Often related to grit, resilience, and overcoming adversity, the idea of mental toughness is commonly explored in the fields of sports psychology. As an Exercise Science major, much of my classwork explores how the body can become stronger through undergoing an overload of stress. Just like our physical musculature, our mind can be developed in a similar fashion. In the book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, author Amy Morin dives deep into the topic of mental toughness. As a licensed clinical social worker, psychology professor, and psychotherapist, Morin draws from her own experiences and shares life lessons on how to incorporate strategies to develop mental strength.
Although initially published as a blog post, the article was reshared by Forbes and has since amassed over 10 million views worldwide. The idea of mental strength is a wide encompassing topic, but developing mental toughness is a concept that can be related to by many. In her book, Morin describes how to develop mental toughness, by means of reducing negative habits and behaviors. Some of these main points include feeling like a victim, holding resentment for the success of others, and ruminating about the past. In the text, Morin shares her own personal journey, including her experiences with grief, and how she has worked to overcome struggles through mental toughness. Here are 5 Ways To Develop Mental Toughness for your own life.
5. Control your emotions
For some, this one may seem like it’s easier said than done and might prove to be a particular challenge. In her book, Morin discusses the idea of letting others control you. “Retaining your power means changing the way you look at the situation,” Morin writes, “Make a conscious choice to think about how you want to behave before you react to other people. Every time you lose your cool, you give that other person your power” (p. 37).
4. Don’t give up
Time and time again, we’ve heard the old adage—don’t quit. Simple and straightforward, sometimes this one piece of advice is something that we need to hear again and again. In her book, Morin reminds readers to, “view failure as a learning opportunity” and “identify and replace irrational thoughts about failure” (p. 159). Whether it’s a quiz or in the workplace, we’ve all experienced failure to some degree. Morin encourages readers not to give into failure, and to keep going towards achieving your goals.
3. Stop comparing yourself
In this age of social media, it’s all too easy to fall prey to comparing yourself with others around you. However, if you find yourself drawing too many comparisons, you might feel resentment towards the success of others—and that can be very dangerous. In chapter nine of her book, Morin writes heavily about the topic, explaining some key strategies that can help to change your thought patterns. “You have your own set of unique talents, skills and life experiences, so comparing yourself to people isn’t an accurate way to measure your self-worth.” Morin writes, “Instead, compare yourself to who you used to be and measure how you’re growing as an individual” (p. 140).
2. Forget about immediate results
Holding on to expectations can also lead us into spiraling down a dark path. Everyone has bad days—especially where you just want to give up entirely—but it doesn’t mean you should. “Pace yourself so you can be methodical in your attempts to move toward reaching your goals,” Morin writes, “Learning the value of a slow and steady pace can help you gain patience and ensure that you’re on the right track rather than rushing as fast as you can to get what you want” (p.199).
1. Examine your thoughts
No matter who you are, all of these tips can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that developing mental toughness is a constant journey. In the final chapter of her book, Morin writes about taking the extra time to coach yourself through the process. “Examine whether your thoughts are realistic before determining a course of action so you can make the best decisions for yourself.” Morin writes, “Identify beliefs and thoughts that will hold you back, such as those that encourage you to give away your power, waste energy on things you can’t control, dwell on the past, or expect immediate results. Replace them with more realistic and productive thoughts” (p. 203). One of the core tenements of her book is to evaluate your behaviors and thought patterns, and to strive towards avoiding a destructive path. For more, here is a short video from Morin about mental toughness, and how you can work towards developing more mental strength in your personal life.
Written by Jade Esmeralda