Published on May 22nd, 2020 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Cultivate Mental Toughness In Uncertain Times
By Renee Goyeneche–
In the ordinary course of events, our lives hold a routine set of demands. Good and bad times ebb and flow, and we learn to juggle the occasional bump in the road as a matter of course. In recent weeks, however, we’ve all seen a redefinition of life on an unprecedented scale. The shifts we’re seeing have far-reaching implications on nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s essential to understand the importance of being strong and resilient in the face of adversity.
The American Psychological Association defines mental resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” Adapting is key, because we either bend or break under stressors and challenges. Resilience allows us to cope with difficult situations. It allows us to survive them.
Mental toughness takes this idea one step further: it allows us to move toward our goals, irrespective of circumstance. The mentally tough don’t just survive adversity, they face the challenges head-on and find ways to thrive.
Here are 7 ways you can build mental toughness:
1) Make a realistic evaluation of the situation.
Life doesn’t always develop according to plan, and sometimes we’re forced to reevaluate our expectations. Certain goals may still be attainable, while others may have to be modified. It may even make sense to construct an entirely new set of objectives. It’s up to you to reframe your new “big-picture” in a way that prevents stagnation and moves you closer to where you want to be. Break big tasks down into a series of smaller, more manageable steps, and give yourself credit for completing them along the way.
2) Know your reactions.
Apply your emotional intelligence to the problem. Emotions affect actions—and reactions—so it’s important to understand their impact. Consider the types of events that have been most stressful for you in the past. What worked best to mitigate those effects? Create a list of go-to solutions that make dealing with difficult circumstances easier and put it to use when you feel your emotions gaining the upper hand.
3) Set your perspective.
Keep a positive mindset and resist the urge to blow an issue out of proportion. If you treat a challenge as the opportunity to problem-solve rather than a crippling, insurmountable crisis, you’re much more likely to find a simple work-around. Your solutions don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes “good enough” really is good enough.
4) Step outside your boundaries.
Overcoming self-imposed limits cultivates a sense of confidence and allows you to take greater risks that garner greater rewards, so challenge yourself. Boundary breaking doesn’t require a complete transformation of your life; you can start with something small that brings you closer to your goals and work your way up to more significant challenges. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable speaking in public, sign up for a class that requires it or volunteer to run a meeting at work. Try to do something that feels hard every day.
5) Take responsibility.
If you’re struggling under adversity, take a look at how you may be contributing to the difficulties. Is there a reason you’re failing? Hold yourself accountable; there’s a difference between making excuses for missteps and looking for an explanation for them. If there’s a shortcoming on your part, acknowledge it so you can do better next time. Let constructive feedback be your ally. Pay attention to what others are telling you about how to improve and apply it to your best advantage.
6) Find the value in struggle.
Many of life’s tasks, both personal and professional, are unpleasant but necessary to move toward your goals. Remind yourself that the things you’re doing have a purpose. Perhaps you’re working around the clock to launch a new business that’s been a lifelong dream. Or you’re a single parent, tackling the responsibility of being the sole provider and primary influence in your children’s lives. There’s no denying the difficulty in these situations, but the goals are admirable and the rewards immense. It’s important to recognize the value of your sacrifice. Use that sense of purpose to drive ahead.
7) Utilize your community.
Seek out mentors, cheerleaders, and accountability groups. They’re invaluable tools to help keep you on track, providing physical, mental and emotional resources in times of need. Let go of the mindset that the strong don’t need help—it’s the strong that recognize their need and reach out for it. Once you do, you’ll find the benefits are twofold. You’ll gain assistance for your immediate issue, and you’ll learn the full extent of your resources for when the next challenge arises.
We cannot exercise control over all the difficult circumstances in life, but we can retain a sense of stability by controlling how we respond to adversity. Feeling strong and balanced allows you to adapt to changing circumstances more readily and find creative solutions to problems, which is key in achieving your goals, regardless of what they may be.
Article photo by iStock-ismagilov