The Power of Mental Strength and How to Build It
We often talk about mental health, including how it contributes greatly to success, achievement and overall happiness. The concept of mental strength is something we hear less frequently, yet it directly relates to positive mental health. Mental strength, often used interchangeably with mental toughness, is synonymous with traits and qualities such as grit, persistence, resilience, emotional control and positive attitude.
Also read: How to Build Your Workplace Resilience
Inc.com defines mental strength as, “The ability to work hard and respond resiliently to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.” This is very much from a career-focused perspective; however, it really can be applied to anything in life. Whether you’re looking to kick goals in your career, take your education to the next level, or tackle a personal target such as a fitness target – mental strength is an integral component to success.
According to author James Clear, mental strength plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business and life. In fact, he argues that it’s more important than intelligence and talent, with studies highlighting that IQ only accounts for 30% of your achievement. In a business and education sense, mentally strong people can demonstrate more consistency than their peers, and they don’t allow small misfortunes, negative feedback or busy schedules to get in the way of achieving their goals.
So, how does the average person build up their mental strength? These are our top five tips for improving yours.
1. Establish relevant goals
One of the keys to being mentally strong is the ability to maintain focus on a desired outcome, without getting too far off track when challenges arise. Goals should be realistic and manageable, both short and long-term. If you do get derailed, try not to let the fallout take over – acknowledge your emotions, remember what motivated you to set the goal, and keep on pushing.
2. Listen to yourself and act
We all know when we’re tired, overworked or stressed, but how often do we listen to these feelings and really take a step back? When this happens, take the time to relax and recharge, as, in turn, it will contribute to your strength. The more in-tune you are to your feelings, the easier it will be to catch negative or unhelpful thoughts, allowing you to practice real self-care.
3. Use your mental energy wisely
No human has an unlimited supply of mental energy, so it’s important not to waste your limited supply on things outside of your control. If you continuously dwell on negative problems or things that cannot be changed, you will eventually burn out. Instead, save your energy for productive tasks such as meaningful work projects, building and maintaining important relationships, and learning.
4. Identify and work through negative feelings
We all experience emotions through the good times and the bad – it’s healthy to have such feelings. The key is to building mental strength is to identify when a feeling is negative and to accept it, without being controlled by it. Being able to tolerate uncomfortable feelings takes practice, but it becomes easier as mental strength increases.
5. Challenge yourself
Certain psychologists believe that challenging yourself to do one difficult thing every day can significantly improve mental strength. Not only that, but stepping outside of your boundaries and day to day familiarities will make you more aware, knowledgeable and skilful, all of which contribute to personal growth. Remember – success is not a matter of always winning, but a matter of pushing yourself to do and be better.
Read more: How Perfectionism May Be Holding You Back
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.