You may have bulging biceps and sculpted abs, but physical strength doesn’t transfer to mental strength. But don’t let this disappoint you. We can improve our physical strength with the proper fuel and exercise program. Similarly, we can train our mental strength and build resilience and grit.
And like weight lifting, effective methods to build mental strength start small and increase gradually. The process of building muscles relies on physical adaptations. Similarly, building mental strength relies on creating new neural pathways through neuroplasticity in the brain.
This article will explain what it means to be mentally strong and why this is good. It will then provide 5 examples of how one can be mentally strong.
What does it mean to be mentally strong?
A superb definition of what it means to be mentally strong is found on the Live and Learn Consultancy website:
Someone who is in tune with his/her own body and emotional thoughts and is able to have a positive outlook on most things in life.
Mental strength is the ability to deal with hardship and bounce back from anything. Your level of mental toughness dictates how much you suffer mentally and physically in a problematic situation.
We all endure difficult situations. Some people cope better than others. Your genetics influence this, as do individual differences. But the good news is that we can all train our mental toughness.
How strong are you mentally?
In 2002 Peter Clough and Keith Earle developed a mental toughness guide and questionnaire. Their mental toughness construct pivots around 4 critical threads of mental toughness. In their view, the 4 most important areas of mental toughness are:
The questionnaire contains 68 questions based on these 4 areas.
If you're wondering how tough you really are, this questionnaire will give you a pretty good idea!
What are the benefits of being mentally strong?
Mentally strong people live longer and healthier lives and experience more joy. Mental toughness is beneficial in the workplace, education, and personal lives. It is also essential for some careers, such as professional athletes or military personell.
People who are strong mentally are also more inclined to be:
- Good problem solvers.
- Successful in the workplace.
- Cope well under pressure.
- Maintain a positive demeanor.
When you are mentally strong, you don’t waste time on negativity. You know what you want and have the confidence to go after it. Mentally strong people are in control of their lives and have the mental fortitude to achieve their potential.
💡 By the way: Do you find it hard to be happy and in control of your life? It may not be your fault. If you want to start feeling better, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet to help you be more in control. 👇
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But it doesn't have to be! These 10 tips will protect you from anything that's trying to steal your happiness!
5 ways to be mentally strong
Wouldn’t it be nice to live life with more confidence and assertion? To know what you want and go after it without a pervasive fear of failure looming over you.
Here are 5 ways you can build your mental strength.
1. Embrace your fears
We all live with fear, but if we allow our fear to control our actions, we buffer ourselves from risk. And if we don’t take risks, we don’t reap the rewards.
We can’t eradicate fear. Some fears are essential and prevent us from risking our lives. Often, fear and success are entwined.
Erin Hansen’s words on fear are all you need to know about embracing them.
There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky. And you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, “What if you fly?
We are so fearful of what might go wrong that we forget to see what could go right. We keep ourselves small for our fear of failure; by doing this, we never give our wings a chance to fly.
If you want to learn how to deal with these types of fear, here's our article on the fear of success and how to deal with it.
2. Master your emotions
Mentally strong people are in control of their emotions. They can handle their emotions better than others. They do this through self-awareness and self-exploration.
So listen to how you feel and learn to decipher the secret language of your mind and body. Most people are guilty of bulldozing through life without listening to the murmurings of their souls. Can you even tell the difference between your feelings and emotions?
Here are some effective ways to help you master your emotions, with links to our respective articles on the topics:
- Breathing techniques.
- Getting out in nature.
3. Learn to say no
People pleasers live their lives putting other people first. They loiter around feelings of guilt and resentment and become trapped in a cycle.
If you have people-pleasing tendencies, it’s time to break their shackles and learn to say “no.” It’s time to put your own needs before others. This behavior is not selfish; it is all part of building your mental strength.
It is OK to say “no” if you are invited to a social occasion that you don’t want to attend. Or a friend asks for your help when you are up to your limit with your schedule.
The power of the word “no” allows you to get your own needs met and honor yourself. It stops you from exhausting yourself with other people. It helps you recognize your own worth and value.
Perhaps the most critical benefit of saying “no” to things that don’t excite you is the new opportunities this gives way to. Saying “no” to some things opens up the space to say “yes” to things that excite you.
4. Be accountable
Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Take credit for your successes and also own your mistakes.
Being accountable isn’t about blaming and shaming. It is about owning your flaws as well as your attributes. Being accountable shows the world that you are human; you own your mistakes and are willing to learn from them.
Accountable people don’t try to hide their mishaps. Nor are they embarrassed about their successes. They are fair and honorable, and in return, they garner respect from others.
I’ve seen colleagues try to pass other people’s work off as their own or throw a colleague under the bus for their wrongdoings. Accountability helps strengthen your sense of self and helps you trust and respect yourself.
5. Believe in yourself
George Michael was right when he sang, “you gotta have faith.”
You absolutely must believe in yourself. That said, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance; always strive for greater confidence.
Build your skills, take in the lessons around you and learn to be the best version of yourself.
You are more worthy than you realize. You are capable of more incredible things than you could ever know. Boost your self-belief and see yourself through your best friend’s eyes. Be the person your dog thinks you are.
Have your own back and cheerlead yourself!
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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People who are mentally strong live longer and happier lives. It’s not that mentally strong people have less adversity in their lives, but they have robust coping mechanisms and a strong sense of self. The tips discussed in this article will hopefully help you build your own mental toughness, starting today.
Do you consider yourself to be mentally strong? What's your favorite tip to help you improve your mental toughness? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!