There are people we admire in life for the qualities that we don’t have. Mental toughness is an interesting one because we perceive toughness to be strong and impermeable. But even the supposedly toughest people out there have problems with their armor. And this means that if we are looking to become mentally tough, either to cope with the rigors of being a parent or just to look after our mental health better during difficult times, there are things that we can do to be mentally tough without being the cliched strong-willed immovable object.
Learn From Your Mistakes
This is something that most of us struggle with. When we make a mistake, it’s usually something that we fear doing. But those who are tough do not fear these mistakes. We have to remember that making mistakes is a part of being human. When we start to look at people who are able to transform a mistake into a lesson in life, it’s these people that we need to view in high regard. When you look at someone in a mentally tough profession such as a doctor or personal injury lawyer, these people will always learn to refine skills over time. Something like law is a practice and it’s something that they need to do to develop skills to help them in intimidating environments. No lawyer was born ready to stand in front of the most intimidating judge, they had to learn tactics. When we start to think about the fact that we can make mistakes but also learn from them, this will be far more beneficial for us than trying to avoid making mistakes. We seem to live in a world where people try their best to avoid making mistakes or even cover them up. Naturally, it depends on the mistake, but if we make a mistake and we own up to it, this is a key signifier of strength.
Cut Out the Complaining
Sometimes we feel that we need to vent our spleen. Complaining about something may seem like we are getting something off our chest but what can happen is that we end up hearing our complaints so much that it becomes a negative cycle. It becomes part of our attitude. When we get into the habit of complaining and we feel the relief associated with complaining about something, we think we are letting off steam in a healthy way. But complaining about stuff is very simply the fact that we cannot cope with changes. This means that you have to learn to adapt. Complaining is the tip of the iceberg. If you complain it will become the shortcut to bringing your attitude down. By learning to control your attitude towards situations, this will give you a baseline of strength. We all encounter problems in life but if we continue to view them as problems and nothing else, we will never find the solution. Learning how to problem solve something small that is a constant in your life is the best place to begin. Once you feel the achievement of solving a problem, you can begin to tackle bigger ones.
Learn to Be Mindful
You don’t need to be spiritual, but when you start to take a step back from any situation, especially those that are stressful, you may understand the benefits mindfulness has in reducing stress and anxiety. We feel stressed because we are in situations that are unknown. We fear the unknown, but this means that we’ve got to find an approach that suits our temperament and attitude. Of course, if we throw ourselves into scary situations all the time, this can make us constantly wired for stress. But if you want to be tougher it’s about gradually turning the dial up. One of the great ways to acclimatize yourself to being mindful in a difficult situation is right there in your bathroom. A cold shower is something that can be horrible but learning to adapt to the cold by gradually turning the dial down on the shower every day means you are acclimatizing yourself to something that you felt you couldn’t cope with before. You are becoming mindful of the situation. It’s also beneficial to incorporate mindfulness tools. Taking 5 minutes a day to quieten your thoughts is beneficial. And you can even purchase items like meditation machines to help get you into a calmer frame of mind. But mindfulness is a tool that encourages us to approach situations with a more open and accepting attitude, which makes us feel more in control mentally.
Practice Makes Perfect
When we look at people we admire for their fortitude, we think they were born with these things. And yes, some people were, but the vast majority of people who acquire the skills you think you don’t have are human beings who had to learn and adapt. There is a massive misconception that we are only limited in what we can achieve, that our brains or our bodies were built for certain things and that is it. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those people who learned how to become better versions of themselves had to understand the right habits, but then they had to practice them. The same thing applies to your life. Whether you have specific goals, whether to achieve something or develop a skill, the one thing that mentally tough people have is that they are consistent with their habits. We have to remember that our brain is a mass of fat and organs that is malleable. Our brain is unable to tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined and this is where something like positive self-talk can come into practice. Because if we start to tell ourselves we can do something, our brain begins to accept this is the reality. And this is something that lends itself to the idea of “faking it until you make it.” But also this is where Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and reframing your thoughts can come into practice. If we believe that we are only capable of certain things, this is what they call a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you want to be tough you have to tell yourself you are tough.
If you want to achieve something, you only have to get over one obstacle: yourself.