Resilience: How To Build Your Mental Toughness

by Ben Richardson
19th April 2021    3 Minutes

What Is Mental Toughness?

Mental toughness is the ability to manage your thoughts, emotions and energy in difficult situations.

It means that you don’t suffer from overwhelming stress and anxiety when things don’t go your way.

Mental tough people are better able to deal with hardships and negative events because their mindset continues to be positive. They don’t worry about the future or start criticizing themselves.

Examples Of Mental Toughness

History contains all sorts of examples of mentally tough people.

1- Ulysses Grant

Grant was famously a failure before the US civil war. He had a history of multiple failures and drinking problems which led to him leaving the US Army.

However, when the civil war came he didn’t let that stop him from applying for the army, where he went from success to success ultimately becoming overall commander for the North.

2- Roger Federer

Roger Federer lost in the first round of Wimbledon for three years in a row when he was starting out.

He didn’t let that stop him and went on to become one of the greatest players in tennis history, winning 20 grand slams including seven Wimbledon titles.

How Is Mental Toughness Different From Resilience?

Resilience and mental toughness are slightly different, although they are often used interchangeably.

Being mentally tough is a large part of being resilient but not all of it, being resilient is a broader term.

Mental toughness is a specific personality trait. It refers to how you deal mentally with a setback. If you deal well with setbacks and pressure you are mentally tough, you don’t crumble.

Resilience is the general ability to withstand difficulties and keep going no matter how you do that.

Some people are very mentally tough. They don’t particularly need resilience strategies.

Other people may need to take some time off and manage their stress (because they’re less mentally tough) after a setback before they come back.

Both people are resilient, they keep going, but only one is mentally tough.

How Does Mental Toughness Make You More Resilient?

Being mentally tough means that you don’t feel as much stress and anxiety as someone less mentally tough when you’re in a difficult situation.

You have better control of your thoughts and emotions and so experience fewer negative effects.

This means that you need fewer strategies to manage your stress and mindset to make you resilient.

Mental toughness makes it far easier to be resilient but isn’t the whole story.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Mentally Tough Person?

1- Take Responsibility For Their Lives

Mentally tough people take full responsibility for their lives and actions. They do not blame others to avoid and escape negative situations.

Mentally strong people don’t complain about their problems. They instead focus on finding solutions to their problems.

Taking responsibility for your failures helps you to grow and learn from them, thus increasing mental strength.

2- Don’t Worry About Things That They Can’t Control

Mentally strong people are optimistic and don’t waste their time worrying about things that they can’t control.

They control their attitude towards the problem and try to focus on things that they can control, and ways that they can allow them to prosper.

By focusing on solutions rather than feeling sorry for themselves they give themselves a feeling of agency and control and keep moving forwards.

3- Have Strong Values

Mentally strong people have their own set of clear values. They know what is important to them and set their priorities accordingly.

Knowing what’s important in life and setting their priorities accordingly, helps them to deal with challenges and not giving up on important things.

4- Learn From Their Mistakes And Accept Constructive Criticism

Mentally strong people face their mistakes, examine them and find ways to correct and learn from them. They do not shy away from mistakes and problems.

Similarly, they are able to accept constructive criticism.

They understand that feedback is a part of the learning process, even if it is uncomfortable.

5- Don’t Give Up

Mentally strong people learn from failures. They learn each time and don’t give up until they have succeeded.

Are You Born With Mental Toughness?

Partly.

Everyone is unique and has different skills and traits. Some people are naturally mentally tougher than others inevitably.

However, a variety of research has shown that approximately half of mental toughness is learned.

So everyone can learn strategies to build their mental toughness.

As we noted above you need to focus on the part that you can control if you want to be mentally tough!

5 Techniques To Build Your Mental Toughness

1- Find Your Purpose

Finding your purpose gives you a reason to persevere through hardships and keep going until you get the outcome you require.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Finding your purpose and working to achieve it will help you to keep pushing despite obstacles in your path to success, thus adding mental strength.

2- Be Positive

Build a strong and positive mindset. Be optimistic and look for the good in negative situations.

An easy way to stay positive is to create a mission statement that inspires you.

Make a mission statement and repeat it to yourself during challenges. This helps you to focus on the desired outcome and will increase your confidence to deal with temporary setbacks.

3- Visualize

Create a clear mental image or movie of your desired outcome and visualize it periodically.

Visualizing the process and the desired outcome will increase your motivation and confidence and so help you face hardships.

4- Get Uncomfortable

You can’t make progress and expect to be mentally tougher while staying in your comfort zone.

Mental toughness is built with time by getting out of your comfort zone repeatedly

Get uncomfortable daily and increase your tolerance. Take cold showers, do one more rep at the gym, run an extra half mile.

5- Focus

Mental toughness is developed by keeping your attention on long-term goals and not getting distracted by temporary setbacks.

Don’t let short-term failures, negative feedback, or a busy schedule prevent you from taking the next step towards your goal.

Conclusion

Mental toughness is a skill that is required in all areas of life. Mental toughness increases your resilience as it means you suffer less from stress and anxiety when you face hardships and failure.

Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Being mentally tough means that problems will throw you off less.

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