Becoming Mentally Stronger
There’s no way around it, life can be hard. While Ive always found a way to bounce back after the shit hit the fan, I haven’t always known how to be strong at the moment the shit was flying. Luckily I’ve since learned how to be mentally stronger and have developed my own list of eight mental strength exercises that I now use on a regular basis. Here’s the tl:dr version of it
- Become more mindful in your actions and reactions
- Practice bring assertive (not aggressive) in your daily life
- Practice self compassion and self care on a daily basis
- Practice facing and accepting reality
- Remember that you are not your circumstances
- Exhale more
- Practice realistic optimism
- Take pride in your strengths
Do any of these stand out to you? If so, follow your intuition. It’s trying to tell you something.
Scroll down to investigate more.
Become More Mindful
By becoming more mindful of your thoughts, your feelings and the environments you find yourself in, you can begin to understand what triggers you and what you’re really thinking and feeling. By learning to tune into what you’re thinking, and subsequently feeling, you can start to tune into your intuition and let it guide you.
It’s important to acknowledge that the chatter in your head is just that. Chatter. While it may be difficult, if not impossible to shut it off, it’s still vitally important to listen to because it will show you the patterns in your thinking.
And then, there’s that other voice in your head that will argue with you and that tell you to take a chance, to walk away from a situation, exercise or not eat that entire cheesecake by yourself.
This is your guiding voice, the one that’s connected to your intuition and knows what’s best for you. This is the voice that you want to listen to.
If you want to learn to develop mindfulness without meditating, read this post on how you can do that.
Practice Being Assertive
Learn the difference between assertive and aggressive behaviour. Knowing the difference will set you apart by showing people that you not only have self confidence, you also have respect for the rest of society.
If you’re the type of person who tends to stay quiet and are afraid of the negative reactions you may get from people, assertiveness will help you with this.
If people do react badly, it’s important to remember that everyone is reacting as a direct result of their own conditioning and experiences in life. It’s often not you that they’re reacting to.
Instead, their reactions are habitual. As long as you’re stating your needs, wants and desires in a respectful way, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to state them.
If, by chance, someone does react negatively to your assertiveness, the next paragraph may help you.
Years ago, I had a friend that shared some advice with me that he had received when he was younger and shy. What he said is that 1 in 30 people will not like you. So, if you do come across someone who doesn’t like you, for reasons you can’t figure out, then simply tell yourself that this must be that 1 in 30 person. You can then, rest assured, be confident that most other people will not have any trouble with your assertiveness in expressing who you are and what you stand for.
Self Compassion and Care
Make your self a priority. Practising self compassion and self care is essential.
When you give away more of your energy to people and activities than you’re taking in with food and daily rejuvenating activities, it will overload you and cause clinical exhaustion.
In other words, when your output >input = burnout.
If you’re thinking that you can’t possibly give up anything in your life, think again. There’s almost always something that we can either give up or add in to our lives. It may as simple as reducing our sugar intake by a small amount or learning to say no to projects or outings when we know that it’s too much for us.
I know that, personally, I’ve taken on extra activities when I shouldn’t have because I thought that this would be my only chance and I would never get another one like it. What I’ve learned in life is that this is rarely true.
Face reality for what it is. Be honest with yourself about what you have to work with.
If you start from a false place and it will give you a false start and lead you to a dead end.
Admitting to what your circumstances are is a form of tough love ans it may not be easy but it will ultimately be freeing.
Whatever you do, don’t hate yourself for being where you are at this moment in your life. That’s not helpful.
We all have to start from where we currently are and make plans from there. You can’t change your starting place but you can change the path you’re on.
This is everything. No great action or event has ever started from nowhere. There’s always an instigating circumstance. Is this your great starting point?
You are Not Your Circumstances
Separate yourself from who you are and what your circumstances are. Your actions, or maybe someone else’s actions, brought you to where you are now but wherever you are, your circumstances do not reflect who you are at your core.
Your circumstances are merely a reflection of the choices you’ve made in life and who you truly are.
When we’re stressed, we tend to hold our breath more and not fully exhale because of the tightness we feel in our chest.
Breathing out completely activates your parasympathetic nervous system and sends calming chemicals to the rest of your body so that you can think more clearly, increase your problem solving and creative skills while feeling more of a sense of calm in your environment. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/]
Practice Realistic Optimism
Dan Seligman wrote a great book called “Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life“ [https://www.amazon.com/Learned-Optimism-Change-Your-Mind/dp/1400078393]. In it, he writes about the importance of being realistically optimistic.
Practising realistic optimistic doesn’t mean you constantly tell yourself that everything is going to be ok when you’re not sure it will be.
Being realistically optimistic means that you see the circumstances for what they are and you have hope that they can get better.
Without hope, you’re not going to get very far and without being realistic about the circumstances around you, you won’t make much progress.
By acknowledging where you are and having faith that you are capable of being able to take a step in the direction you need to, for things to change, miracles can happen.
Ask yourself, “What is in my power to change and what is one thing (big or small) can I do to start to make that happen?”
Take Pride in Your Strengths
Take pride in what you’re good at; in what your talents are. Others may try to diminish your strengths but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.
Work with your strengths and use them to your advantage.
Everyone has a unique blend of strengths. What’s yours?
If you’re not sure then you may consider working with a life coach to help you uncover them or you can discover them on your own. There are free tests available online that can get you started.
Emotional resiliency can be learned by anyone at any stage in life. It’s never too late to learn and the more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it. Soon you’ll find yourself navigating life in a whole new way that benefits not only you but everyone around you.