Mental toughness is an important attribute of the mind that helps you steer through difficult circumstances without losing confidence. Psychology explores mental health but fails to define mental strength. In practice, being mentally tough means you’re able to manage your thoughts, regulate your emotions, and think positively despite the weight of your circumstances. Most successful people in life happen to be mentally tough. As a Mentalizer, you need to cultivate mental toughness. This means finding, within yourself, the courage to live your life according to your values. To increase your mental toughness, it takes a lot more than just willpower. You‘ll need to work hard, and be committed to forming healthy habits and devoting time to self-improvement. This week’s post outlines some key strategies that you can use to increase your mental toughness.
1. Positive Self Talk
Olympics athletes, Navy SEALs and other groups of people who have to go through some really tough training use positive self-talk to increase their mental toughness. Every time you’re going through a hard situation in life, your brain is going to scream, “You’re going to Lose”, or “You’re going to die”. Positive self-talk is a way to keep your cool, stay put and follow the right path so you can come out successful. Pessimists tell themselves that unpleasant events will last too long, or forever. Their thinking goes like this…’I’ll never get this done’, or ‘I’m terrible’. On the other hand, optimists tend to see things from another perspective. They think like…’This happens often but it’s not a big deal’, ‘I’m good at what I do, today wasn’t just my lucky day’. Pessimists will see the glass as being half empty while optimists will see it as being half full. Practicing positive self-talk about yourself and your life is a crucial strategy to boost your mental toughness and outlook on life.
2. Set Goals
You probably have heard this a hundred times, but you still don’t do it! The most successful people have clear goals that can be broken down into daily actions. However much energy you might have to go the direction you want to go, it’s all in vain if you don’t have goals to guide you. Start by writing your goals down, and track your progress along the way. Break down big goals (e.g. annual goals) into smaller action steps that you can take daily, weekly, etc. This way, you can see your progress one day at a time, which helps keep your eyes trained on what you want to achieve.
Power athletes will visualize themselves crossing the line every time they feel like they’re too tired to finish through. However big the challenges you’re facing in life, just close your eyes, and walk through your difficulties one step at a time. If you’re working towards accomplishing a goal, visualize yourself having achieved it. If you want to buy a new house, get a picture of this house somewhere and visualize yourself living in it. Visualize yourself doing what you want to do in life. This keeps your minds focused, and makes the goals seem closer to your grasp.
4. Evaluate Your Core Beliefs
Your core beliefs play into your mental toughness. We all develop firm beliefs about ourselves, others and life in general. Sometimes, these beliefs happen to be unproductive and inaccurate. Your core beliefs often turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself that you’re a failure in life, you’ll be less apt to taking action that might lead to success. Identify your core beliefs and re-evaluate them. Eliminate beliefs that are tying your hands behind your back, and emphasize on the ones that help you make positive progress. This requires a lot of hard work and purposeful intention, but ultimately has a profound impact on your mental toughness.
5. Tolerate Discomfort
This is another great way to increase your mental toughness. Think about getting outside your comfort zone for a while. Learn to be aware of your emotions so that you can make the best choices from them. Mentally tough people experience the same emotions that failures do, but they choose to react differently. If you’re experiencing doubts, fear and anxiety when starting out something new in life, try getting outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to keep moving. Instead of wishing you could be good at something, choose to behave and act in a way that’s going to make you good at it. Have it in mind that some discomfort is necessary in order to achieve the bigger gain. It’ll be trying to tolerate discomfort, but it gets easier with time, as your confidence grows.
6. Use Your Mental Energy Wisely
Most people tend to waste their mental energy thinking about things they have no control of in life. The more you focus on negative problems that you can’t solve, the less mental energy you’ll have to take on your creative endeavors. If you’re the kind that sits and worries about bad weather all day, you’ll find that your mental energy drains fast. Instead of wishing your parents were millionaires, work hard so that your kids can have millionaire parents. Choose to focus on things that you can control, such as whether you succeed or not. Save your mental energy for our goals, and keep away all unproductive and negative thought processes. This way, you’ll be able to increase your mental toughness and increase your prospects of success in life.
Have it in mind that building mental toughness is a work in progress. It’s not something you try one day and quit the next day. You have to be focused on making positive self-talk, changing your unproductive core beliefs, and visualizing the kind of life you want to achieve. However good you get at it, there’s always room for improvement. Reflect upon your progress so that you can strengthen your resolve to be mentally tough!