Building unbreakable mental strength was my ultimate goal for many years. Even as a girl, I knew that with emotional toughness in place, nothing can permanently break me. I set myself up for a task. My mission was to find ways and tools which I can use to become mentally and emotionally strong, in control and ready to face anything. If you think that’s easier said than done, that’s two of us.
In the beginning, I experienced lots of failures and errors since I didn’t understand that being tough or looking tough are two different powers. I was trying to build this image of a “street fighter” which wasn’t working because it didn’t come from within. My second task was to share my experience with anyone I met. I understood that with proper tools and perspective, we all could build ourselves into resilient and strong individuals.
That’s why I want to share with you 5 ways you can develop unbreakable mental resilience and gain control of your life:
1. Increase your tolerance for pain
If you want to effectively train your mind in becoming resilient, you need to increase your tolerance for pain. You do it by letting go of how things should be and accept what is. No expectations, no feeling of entitlement.
It’s a perspective matter. When you feel entitled to something better or easier in life, you are putting yourself in a position where your expectations don’t have to be met. This situation causes hurt and loss of control.
When you are at peace with the ups and downs of life, knowing that some fights are involved, you are gaining more control over how you feel and think. Your tolerance for adversity increases since you are focused more on a solution than on the presence of your pain.
“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” – Shonda Rhimes
2. Create a powerful support system
Most of my life, I believed that I can handle everything on my own. I wanted to become the strongest among all my friends and family, always independent, never needing help. Soon, I found out that this was a terrible idea while trying to develop emotional resilience. The truth is that we need each other, we need our support network
Part of developing mental resilience is knowing when to ask for help and bury the ego. There is strength in admitting that you feel vulnerable and need someone’s hand. Feeling love and support is the best medicine while dealing with hardships. Your role is to choose who you let close to you and who you can trust. Based on my experience, it isn’t hard to figure it out.
3. Take responsibility for your feelings
You and I know that blaming is easy. It takes a weight off your shoulders, it eases the pain and it creates excuses. But it doesn’t build mental resilience. You need to learn how to take responsibility for your feelings when someone else hurts them.
There is a difference between those who are at fault and those who are responsible. Let’s say that your partner cheated on you which broke your heart and caused you pain. It’s your partner’s fault, but it’s your responsibility to deal with it. I know, it may sound unfair, but this is the only way you can build your emotional toughness on a feeling which scares you the most and that’s pain.
4. Learn to be alone
Some of us are pretty scared of being alone. That’s why we keep the TV on even when we don’t watch it, scroll through our feed 45 times a day or always seek some company just to maintain the noise. Spending some time alone allows you to think clearly, without distractions and on a much deeper level.
I am not suggesting that you isolate yourself from others, but time alone, combined with only 5 minutes of meditation, will help you in gaining better control of your feelings and overall mental state. Schedule your alone time. Reserve 1 hour, twice a week just for yourself, your thoughts and feelings. If you haven’t tried meditation, there are tons of videos online which will teach you the basics.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi
5. Love those who hurt you
Two weeks ago, I read an article about letting go. According to Buddha’s teachings, the best way to let go is by loving those who hurt us. At first, it pissed me off. I thought to myself, “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.” Then I took a deep breath, stepped out of my ego and admitted that it made sense.
Think about it this way, when you truly let go, when you forgive, you are gaining more control over your feelings and mindset. And that’s one of the most important things in building mental resilience. You take away the power of someone else who gained it through hurting you. Once you overcome the feeling of anger and the need for retaliation, the action of the other person won’t control you.
Having the right perspective on pain, surrounding yourself with people you can trust and taking responsibilities for your feelings are basic components of your inner toughness. The best thing about it is that even when you fail, you will manage to recover pretty quickly because you are built this way.
Don’t focus on your ego, it’s one of the most common reasons which stops you from growing. Have faith and accept the fact the everything in your life has a purpose. It’s how you choose to use it which defines who you are.
How do you build mental strength? Comment below!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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