What is mental strength?
The way we think affects how we feel. The way we feel affects how we behave. How we behave affects the way we think.
It’s a continuous, reinforcing cycle that can give us amazing high points or deep low points. We need to learn how to intervene when we are in a downward cycle to rewrite the narrative.
🤔 Thinking. Putting things into perspective and showing self-compassion are great skills. For example, try reframing failure as a learning opportunity.
🧠 Feeling. Label your emotions to understand the underlying causes.
👊 Doing. Complete the cycle by taking productive action. Doing something that is hard to start but feels great afterwards is the crux of mental strength.
Embracing difficult feelings
Embracing difficult feelings is difficult. It’s obvious when you say it. And when something is difficult we need good strategies for dealing with it.
Avoidance and blocking of negative emotions can lead to blocking all emotions. So, it’s important to learn how to manage all our emotions.
Here’s one strategy. To embrace difficult feelings, you have to understand them first. This means giving them a label – the more specific the better. There might even be a few different feelings coming together.
Now, that you understand your feelings, you can work to meet unmet needs.
Develop mental strength routinely
The best way to develop mental strength is to do something that is good for you when you lack motivation. Motivation is just a feeling and, like everything feeling, it comes and goes.
The first step is to notice the urge not to act e.g. ‘I don’t want to go to the gym today.’ Then, understand why you are performing the action e.g. ‘I want to go to the gym to improve my fitness.’ Finally, make a choice e.g. ‘I will/ won’t go to the gym today.’
Start by practicing with something small and build up to more difficult goals. A few easy wins could be:
- Don’t look at your phone when you’re in a queue;
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day;
- Hold food in your mouth before biting it;
- Setting a timer to work for 10 more minutes when you feel like you are getting distracted;
- Sending a message you’ve been putting off for a while.
Three great resources to learn more
Dr Julie Smith – On Purpose with Jay Shetty
A great introduction to how you can start to understand your mind! Offers practical tools and thought provoking insights!
David Goggins – Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu
An INTENSE man but his experience and knowledge is beyond value able! An ex-navy seal teaches you how you can go beyond your limits mentally and physically
Interesting read into how to build mental toughness, why it’s important and how it can transform your life
Need more support?
If you’re struggling with your mental health, please seek support from a professional. Mind has some fantastic resources.