When I served in the South African Air Force, as you'd expect, there were times when things got challenging. Tough even. Fear, hunger, cold, loneliness, fatigue, pain, a fair amount of humiliation. Not continually, not even regularly, but discomfort is common to the military. (As it is to life)
At those times your brothers would respond in one of two ways. Either,
“If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have signed up!”
– or –
“Take a cement pill, and harden up!”
The first an effort to laugh off the discomfort. The joke was we were all conscripts, we hadn't signed up. The message: Even as conscripts we have agency. We had still made the choice not to defer, or object.
The second began as an insult from our instructors, but over time became a joke amongst the troops. It is a checkpoint to remind you a simple truth in life. Mental toughness is a decision.
You always have agency. Pain is inevitable, but suffering a choice.
So, if you can't take a joke, take a cement pill…
…and harden up.