Being mentally strong means adapting well to the stress, adversity and tragedy that you encounter in your life. It doesn’t mean that you are immune to pain or suffering or sadness but it does mean that you can develop the resilience to bounce back from these tough experiences.
Different people find different ways to develop their mental strength, dependent on their situation, past experiences and the sacrifices that they are prepared to make to achieve their goals and dreams. What works for one person may not work for another so there is trial and error involved to find the right approach for you.
But while in that sense it is random, the simple but scientifically valid MTQ 4C’s mental toughness framework, developed by Clough and Strycharczyk, provides a sound framework on which to build greater mental strength through resilience and confidence. This will enable you to become committed, tenacious, resolute, able to deal with unforeseen circumstances without undue stress and not give up. You will develop the mindset to be open to opportunity and assume the confidence to take full advantage of opportunities that come your way.
In this post I have listed below some approaches that correspond to the Control aspect of the 4C’s framework that comprises Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.
There is strength from being in control of your own destiny and managing your life through its ups and downs, rather than letting things happen and feeling a victim of circumstances beyond your control.
For many this control starts with your physical and emotional health; taking good care of yourself though regular exercise, balanced diet of healthy food, plenty of water, sufficient sleep and relaxation to recharge your batteries. For others the spiritual side of having a connection to something greater than you provides the foundation. This can include faith, meditation or spending time in nature.
Building on this with a life plan provides the meaning and direction, together with the structure and ideal pathway required to get you there. When things go wrong or become difficult which they inevitably do, this pre-determined plan builds your resolve to keep on going to achieve your goal.
To many it is a personal sense of identity that provides the key. Understanding who you are, what you stand for and why, creates boundaries that help you to protect what you believe in or let go of the small stuff that really doesn’t matter as much in your grand plan.
Having perspective is also a critically important life skill. Understanding that the ‘here and now’ is everything and yet nothing. That you want to live in the moment to make the most of the present but recognise that in a month or a year this moment will most likely be insignificant and forgotten. Changing your perspective and adjusting your attitude so that you become less self-absorbed and able to take those small, everyday stresses in your stride, helps provide a solid foundation with a healthy degree of flexibility.
This keen sense of self-awareness and understanding who you are and what you stand for helps you stay calm and less likely to “lose it” even in the most stressful situations.
Learning to manage your emotions is another important part of becoming mentally tough. Whilst you may not always be able to control what happens in life, you do always have a choice about how you react. This is something you can learn to develop and manage by understanding and then avoiding the flash points that ignite your emotions.
Learning to manage all aspects of your life better makes you mentally stronger and so more resilient to withstand the challenges you face. In the next post in this series I will outline some of the strategies related to the Commitment C within the 4C’s framework.