Life can be pretty crazy sometimes, right? We’ve all got a plethora of problems to sort out, conflicts to solve, and tough spots to endure. But why does it seem like some people handle adversity better than others? What’s the secret to maintaining the calm when everyone else seems to be panicking and losing their minds?
Contrary to popular belief, mental toughness isn’t something you’re born with or not. It’s not a luck of the draw sort of thing. That means that everyone can work to improve their fortitude with a little practice and mindfulness when life starts going sideways. Research backs this up. Since the 1960’s, groups like the Beck Institute have pioneered Cognitive Therapy in the hopes of helping people stop negative “automatic thoughts” that impaired their views of themselves, the world, and/or the future. And the results are clear: everyone can change the way they think and develop mental toughness.
Below are five tips for developing your mental toughness in a positive way.
Set your expectations
Mental toughness isn’t about avoiding conflict. While you can’t control every aspect of your life, you can control how you will react. Act like you’ve got everything under control and no one will think otherwise. You might wind up even fooling yourself. Know that time is finite and there’s only so much you can do in a certain period of time. By setting realistic expectations for what you can achieve in a given amount of time, you’re laying groundwork for measurable performance and success.
Strengthen Self Control
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Whether things are going crazy at work or you feel the urge to find comfort in sweets after a trying day, take a moment to step back from the situation. By stepping out of the present, stressful moment and putting it in larger perspective, you can give every crisis its context and respond with a level-headed calmness. By delaying gratification, whether in the form of a cupcake or yelling at someone, you’re helping yourself to see difficulty as a setback rather than an insurmountable problem.
Focus on Yourself
No matter what you do, you’re never going to please everyone. Mentally tough people have mastered the art of focusing on impressing themselves. Love the ensemble you put on but maybe other people can’t appreciate your sense of style? Well, those haters are going to hate. They don’t matter. You should surround yourself with people who can appreciate you for who you are and the unique traits you have to offer, especially since these people are likely ones you can count on when you feel that your mental toughness is starting to get a little weak. Similarly, don’t get down in the dumps by envying other people or being jealous of their success. If you see someone who’s doing things with their life you want to achieve too, focus on how you can get there yourself, rather than how that other person reached their goals easily.
Silence the Negative Talk
Whether it’s expressing envy over someone else’s success or using negative words to describe yourself, your words have immense power to shape your worldview. Don’t let that glass-half-empty viewpoint dominate your thoughts. When you make the effort to see the positive in everything, you’ll find it was there all along. And when you find aspects of yourself or your life that you’d like to change, focus on how you can do that and set measurable goals rather than sitting back and accepting your present as your life’s course. Become your biggest advocate and believe in yourself. Others will follow your lead and believe in you too!
If you have ever watched the Disney Show, Frozen, you will remember Elsa sang, “Let It Go!”
Elsa had it right. Don’t let the past bring you down or be deadweight on your path to success. Everyone has suffered failures and setbacks, but it’s the people who learn from their mistakes or face adversity with a measured approach that come out on top. Don’t let your past dictate what your present and future should look like. There’s no point in lamenting something you can’t possibly change. But the present and future is only what you choose to make of it. Make it something amazing! That commitment to the present will build mental toughness in no time.
Improving your mental toughness takes mindfulness and commitment. It’s not easy, but the payoff and rewards are immense. Take charge of your life and withstand adversity like a pro!