There are three main aspects of mental strength: emotion, confidence and behavior. They all play important roles in helping you become a more resilient and driven person.
Being mentally strong requires you to be acutely aware of your emotions. When you understand how you’re feeling, you can be aware of how those emotions might affect your decisions.
Whether you’re negotiating a big deal or giving a presentation to a committee, mental strength helps you understand how you’re feeling. Once you know which emotions are present, you can more easily put yourself in the right frame of mind.
Elite athletes, for example, know which emotional states help them perform best. One athlete might listen to loud rock music to get fired up before the big game. Another might find she performs best after a 10-minute breathing exercise to calm her nervous energy.
Your emotions can greatly affect your personal and professional decisions. When you’re excited about a new opportunity, you might underestimate the risk involved. When you’re feeling sad, you might settle for less than you deserve. Anger can cause you to do or say things you normally wouldn’t.
Understanding your emotions helps you proactively address your feelings so you can make the best choices for yourself. The goal is to be in control of your emotions so your emotions don’t control you.
Researchers estimate you have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts each day. That’s up to 70,000 chances to either build yourself up or tear yourself down. The conversations you have with yourself will either bolster your performance or sabotage your best efforts.
The way you think about each situation determines how you’ll perform. Telling yourself, I can’t do this or I know I’m going to mess up impairs your ability to do your best. Building mental strength will help you have productive conversations with yourself so you can perform at your best.
Developing a stronger mindset involves training your brain to think differently. Instead of trying to avoid failure, focus on trying to win. Rather than believe your self-doubt, keep your focus on doing your best. Over time, your brain will automatically start looking for the positive aspects of every situation, and you’ll find it’s easier to consistently perform better.
Choosing to be productive, no matter the circumstances, is part of being mentally strong. It’s the will to keep going when you’re tired, or to get back up after your fail. The behavioral factor of mental strength tells you to just keep going.
But that doesn’t always mean continuing at all costs. A mentally strong person also knows when to walk away. Sometimes it’s smarter to quit when doors keep closing and obstacles keep arising. Don’t keep going if you’re headed down the wrong path or when the end no longer justifies the means.
An athlete, for example, knows it’s OK to keep running when her muscles are burning because that’s a sign she’s getting stronger. But she also knows she shouldn’t push through the pain if she’s recovering from a serious injury. When you’re mentally strong, pride won’t get in your way. You won’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone but yourself.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, college psychology instructor, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, a best-selling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages. In addition to private consultation, she provides mental strength training to individuals and groups through her Mental Strength eCourse, speaking engagements and workshops.