The wealthiest and the most successful people are mentally strong. They understand that emotions play a driving factor in the decisions of everyday life.
In business, you need to have the mental dexterity to make tough calls. At work, you need to be mentally strong to do the right things and grow in your career. In life, you need mental toughness to sail through the hardships life throws at you.
Many people end up sabotaging themselves by letting minor issues affect their mindset. Over the years, I have realized that knowing how to grow mentally strong is the key to success. Knowing how to worry about things you can control and clearing your mind off your rest can not only make you a better person but also keep you happy.
In short, learning how to grow mentally strong helps you in various aspects of your life.
- 15 tips to help you learn how to be mentally tough:
- 1. Pause for 5 seconds before replying when angry
- 2. Stop blaming others and circumstances
- 3. Accept mistakes
- 4. Question your own belief and ideas
- 5. Practice active listening
- 6. Appreciate people
- 7. Stop making unnecessary remarks
- 8. Stop contradicting the opinion of others
- 9. Read more
- 10. Be comfortable saying I don’t know
- 11. Make tough decisions
- 12. Spend 15-30 min a day thinking
- 13. Balance emotions and logic
- 14. Accept that you need to improve
- 15. Stay away from gossip
15 tips to help you learn how to be mentally tough:
Different people will provide different tips on how to be mentally strong. While the exact tip might vary, the context remains the same.
1. Pause for 5 seconds before replying when angry
Anger as an emotion can drive a human being to unexpected reactions. Have you faced a situation where you said something and smacked your forehead thinking, “Why did I say that?”
Anger can trigger an unnecessary comment or action which can ruin relationships. What you do or say in a fit of rage can be held against you forever. At times the damage is beyond repair too.
If you have wondered why did you suddenly lose your cool, you should know that you went through an Amygdala Hijack.
When you are angry, your brain short circuits the decision making process causing a sudden reaction. Such a reaction is called an Amygdala Hijack. You lose control over your logical thought for a few moments when you turn angry.
Pausing for 5 seconds helps you regain your composure. As you regain your composure, your brain starts working normally. Your thoughts apply logic and reason because you’re mentally stable.
Those 5 seconds can prevent unnecessary actions or hurtful statements. Your journey towards learning how to be strong minded involves being able to control impulsive reactions.
To be mentally strong, do not let your amygdala take over when it does not need to.
2. Stop blaming others and circumstances
When things go wrong, blaming another person or the situation helps you boost your ego. If you do so, you overlook a fault in yourself.
You might assume you do not blame others but we all do in simple ways we do not realize.
For example, let’s say you have a co-worker whom you don’t get along with. You believe his lack of support hampers your growth. Do you think the situation is completely the co-worker’s problem? Guess what? Your co-worker does not get along with you because of some of your behavior too.
Have you tried to build a better rapport with him? Did you ask him how his weekend went by? Have you wished him on his anniversary? Have you brought him a donut for no reason? I doubt it.
By blaming your co-worker, you fail to look at your own flaws. When you blame and criticize others, you are avoiding some truth about yourself.
For every single problem, you can find an area where you could have done better. Yes, every single one, no exceptions. This applies to work and in life.
3. Accept mistakes
Sometimes when a problem occurs, you realize halfway through that you were at fault too. But your ego prevents you from accepting your fault.
For example, when your partner complains about you not giving enough time, you hit back with how you spend effort on the relationship. This turns into a heated debate where you both complain about each other. Somewhere deep down you know you have not given enough time, but you do not want to accept it. As a result, the discussion turns into an argument instead of a conversation.
Accepting your mistake turns the situation into a healthy talk where you can talk about fixing the problem. Telling your partner that you have been busy and asking what could you do to change her opinion would help your relationship a great deal. As a bonus, you also do not have to deal with the frustration of the debate either.
Accepting a mistake without any drama is a trait common among the mentally strong people.
4. Question your own belief and ideas
Once we have a belief, we strongly stick to it.
For example, once you support a sports team, you will remain an avid fan forever. You support them irrespective of their actions. As a fan, this is the right thing to do. But, you might also turn a blind eye to their flaws. You find a way to justify their actions even if they were incorrect.
Such actions may not mean anything when it comes to your favorite sports. But you exhibit similar behavior about your own ideas too. For example, if you believe buying a certain stock is a good investment you justify the belief even if you find data that proves otherwise. Such behavior is called the confirmation bias.
Take a moment to ask yourself if you are defending your belief by turning a blind eye to facts.
5. Practice active listening
When 2 people talk, both keep thinking about what to say next. During this thought, you miss listening to the other person’s point of view. Even if you do, you fail to process it enough.
Listening to understand differs significantly from only listening.
Whenever you have a conversation with a person, focus all your attention on what the other person has to say, not what you must say next. If you need time to frame your words, pause a few seconds before responding. You will notice wise people taking a few seconds before responding. Apply the same.
When you listen actively, not only do you understand the other person better, but you also come across as a skillful communicator.
6. Appreciate people
No deaths have been reported due to a thank you ever because appreciating hurts no one. By taking a moment to thank people, you not only make the other person feel better but you also feel good about yourself.
