Mental toughness is a measure of individual resilience and confidence that may predict success in sport, education and the workplace. As a broad concept, it emerged in the context of sports training, in the context of a set of attributes that allow a person to become a better athlete and able to cope with difficult training and difficult competitive situations and emerge without losing confidence. In recent decades, the term has been commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sports commentators, and business leaders.
In this article, we will be discussing 5 ways to build mental toughness, and they are as follows;
- Give Yourself a Hug
Most times, we begin to criticize ourselves the moment things don’t go according to plan. Phrases like “You should’ve done this”. “If only you had…” speed through our minds and we end up feeling totally useless and dejected. Research shows that if we were instead to come from a place of self-compassion, where we recognize the difficulty we’re facing and give ourselves the reassurance that we’re there for ourselves, we will find the strength to forge ahead and do the right thing.
- Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
Knowing what we want is the biggest assurance of success. And yet, many of us are not very clear about it. Psychologist Heidi Halvorson, who studies the science of motivation, says that it is by writing down what we want, visualizing it in our minds, and planning the steps we need to take to craft our journey and overcome the obstacles along the way, that we stay realistic, persistent and resilient towards long term goals. Otherwise, we fantasize immediate results and give up the moment we come across hurdles and short-term distractions that is only natural every endeavour.
- Celebrate Past Successes
The human brain evolves to look for threats to its survival. As such, negativity and failures loom large in our minds and get imprinted into our minds, so we can avoid similar disasters in the future. In order for our goodness, efforts and successes to go down into our long-term memory so that we feel confident approaching our goals, we need to spend some time thinking about our little and major wins, positive experiences, and savouring them in our minds all over again.
4. Talk Positively to Yourself
Self-talk is largely subconscious—and yet very powerful, all the same. Just like the inner critic can beat down on us when we fail, it can also talk us out of taking steps toward our goals. “C’mon, there’s no way you can do this”, “Look at her, she’s way better”, “Seriously, let go before you make a fool of yourself” these and many more are all thoughts that preoccupy us when we’re about to approach something important. Remembering that self-doubt is the weapon of the ego, and talking positively to ourselves for our willingness to take calculated risks despite the possibility of temporary failure, is essential in order to bring our full selves to life.
This is the final but most crucial step in building mental toughness. Unless we take action towards our goals, we’ll continue to live in a delusionary world, dwindling between narcissism and depression. Action is the result of accepting responsibility for our lives rather than distributing blame. It is about committing to what we believe in despite external pressures that try to pull us away. And it is about believing, like Roosevelt, that “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”
In the end, it is worth mentioning that mental toughness is not about rigidity towards our goals. It’s about being fully immersed in the situation and thus adapting to changing circumstances. Like a tree that finds strength through the depth of its roots and the suppleness of its branches, we build mental toughness through commitment to long-term goals and flexibility in our journey towards them.