As one could imagine, there was a lot of stress for him to become THE leader, as his dad was also the leader, and his father was before him. Furthermore, there were many capable team members Lion-O had to prove himself against Panthro; an accomplished fighter,

An image of Panthro, a member of the Thundercats

Credit: Warner Bros.

or Tygra; the Council Leader of the Thundercat’s, just to name a couple.

An image of Tygra from the Thundercats

Credit: Warner Bros.

Knowing that many team members are just as capable as Lion-O, one might wonder, how does he deal with the stress of taking on such a challenge? In short, the Anointment Trials showcases how he manages to deal with this exact question (and the rest of the series effectively reinstates that). Not all of us are Lion-O, however! While this is the case, you can still learn a lot from the leader of the Thundercats. Especially within the spectrum of facing your fears.

The official fandom site actually does go into detail about the episode’s moral (The Trial of Speed), explaining that two significant trains of thought are often at play in terms of why failure happens: one perspective states that failure is attributed to uncontrollable factors such as lack of effort; where experienced loss, performance decreases. Once defeated (mentally or physically or both), they will often not spend much more time looking for ways to overcome that failure. On the flip side, others will attribute failures to effort (mastery-oriented). This mastery-oriented mindset then looks to develop hypotheses and tests to see what works.

Furthermore, developing a positive mindset alongside being persistent will also help tremendously. To overcome failure (or at least begin to fear it less) is to think and affirm that not all risks will end as failures, as no one will ultimately know the outcome of any given event. Give yourself a chance to tackle the event! Don’t assume failure before it’s even happened. Lastly, to complete the triad is persistence. Even if a task looks doubtful, the positive reinforcement and allowance of trying the opportunity can often lead to heroic efforts.

As we are now running to the finish line of this article, allow yourself to try, be persistent no matter the event, and test different hypotheses if you do fail! Developing a growth mindset is a solid cornerstone to any heroic effort. Lion-0’s journey is an excellent summary of this. Not only in the race but in the series as a whole.

 

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