When life is running smoothly, measuring mental strength can feel irrelevant and will often seem unimportant. But when faced with significant events like personal illness, divorce, or getting laid off, discovering the depths of your resilience becomes crucial.
What is Mental Strength?
Depending on your personality, worldview, and experience, your mental strength will manifest differently when needed, but there are fundamental qualities that indicate how mentally strong and resilient you will be when times are tough.
Self-Awareness. Be aware of what is going on in your head so you can make sound decisions and avoid living out drama and resentment. Challenge faulty beliefs and develop more constructive ways of coping. Release old stories that are keeping you in a job or relationship that you know you have outgrown.
Conscientiousness. Remain true to your core values and principles. Organize your life, take your responsibilities to others seriously, and follow through on your plans.
Patience. Bear with annoyances and delays. Rather than making you a doormat, patience gives you the ability to stay calm and choose your actions. Learn to slow down and consider your options. Practice allowing things to be as they are instead of stressing out and trying to change or manipulate others.
Flexibility. Being open to change allows you to adjust your thinking and adapt to new circumstances. Reframe your attitude so you see opportunities in every outcome instead of experiencing change as a disruption.
Authenticity. Understand your strengths and celebrate your unique gifts. Release the need to wear a mask each day and just be you. Learn to be unapologetic about all parts of yourself.
Prepare yourself for whatever lies ahead. You can do almost anything if you set your mind to it. Try these tips for increasing your stamina and forging mental toughness.
Habits That Build Mental Strength
With practice and determination, you can train your mind to hold up under pressure.
Identify your personal triggers and heal the trauma. It is proven that a person with unhealed trauma, who is chronically angry or paranoid or is easily triggered, will experience major life changes and crises much worse than a person who has done healing work.
Accept discomfort as normal. When you avoid conflict and attempt to prevent emotions that you don’t want to feel, it intensifies the eventual unpleasant feelings. Let go of your resistance and experience the relief that comes with facing frustration head-on. Life is going to bring disappointment. Accepting this as a fact can help you relax and know that most situations turn out fine, even if they don’t turn out exactly the way you planned.
Focus on your priorities. When channeled efficiently, your focus and energy are formidable. When we are scattered and unorganized, we are literally leaking energy and wasting our ability to get done the things that matter. Devote your time and energy to activities that are meaningful and fulfilling for you.
Identify your deep inner motivation. It’s easier to work hard on yourself and on your work when you’re doing it for reasons that you find compelling instead of trying to please others. Dig deep. Take the time to identify your heart’s desires. Often, my clients will find motivation in healing relationship resentment and family drama so that the next generation of children has the ability to be drama-free.
Build your confidence. High self-esteem and mental strength naturally go together. Pursue goals that are realistic and ambitious. Surround yourself with family and friends who encourage you. Work hard at the things that make you feel accomplished and that matter.
Condition your body. Physical fitness and overall health strengthen your mind as well as your muscles. Exercise regularly and incorporate more activity into your daily routine. Eat nourishing whole foods and go to sleep on a consistent schedule.
Commit to a positive attitude and productive thinking. Banish stress by noticing and managing self-talk to affirm your worth. When negative thoughts show up, acknowledge them and then quickly move on to a reframed, neutral, or positive alternative.
Delay gratification. Good things are worth waiting for. Allowing yourself to wait — and sometimes to go without — is good for your brain, nervous system, and long-term resilience. If you give in to every impulse and placate your every whim, your mind and body get bored, become complacent, and can show up to others as unappreciative.
You can’t avoid challenges in life, but you can respond to them in a way that ensures that you get the best outcomes possible. Build up your mental strength now and thrive under harsh, sad, or shocking conditions. Believe in yourself, and you will be able to move beyond setbacks and hard times to achieve greater happiness and success.