What does it mean to be mentally tough? Well, let me try to answer that question with this analogy. We workout and do exercise to strengthen our bodies. But, the discipline and time we invested in working out helps us heal faster and recover from a fracture better.
Same with mental toughness. Developing a tough mentality helps you cope with distressing and overwhelming moments in life better. You are more capable of handling fear and doubt.
Get an emotional trashcan.
It can be hard to develop mental strength with negative thoughts clouding your mind. A solution could be to find an emotional trashcan. Negativity is often the thing standing between where you are now and where you want to be. It fills you with dread and anxiety and harms you physically and emotionally.
Instead of letting the emotional trash fester in your mind, write them down. Or find a creative outlet for your thoughts. Or reach out to a therapist. The point is to empty out your worries and doubts so that your mind can have respite and clarity. An emotional trashcan can help you untangle yourself from what you are going through because it allows you to observe your thoughts from a distance. Once you’ve cleared your head, it will be easier for you to focus on what you want, your confidence will increase, and you will be able to rebuild your self-esteem.
Acknowledge and use the power of choice.
Your power is your power to choose. Every day you will have to make choices, and those cumulative choices will eventually direct your life. This simple fact is sometimes too much to handle, especially when we feel pressured to make a “right” choice. But, let me tell you a secret. There is no such thing as the “right” choice. Choices that are honest and in tune with what you want or need at that moment are considered to be the optimal choices. The right choice is dependent on where you want to go. If you find yourself feeling uncertain or unclear, make a list. Figure out what you are willing to let go of (especially if it does not serve you), what you are grateful for, and what you will focus on.
Do the difficult things first.
Most of the time, we want to eat dessert first. I get it. Dessert tastes good and is far more appetizing than vegetables. But, we need to learn how to eat the veggies first.
Same in life. We all, at some point, have shirked away from doing something difficult. It’s normal. Our species is inherently pessimistic and avoids “bad experiences.” But, sometimes, to move forward, we need to wrestle through difficulty. You do not have to do it alone. Find a group of people who willing to be your support when it feels like you can’t go ahead, but most importantly, find the strength within yourself.
Not only does exercise have tremendous benefits for your mental health, but it also helps you establish discipline. Discipline is necessary to develop a tough mentality because it helps you build consistency. There will be moments in life where negativity will rear its head and try to get you to quit. Whether you quit or not depends on how committed and consistent you are. Discipline is not having a routine, but rather the act of continued work on something regardless of the circumstances. For example, it is easy to achieve something in a comfortable environment with ample resources, and everything you could possibly want is available. It is more difficult when you are working out of a gritty basement with a noisy water heater and your neighboring yelling above you.
Learn How to Lose.
Failure is unpleasant for just about everyone on the planet. No one goes out of their way to fail. But, failure is the ultimate teacher. The problem is that most of us ignore the lesson. We become anxious and distressed, sometimes rightly so, that we lose sight of how we can learn from what happened. Take time to sit with your thoughts and work through what you’re experiencing. Ask yourself what is the lesson here, and how do I move forward? Once you learn what you’ve needed to learn, it becomes much easier to get back up.
Remember, you learn much more from an exam that you failed than from an exam where you got a perfect score.
Be grateful, even in times of crisis.
Gratitude can help you increase your mental toughness. You may be more inclined to focus on the negative parts of your life. As well are. But, gratitude increases your overall happiness, reduce your depression, and teach you how to override negative thought patterns. It teaches you to talk kindly to yourself as well as to others and helps you rely on yourself. Over time, you will find that you don’t beat yourself up as much or compare yourself to others too often. You will be focused on your goals and dreams and end up achieving them.
Let go of things you cannot control.
Life is too short to worry about things that you cannot control. It is tempting to want to control everything yourself, especially when things go wayside. But, eventually, something has got to give. When things go wrong, ask yourself: is this something I can solve, and if so, how? What is your role in the process of achieving a solution? Learning to let things that are out of your control go will make you feel less stressed and help you focus. Most importantly, it will help you learn how to handle distressing events in the future.
Developing resilience takes time and practice. You may stumble along the way. The important thing is to keep working on it. I hope that this article has helped you and given you the courage to continue working towards your goals.
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