“Mental Strength is the capacity of an individual to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of their ability, irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves (Clough, 2002).
Building mental strength is fundamental to living your best life. Just as we go to the gym and lift weights in order to build our physical muscles, we must also develop our mental health through the use of mental tools and techniques.
Optimal mental health helps us to live a life that we love, have meaningful social connections, and positive self-esteem. It also aids in our ability to take risks, try new things, and cope with any difficult situations that life may throw at us.”(PositivePsychology.com).
Being mentally strong is important for us to thrive in this world. It helps build confidence. It helps us cope with struggles, It helps us live a more fulfilling life. It also helps us find inner peace. It allows us to live a more satisfying life. It is important to find habits to help build one’s mental strength. There are plenty of ways to do so. I will list and discuss 9 ways described by Vlogger Clinical Psychologist Julia Kristina. I found her ways to be intriguing and helpful. I will link her video below if you like to look more into it. I will also make a part two of this with some habits I found online that seemed helpful, and from my own experience with gaining mental strength. I will first describe the 9 habits from Julia. I will incorporate my own ideas to what she mentions of course. I really liked her ideas, so I wanted to post them here.
- Compassionate self-talk
How do you talk to yourself? That is an important question to think about. Is it mostly negative, self-defeating, self-blaming, or critical? Do you always put yourself down? Think about it, would you say these things to someone else? Why must you be so hard on yourself? Treat yourself with the same respect as you do to others. Try to tell yourself more nice things. Try to see more positive things in one self. Learn to pick yourself up, rather than bring you down. How you speak to yourself is very important in how one can gain mental strength. If you can’t pick yourself up, and motivate oneself, no one can. Try to tell yourself things that can help you and build you up. “I can do better next time,” I made a mistake, but that is part of being human, I can learn from this,” “I am a wonderful human being,” “I may not be good at this, but I am great at other things.” Try kinder, more encouraging language to oneself. It can only help you become stronger mentally.
- Learn to observe thoughts
Your thoughts don’t define you. They are not based on reality. Thoughts are stories of the mind. We should try to remember this. Try not to allow them to dictate our feelings and behaviors. Just try to say to yourself, “Oh, I have this thought, or that one,” but those thoughts do not define you, others, or a certain situation. Just observe and move on. When we can observe thoughts more, and not allow them to sip into reality. We find more peace and a stronger sense of mental clarity.
- Accept life for what it is
This is something I have mentioned a lot, but it is so important for your peace of mind and happiness to accept life for what it is, imperfect, difficult, full of struggles, most good things don’t come easy, most things aren’t handed to you, loss happens, endings happen. If you refuse to be aware of this, or accept it. Life will be much harder, and more miserable. Julia Kristina mentioned something that really resonated with me, she states, we say “why me?, but why not me?” Bad things can happen to all of us, no one is exempt. No one is invincible. Try to let go of the why me’s, life is not fair talk. It gets you no where, except miserable. Life is the way it is, but it also has plenty of positives and good to focus on as well. Things aren’t black and white.
- Make Choices for oneself
The choices we make should mainly be for ourselves, our growth, and our happiness. We may have to sacrifice ourselves at times, but we shouldn’t all the time. Try not to make choices to please others. The majority of the things you think you have to do. You probably don’t really have to do. Try to let go of the guilt, and if there is a little guilt, so be it. There are times I feel a little guilty for the choices I make, but overall I am satisfied with the choice, because it was a choice I wanted to make. I didn’t do it to please someone else. Allow yourself to have choices with more confidence and less guilt. Being able to make choices for yourself without worries of the outcome is a helpful skill to build mental strength. When you allow yourself to make the choices you want. You gain a certain freedom from it.
- Get out of comfort zone
You got to stop the wishing and waiting game, and just do it. The more you think about it, the less likely you will do it. A little bit of discomfort is good for you. It means you are moving towards growth. The fear and discomfort is from change/something new, but once you get past it, it will subside. The feeling of overcoming your fears will be very rewarding. Are you going to let fear control you, or do you want to take control? Fear will always be there. It is up to you what you do about it. Once you are able to face your fears. It will make you a much stronger individual mentally.
- Accept failures/mistakes/bad decisions
One failure doesn’t make you a failure. Be proud that you took a chance, and put yourself out there. Now you know, and won’t have to wonder what if. Putting yourself out there, allowing yourself to possibly fail builds courage. I once had a job that didn’t work out, did I see it as a failure, no, did I learn from it, yes. Failures, mistakes, and bad decisions are learning tools for the future. No one is perfect, try not to beat yourself up for these things, if you do that, you may never learn from it. Accepting these things leaves space to grow, and cultivate mental strength. Once you accept, and get through the hurdle. It will be easier for you to put yourself out there. If you fail, you fail, but there is always an opportunity to flourish, and that will bring such a rewarding feeling to oneself.
- Learn not to give up easily
Now there are times when things may get too stressful, or if it infringes on your mental well-being, than it is okay to quit, but most of the time people quit, because it may be harder than one thought, one may intimidated, scared, or one may think they aren’t good enough. You also may quit, because things aren’t moving faster than you thought it would. It is important to keep pushing, and not look for a smooth/easy ride. It will be hard at first, but once you get over the initial phases, things will get better and easier. Quitting may create comfort, but that isn’t always the answer. It is always best to push yourself if it is going to better yourself, and help you grow.
- Learn not to look for immediate results/shortcuts
It would nice if things were handed to us, but we got to do the work. Fast results the majority of the time don’t give us the best result. You got to put in the work. You got to realize it takes time to reach your goals, or achieve the things you want. If you try to take the shortcut. You most likely won’t get where you need to go. If you do the work, even taking small steps at a time, you will eventually get where you need to go. The work can be hard and long, but if you take the small steps to get there. You will eventually reach your goals. It takes patience. It takes determination. It takes the awareness to understand that things don’t come fast and easy. Once you are able to cultivate this skill. This can help build your mental strength and perserverance.
- Cultivate healthy boundaries
This is about learning to say no. This is about setting healthy boundaries for yourself, and the people around you. Having a sense of self, knowing your wants, or dislikes, and what you want from yourself and others. You don’t want to be tossed around in life by yourself, or from others. You want to learn to stand tall and strong. Learning what you want out of life, and not allowing others to dictate what you want to do. Its okay to say no, it is okay to feel a bit of guilt, but remember this is your life. You have the freedom to choose what you want to do with it for the most part. If you don’t want to do something, don’t. You may disappoint someone, but you are not responsible for someone else’s happiness. You are responsible for your own.
I am not saying be selfish, and never do anything for anyone, or not do things for someone if they need you. I am saying if you truly don’t want to do something, and it is something you dread, and it doesn’t create a happy atmosphere for you, or maybe there are times you just want to do your own thing, or just don’t want to do it. It is okay to say no. Saying yes all the times seeps happiness away from yourself. It can make life more stressful. It gives you less freedom. Learning to take a stand and say no, helps build healthier boundaries. You don’t want others to walk all over you. Appreciate yourself. Appreciate your wants. Doing this is another step to building mental strength.
I think these habits above are great habits to build mental strength. It can also help one find more happiness and inner peace in one’s life. I have implemented all of these habits and it has done wonders for my anxiety and mental health overall.