November 7

Developing Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness is considered to be a mindset or attitude which determines, in some part, how effectively individuals perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge .... irrespective of the prevailing situation.

In this article I would like to explore ways of developing mental toughness.

So, what does it actually mean to develop your Mental Toughness? How does one develop an attitude or mindset?

If Mental Toughness is a “can do” mindset as opposed to a “can’t do” mindset, how can we move from can’t do to can do?

Albeit that Mental Toughness is a somewhat abstract quality, in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions

The problem is a bit “chicken & egg”. Is it discovering that we can do something that will change our mindset, or does changing our mindset enable us to do the something?

There are three steps in developing your Mental Toughness:

Step 1 The first step in developing your Mental Toughness is defining what being mentally tough means to you. Mental Toughness is made up of four components; Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence and, although they are intertwined, it is difficult to develop them all at once – in fact, you may not even need to develop all of them.

Do you want to feel more in control of your life or your emotions, do you want more “staying power” to see things through to the end, do you want to bounce back more quickly from setbacks or do you want to behave more confidently and stand your ground when needed? If your answer is YES to all of those then you need to set yourself some priorities and break your development down into “small chunks”.

Step 2 Having decided which aspect you wish to develop, you need to go for the “small wins” approach; don’t set your sights on going from “emotionally impulsive” to a kind of Yoda figure in control of every situation overnight or from someone passive to someone assertive simply because you’ve told yourself you are going to be assertive.

There will be times when things don’t work out as you expected, but don’t worry; dealing with setbacks is all part of being mentally tough. Take a look at the setback from the outside and try to see a different perspective, identify what you could do differently next time – and make sure there is a next time! If you are someone who starts lots of things but rarely finishes them, draw up a daily routine where you identify the two “must do’s” each day – the two things, that regardless of what else happens, you need to do today. Go for small things to start with; better small wins than failing and reinforcing your “can’t do it” mindset.

You need to take small steps outside your comfort zone; not so far out that you feel in danger, but just enough to succeed and show yourself that, yes, you can do it.

Mental Toughness is about developing daily habits that allow you to keep to your plan and overcome setbacks.

Step 3 Reflect regularly on your progress; create time to ask yourself what you have learned about yourself, about your emotions, about your thoughts and about your behaviours. Identify and even log or record your progress to show to yourself that things are improving. Developing mental toughness is a process and it's not something you can change easily. It takes a lot of patience and a conscious effort; you can’t simply think your way to becoming mentally tough.

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