Mental toughness is a trait we can all embrace. This indomitable attribute helps you get through tough times and see goals through to completion. Some call this grit. The ability to thrust yourself through difficult, sometimes painful situations really builds the will to survive in people.
Whether it is through developing emotional awareness or having control over your mind, mental toughness is a prerequisite to success. What can you do to hardwire this trait into your repertoire of skills? Here are a few ways to help you build mental toughness.
The first step to consider when trying to develop mental toughness is to practice self-awareness. Our bodily reservoir of resources is often able to handle much more than we sometimes think. Understanding what your body’s max is and pushing beyond this point can help you build mental toughness. Often when the mind says yes and the body says no, the mind wins, and this winning helps to develop mental durability.
- Building up Your Willpower Muscle
Body building is called that because the process builds muscle, which takes time and consistent activity toward a goal. Building willpower that will give you mental toughness is similar to body building in this way. There are three ways to really amp up your willpower: Act with intention, that is, make plans to do something and follow through; accurately gauge the effort that is required to complete a task; and display courage, which allows you to bear the intense fear that some situations can cause.
- Tolerating Discomfort
No one likes to feel uncomfortable. We often spend an inordinate amount of time and money avoiding discomfort. Preparing yourself by getting used to feelings of discomfort will help increase your mental toughness. Even though we are mentally tough, we still experience emotions that can bring discomfort. Learning to sit with this discomfort and allowing yourself to accept these emotions helps you get through them. Discomfort can lead to greater advancements mentally and physically.
- Don’t Allow Yourself to Complain, Criticize or Whine
Nobody likes a constant whiner. Words are powerful. What you speak is real to you. If you complain, criticize others and consistently whine about situations you expend mental energy. This energy could be used to handle other tasks that require your mental fortitude. Putting your energy into making the situation – and yourself – better would be a healthier use of your resources. Use your words to improve the situation, not grumble about it.
- Use Your Mental Energy Wisely
The older I get, the more I realize mental and physical energy are finite resources. Determining how to expend these resources is an important task. Ruminating about things over and over again can really drain you. Conserve your energy for productive tasks, like problem solving or goal setting. Letting go of things that are not under your control prevents you from expending mental energy on these things. Making a conscious effort to alter your thoughts to things in this positive category can help produce good mental habits.
Detaching yourself sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. Understanding that events and happenings in life are not all about you is an important step in boosting your mental toughness. Detachment can help you to remove yourself from the situation and understand that wasting energy dwelling on why things occur prevents you from moving forward and improving the situation.
- Show Self-Compassion
We all make mistakes and we all experience failures. Whenever you make a mistake and have a minor or major failure in life, it is important to be compassionate toward yourself. Learning mental toughness means sometimes we have to accept our weaknesses. This process allows you to be human and find strength in other areas.
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
Everyone experiences emotion in varying degrees of intensity. Learning not to let your emotions get the best of you is essential to developing mental toughness. Understanding your emotions is a good thing, but allowing them to color your judgement in situations is not. Increasing your resilience in this area will allow you to handle situations in a positive way when emotions run high – the mark of a mentally tough individual.
- Train to Be Mentally Tough
Mental toughness requires training that develops strength over time. The military is known for developing mental toughness in its recruits through basic training (which helps pay dividends later in life). Engaging in educational training and physical activity can help to up your mental strength. This can also boost your self-esteem and give you a deep sense of accomplishment.
Mental toughness improves over time with the right combination of activities and training. This characteristic can help you to manage life’s greatest challenges. A strong mental approach to life is not something that comes easily, but is certainly a worthwhile skill to acquire. Take the time to engage in these steps and in the end you will up your own mental toughness.
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