Have you ever wondered what makes athletes perform under pressure? What helps a leader take a tough decision or represent the country abroad? Why are some people better able to accomplish their goals while others can’t? Most people you meet will argue about the skills and expertise of the people, as mentioned earlier.
They might argue that an athlete worked hard and practiced day and night to perform well in a tough competition. A leader must be the most competent person to make high-impact decisions, while people achieving their goals might be more educated and skilled than others.
In all this debate, one can conveniently forget about mental fortitude. Talent and education might take the lead over other factors. Even though they might play an important role in an athlete’s success, they are a leader and a high achiever. But it is not as significant as it is always portrayed. A big part played in the success of all the people mentioned above is mental fortitude. Mental resilience and mental toughness are some of the other ways it is referred to.
What is Mental Fortitude?
Mental toughness is an integral element of success. It lets you stand against adversity and stay rooted under pressure. Formally, it is defined as the ability to make and execute decisions under pressure and uncertainty. It is often possible to break down under pressure, but mental toughness is the force that bolsters your efforts and keeps you a patient under challenging and unknown conditions.
Why is it essential to be mentally strong when under pressure?
When faced with adversity or an unfamiliar condition, the first instincts are to step back or retreat. Lack of resilience and mental fortitude will offer more ways to quick prematurely than stay focused on your mission. For instance, an elite athlete’s ability to handle pressure under tough conditions makes it excel and stand apart.
Let’s suppose a group of athletes have qualified for the finale of a major competition, say Olympics. It means they all had the skills and ability to reach this level of completion. However, at this point, the competition is less about skills and talent. More significant is the ability to handle the overwhelming pressure of the public expectations, personal goals, and above all, the stress of proving one’s self when already in the finale.
So, when life gets tough, take a breath and assimilate the positivity that you have left with and start your quest again; this is what mental resilience teaches us. It might seem complicated, but it is certainly not impossible. The good news is that you grow when everything seems to be going against you during these instances of adversity, and your life spirals into new vistas. Here is what you need to do to develop mental toughness.
- Keep your focus on the goal
How do you think a sportsperson comes back to the same tournament again after losing the last time? It is very much possible that they might have lost hope in the skills due to failure. Regardless of how many punches life hurls, keeping the eye is on the goal lets you keep going. An unwavering resolve for achieving your goal instills mental toughness. Knowing what you need and why you have been putting so much effort is the single biggest predictor of your success. Without a clear vision of the goal and what hurdles you might need to face along the way, you may break down when going actually get rough. If you don’t exercise mental fortitude, you may give up when things don’t happen the way you have fantasized.
- Develop positivity
Positivity drives while a negative attitude creates friction and hampers growth. So, for developing mental fortitude, a positive attitude is an inevitable ingredient. According to a study by Cleveland Clinic, a person has 60,000 thoughts per day, and 95% of them repeatedly occur every day. Interestingly, 80% of the recurring thought are negative. So, no wonder that giving in to these negative vibrations is easier than pulling out of them.
These negative thoughts are a sucker for your mental strength. Carrying them is like hiking with a bag full of rocks. It implies that you have something draining your energy for no reason. So, the hike is already strenuous, and these rocks amplify your difficulty.
Similarly, gaining your strength under pressure is already tiring, and these negative thoughts further enhance the intensity. So, often mental strength is not about developing additional strength to stand against adversity but to save the strength you already have. Won’t it be good to dump your negative thoughts to prevent them from eating you away?
- Get rid of extreme thoughts
Extreme thoughts imply having an All-or-nothing behavior. You either want to have all or get rid of everything. Our brains and body also need encouragement, praise, and reassurance. It can only be done by moderate thinking and behavior. Patting your back for losing 28kgs is way better than getting depressed about not meeting the 30 kg target.
These radical thoughts can drain a lot of your energy. Similarly, considering you a total success or a complete failure won’t let you encourage yourself for what you have achieved. This constant bickering about your limitations or where and how you mess up instead of encouraging you for where you were splendid is a killing pill for developing mental fortitude.
A problem with extreme thinking is that you are either too happy for achieving your goals or too shattered for not achieving them the way you thought. Both are harmful to the health of your mind.
- Go over positive experiences
Our brain is a fascinating organ full of secrets. It has evolved by looking over threats that transpired in the past. The experience of past and potential dangers loom over our brain, guiding its future behavior. Essentially, it has developed by learning from past mistakes.
Your preoccupation with past and future dangers can tire your brain, so it is essential that you reminiscence over past celebrations and where you went really great. Therefore, developing mental fortitude requires giving your brain a break and thinking about the positive experience, and savor them in your mind.
How does mental fortitude positively impact your mental health?
Mental health is the presence or absence of a mental health issue. Mental fortitude positively impacts your mental health by developing an optimistic attitude towards life, relieving stress, and getting rid of undue pressure of unmet desires and unachieved goals.
Stress is the reason for many mental health issues such as depression, substance use problems, sleep issues, and much more. People dealing with mental issues look for quick fixes to their predicament.
Stress can be a motivator too. But when there are so many stressors present in the environment, it can undermine mental health. On the contrary, mental toughness helps you fight the stressors in your life. It ensures greater life satisfaction, self-growth acceptance, positive relations with others, and dealing with adversity in life.
Mental fortitude is more than having resilience. It is about controlling your present situation, having a clear direction of your goals, and how you want to achieve them under undesirable circumstances. Mental toughness is more than just carefully handling a pressure situation; it also alleviates the fear of such a situation.
Your commitment to attaining your goals in the face of uncertainty and adversity is one of the scales to measure your mental strength. Life has rules of its own, and just when we assume we have figured out everything, we get a bouncer. But that’s how life is, unpredictable, unnerving, yet exciting. We can’t always ride on the tame and blame strategy; instead, we need to align the strength we have left to adapt to the situation we are in.