Many people believe they are capable of handling anything life throws at them. But then, occasionally, even the tiniest obstacle might feel daunting to them. While at other times, it’s easy for them to dismiss major losses as inevitable aspects of life. In this article, we will explore what is mental toughness.
What is responsible for this difference? It’s mental toughness. Mental toughness helps you fend off negative thoughts and enables you to live through the ups and downs of life. It’s a kind of mental muscle that you can build to enhance your general well-being.
Let’s have an in-depth look at mental toughness.
The Concept Of Mental Toughness?
Mental toughness refers to the ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure. It is closely related to character, resilience, grit, and perseverance.
A pioneer in the study of mental toughness, Professor Peter Clough of Manchester Metropolitan University, defines a mentally tough person as “someone happy in their own skin, can take whatever comes along in stride, and mostly enjoys the challenge.”
Why Do You Need To Develop Mental Toughness?
Mental strength has many benefits that make it an essential personality trait to have:
A lack of mental toughness keeps your motivation levels low. You feel as if nothing is working out, no matter how hard you try. Whereas mentally strong people have a sense of control over their circumstances. That sense of control drives them to keep trying, growing, and looking for answers. Resilient people do not give up easily.
Mental toughness also provides the discipline and intrinsic motivation required to avoid procrastination. Mentally tough people have an easier time starting and finishing tasks.
Increasing your capacity to seek solutions makes you more agile and adaptable. You spend less time focusing on what isn’t going well and more time on how you can achieve the desired result. Also, you are open to the possibility that multiple paths, solutions, or outcomes indicate success. You aren’t obsessed with having everything go your way because you aren’t afraid of change.
Both internal and external criticism can be destabilizing. It becomes much easier to stay focused when you develop mental toughness, even when people disagree with you or you are scared. Mentally tough people know what to listen to and what not to listen to.
Discretion is also important in developing self-awareness and, as a result, emotional regulation skills. You’ll develop a greater tolerance for negative emotions as you learn to sit with them. You’ll eventually figure out which emotions are worth engaging with and which are better left alone.
When you are mentally strong, life’s events, big or small, don’t stress you out much. You see adversity as an opportunity to grow. Even when big things happen, you can reframe them and trust that you’ll get through them because you’ve been through a lot.
Managing your stress is one of the most effective ways to improve your overall well-being. Lower stress levels are associated with a lower risk of depression, anxiety, and various physical health conditions.
You are less afraid of failure when you are mentally strong. Even if you are concerned about the outcome, it is easier to shift into problem-solving mode. Because your self-esteem is higher, you are more confident in solving problems. More importantly, you are confident that you will survive the worst-case scenario.
How Can You Develop Mental Toughness?
The following strategies help you develop mental toughness:
Recognize your emotions.
The first step to cultivating mental toughness is recognizing your emotions. Take a break and ask yourself how you’re doing. Do you feel nervous? Angry? Upset? Happy?
According to a psychotherapist, Dr. Natasha Duke, it is so important to check in with yourself and name your feelings because you can’t begin giving yourself more of what you might need without that mental check-in.
Practice being compassionate to yourself.
Practice being self-compassionate to quiet your inner critic and treat yourself with kindness and gentleness as you would a friend. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you care about who is having a problem, and extend that love and compassion to yourself.
Examine your problem.
When you face a problem, pause and consider whether this is a true disaster or an inconvenience.
People often confuse a mere inconvenience with a disaster. Creating that distinction can be helpful. Because if it’s an inconvenience, you can brainstorm and look for a solution.
Establish firm values.
Living a life based on values is an effective method to preserve mental and moral toughness. Matching your actions with personal guiding ideas requires courage and awareness.
You fall into mediocrity at best or feel helpless at worst if you give in to allowing yourself to veer toward decisions and actions that push you away from your truth.
Mindfulness training improves your ability to respond rather than react. It allows you to slow down the stimulus-reaction loop and choose a response that works for you. This skill will come in handy over time when you least expect it — but most need it. You may notice that you are less anxious when speaking with your manager or less likely to pick fights with your partner.
There are many different mindfulness practices, so choose one that appeals to you and fits your lifestyle. Consider mindful breathing, walking meditation, or participating in a virtual yoga class.
Change your focus from winning to learning.
Move your attention away from always winning or having to be correct to attain your goals. You will only experience disappointment if you adopt this kind of perfectionist mentality. Anyone will ultimately lose their cool under the relentless pressure of having to win. Additionally, learning sometimes requires making mistakes.
Take classes, lectures, and chances, and participate in competitions with a learning attitude to develop mental toughness.
Every circumstance offers the potential to pick up new skills. Instead of beating yourself against the solid, unyielding boulder of victory and perfectionism, you gain an understanding and progress when you go in with no expectations and an open mind.
Express your feelings.
Open up about your feelings when something bothers you instead of bottling them up. Work on assertive communication to help you express your feelings.
The practice of naming your feelings and effectively communicating them, as well as having a supportive and empowering social circle, is important whether you do it through journaling, therapy, or talking to your best friend.
Step outside of your comfort zone.
Mental strength, like many other skills, requires practice to master. If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of mental toughness, you need to step outside of your comfort zone. You may have to do something new, unfamiliar, or frightening at some point, which is good.
It doesn’t matter whether you start small or big. Sign up for a class, have coffee with someone who intimidates you, or use LinkedIn to apply for your dream job. Whatever it is, pay attention to how you react when frightening feelings arise. Write them down in your journal and respond to them as if they were good friends. You’ll realize that you can accomplish difficult tasks — and you will.
Maintain a journal.
Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of your mental strength regularly. It can help you track your personal development over time, which boosts your self-esteem.
There are no guidelines for what you write in your journal. Try free-writing for a few minutes, goal-setting, or making a list of any stressors that seem especially overwhelming. Writing things down can sometimes help your brain begin to work through problems. It’s a small step from feeling overwhelmed to feeling in control.
Get professional help.
Working with a mental health professional or a coach can be extremely beneficial in developing mental strength. After all, the battle you’re usually fighting is in your head. Coaches and therapists are skilled at teaching you to challenge negative thought patterns so that they do not run your behavior unconsciously.
Psychotherapists frequently use CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, to accomplish this. This technique is particularly beneficial for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Coaches can help you stay on track as you work toward your goals. They can help you reframe setbacks, avoid falling into bad habits and stay motivated.
The Bottom Line
Mental toughness is the ability to persevere through challenges and hardships effectively and not let any stressors bring you down. Mentally tough people tend to be courageous, adaptable, and enthusiastic. Mental toughness is a personality trait that can be learned and polished over time.
Mental strength doesn’t mean pushing through, just like physical strength doesn’t come from constantly working out. Finding balance means being able to push and praise with equal ease and grace, as well as to work and play, fall in love and win.