Building Mental Strength
To be mentally tough requires discipline. We all reach a critical point in our lives where our mental strength is tested. It could be in a job or in business or relationship. Whatever maybe the challenge, we need to be strong to see things through and take decisive action if we want to overcome it successfully.
Thomas Edison can be viewed as a classic example of mental toughness. When his factory burned to the ground in 1914, destroying one-of-a-kind prototypes and causing $23 million in damage, Edison’s response was simple, “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.” His reaction is the epitome of mental toughness — seeing an opportunity and taking action when things look bleak.
In moments of weakness and crisis, after our body has exhausted all its forces, the only thing we have left that can give us the last push we need is our mental strength. We all have mental power at some level or another and the question is not just how strong it is in general, but how powerful it is in relation to our goals. A person who tries to lose weight and doesn’t give up till he succeeds is a person of mental strength. On the other hand, another person may try to lose weight and gives up after a few months with excuses, without reaching his goal. This person suffers from weak mental strength. Mental strength is like a muscle that can be trained and strengthened.
1) Read biographies of successful people.
We need to read the biographies of those who overcame adversities, challenges and failures and became successful. They are prime examples of mental toughness. We can learn a lot from how they dealt with different challenges on their road to success. It is a lesson in mental toughness as we have seen in case of Edison.
2) Being honest with ourselves
A part of calories we consume is meant to give energy to the brain. When we lie, whether for ourselves or for others, part of the brain must remember the truth, while other parts must remember the lie. In order to keep these two memories, we have to feed our brain with twice the calories to provide the energy needed for the double action. If we are honest with ourselves 100% of the time, we will be less concerned and our brain can operate more efficiently, which will help improve our mental strength.
3) Take care of physical and psychological health.
The type of food we eat affects the brain’s activity and our mental strength. It is hard to be strong and creative when we are physically and mentally unfit. Keep the body well hydrated. Have proper meal times and a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Have at least an hour of exercise and 8 hours sleep at night. It will allow the brain to work best.
4) Accept change
We must quickly adapt to the changing situation. The fear of getting out of our comfort zone or disturbing the status quo can be paralyzing and a major threat to our success and happiness. Mentally tough people seek change that is round the corner and are ready with a plan of action should these changes occur. We need to have an open mind to recognize change and capitalize on the opportunities that change creates.
5) Don’t limit yourself.
We need to do things that we haven’t tried before and experience new things. In addition, we should take risks, slip and fall and try again. If we don’t do it, it will limit us only to the world we know. This will prevent growth and progress toward new things that will improve our quality of life.
6) Learn to say no.
Our inability to say no causes stress, anguish, burnout and mental acidity. When it’s time to say no, mentally tough people do not ‘beat around the bush’. They say no with confidence. As a mentally tough person we should also exert self-control by saying no to ourselves. We should delay gratification and avoid impulsive actions that cause harm.
7) Don’t compare yourself with others.
If we compare, we are insulting ourselves. It gives rise to jealousy and resentment. Don’t let others set your standards. Compete with yourself, not with others and outdo your previous performance. Mentally tough people feel good about what they do and won’t bother about whether they measure up to others.
8) Don’t worry about what others may think.
If you think you are what your friends and enemies say you are, you obviously do not know yourself. Don’t let criticism worry you. Mentally tough people don’t waste their time or energy, worrying about what others may think or letting other’s opinions bring them down.
9) Dealing with difficult people
It can be frustrating and exhausting to deal with difficult people. Mentally tough people control their interactions with difficult people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a difficult person, they approach the situation rationally, without allowing anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the other person’s standpoint and are able to find common ground and solutions to problems. When things derail, mentally tough people avoid letting a difficult person bring them down.
10) Overcome fear of failure.
For success, one needs to overcome the fear of failure first. Many successful people have faced failures before tasting success. Mentally tough people know that in the end, they are more likely to regret the chances they didn’t take, far more than the failures they will encounter. They look at failures as a learning curve and bounce back with more vigor.
11) Forget the mistakes, but remember the lessons.
Being fixated on past mistakes creates and prolongs negative emotions and stress, hindering performance. Mentally tough people forget their mistakes, but never forget the lessons learnt from them. Therefore, they never repeat the same mistakes again. Through this skill, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success.
12) Have presence in the present moment.
The mind tends to dwell in the past or wander into the future, constantly avoiding the present. The mind should be freed from the past, which exists but as memory, and the future, which exists but as worry — a mixture of fear and hope. Mental strength is to be focused in the present.
Enjoyed thoroughly and learnt as well.Thank you Swamiji.
Thomas Edison ‘s example clearly brought out what mental toughness means. The suggestion to read biographies of noble leaders to develop mental toughness is highly appreciated and grateful for. Thanks Guruji for enlightening articles.
All the 12 key lessons provided above to build mental strength are Great – understanding, internalizing, demonstrating and periodical introspection of all these will significantly help us to coach ourselves. Thanks Swamy-Ji for sharing this.