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 in finding 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 second post of the series I have listed below some approaches that correspond to the Commitment aspect of the 4C’s framework that comprises Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.
Together with a strong sense of identity, which provides the foundation for your psychological armour, you want to build your resilience through your commitment to setting and then completing reasonable and regular goals.
By setting these meaningful goals and working to accomplish them, step by step, you build your mental strength. This is because getting from one step to the next requires you to apply yourself, working through boredom and pain, and often sticking it out through setbacks, failures or multiple distractions until you’ve made it. This isn’t always easy but the more you practice the more adept you become at achieving your goals.
Part of your regular daily routine should include setting and prioritising your daily goals. If your goals are too large and daunting then break them down into smaller achievable chunks.
Your goals will also often involve making decisions on the right option to take. As there are usually more than one way to handle an issue or opportunity it helps to examine all the options in a calm, composed and objective state, rather than being emotional and reactive.
Either way it is imperative to make a decision and own it rather than letting it fester out of your control.
Also adopt a “stick with it” attitude. Decide that even if you experience some considerable resistance or a setback then you will keep trying to achieve the goal in question.
Declaring this resolve upfront to yourself, and quite possibly to others, helps improve your commitment.
Ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your decisions and so make them ones you can live with.
Once you have set your goals you have got to do everything you can to achieve them and being able to do so will help build your resilience and your overall mental strength.
This resolve not to give up will make you stronger against the negativity and resistance you’ll face. This negativity and resistance can come at you in different ways, both internally through self-doubt and a negative inner voice, and externally as negative feedback or abuse.
Whilst you can’t remove this negative inner voice altogether you can lessen its affect by learning to identify and challenge it. Likewise you can’t control whether or not there will be external resistance but you can control how you will react to it and manage it.
It is important to stay calm under pressure and work to your routine when a situation starts to escalate out of your control and you can feel your emotions threatening to boil over. In the sporting world when the clock is ticking and the pressure is on, athletes place their faith and confidence in the process and routines they have practiced many times before. This approach holds true in all walks of life.
Achieving your goals by making things happen builds positive momentum which develops your own self-belief and confidence but also others’ belief in you too.
It is perfectly natural to fail sometimes and it is important to see these failures as temporary setbacks disguised as learning opportunities.
Review what happened, how you handled it, and how it all turned out. Are you proud of how you reacted? Is there something you would do differently if you could? Be systematic with your review, so you can learn as much as you can for next time. Then, pack it away and move on. Don’t dwell for too long on the loss or failure.
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 Challenge C within the 4C’s framework.