Not always do you need a long conversation or a lengthy email to appreciate somebody. You can thank people on more subtle occasions. Appreciating a waiter at a restaurant with a smile will make his day. Thanking an Uber driver will cheer him up.
Find little ways to appreciate the good around you. You do not have to wait for people to do something remarkable to utter thank you. You can make others happy in little ways if you choose to.
7. Stop making unnecessary remarks
Passing a remark on a friend or a co-worker might help you laugh but it helps nobody. Talking about a person behind his back does no good to anyone either. Such remarks can only hurt people.
By making uncalled remarks, you spread poisonous negativity not only for the other person but also for yourself.
If you have something to say about a person, have a conversation with the person and explain what you think.
8. Stop contradicting the opinion of others
There are genuine situations where you need to disagree with another person. But you contradict the opinion of others even when it is unnecessary.
When your friend says “I love the food from Mc Donalds,” there is no need to contradict his opinion by saying Mc Donalds sucks or there are many other restaurants with better food. You can explain your point of view only if the statement impacts you.
For example, if you are deciding the place to order food, you can explain your thought with courtesy saying, “I am not really a fan of the burgers from Mc Donalds.”
More than half the time, you contradict to seem superior. You try to prove your idea because you believe your opinion is right and the other person is wrong.
If you notice, you will provide a reason why when you contradict an opinion. That reason is you trying to prove yourself right.
But it does not always have to be one vs the other. Your friend might love the burgers from Mc Donalds and you might hate them. You do not have to reach a consensus on who is right.
You can both have the right opinion and agree to disagree.
9. Read more
You only have 24 hours in a day and you are only at one place at a time. Even if you put in the best effort to learn, there is a limit on how much you can learn each day by yourself.
Reading books exposes you to the lives of others. You understand what they went through, the mistakes they committed and the tricks that guided them to success.
Many of the amazing books are written by people who attained peak levels of success. Taking a leaf out of their book helps you understand the world better, avoid mistakes, grow mature and improve as a person. Here are the unknown benefits of reading books.
One person explained what books do to you with the perfect metaphor. Consider each book as a dot. The more books you read, the more dots you have. The more dots you have, the easier it is to connect the dots.
Read books on diverse topics and you will have more dots to connect. If you do not know which book to read, use the book suggestor below.
10. Be comfortable saying I don’t know
When someone asks you “You must be aware of ….”, how many times have you said yes even when you had no clue about it? Don’t lie now.
You and I have pretended to know something we don’t. We feel ashamed to admit that we do not know because it makes us look inferior and hurts our ego.
You hesitate even more to admit that you do not know when the topic is around your area of expertise. But if you pretend to know things, you lose an opportunity to learn something.
Saying I don’t know shows how confident and humble you are.
11. Make tough decisions
When you face a difficult problem, you tend to not take any action instead of making a tough decision. For example, if you hate your job and switching to a different job is difficult, you prefer not taking any action. You do not want to put in the effort and as a result, you accept living with the job you hate.
To get the best out of life, you need to make bold decisions. You do not have to type in your resignation letter right now, but you can at least decide to start putting in the effort to change your life.
You cannot learn how to be mentally strong and fearless without making tough decisions.
12. Spend 15-30 min a day thinking
We make mistakes every day and learn new things. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on yourself. You can think about:
- what can I improve as a person
- what mistakes do I make often
- how could I grow in your career
- how can I be a better partner
- how do I live the life of my dreams
You can even ask yourself how do you become mentally stronger.
Spend the time only to think positive and generate ideas. Do not use those minutes to blame yourself or worry about the problems you have.
13. Balance emotions and logic
You should make some decisions based on logic. Likewise, in some cases, emotion holds more value. The problem is – we make an emotional decision when we should have applied logic and a logical decision when we should have considered the emotion.
Selling a depreciating stock is a logical decision but our emotion of losing money takes over. Spending more time with family instead of work is the right emotional decision, yet we choose the logic of putting in extra time working to earn money.
If you have to serious about learning how to grow mentally strong, know where to apply logic and when to consider emotion.
14. Accept that you need to improve
You and I tend to overestimate our abilities. Our ego prompts us to think we already do our best. When we make a mistake we blame the circumstances but when things go right we pat ourselves on the back for our awesomeness.
No matter how good you are, you will find people better than you. Accept that you need to do better and try to improve every day. Look at improvement as a lifetime journey than a destination.
Accepting ignorance is a common attribute of the strong minded.
The only thing I know is that I know nothingAristotle
15. Stay away from gossip
“You know what Mark was saying the other day…”
Can you tell me one good thing which comes out of such loose talk? Gossip is your way of complaining, blaming and exhibiting jealousy. Whatever Mark said or did is none of your business unless it was about you.
When you have a personal grudge against a person, bringing up a topic of gossip about the person helps you feel better.
Sometimes you do not start the gossip but a friend or co-worker does. If someone tries to involve you in a gossip ask them “Why are you telling me this?” Most people will leave you alone because they will not have an answer.
If you learn the tips to be emotionally strong and independent, you have only taken the first step. When you apply what you know and improve, you take a step forward towards growing mentally tough.
Learning how to grow mentally strong is a slow journey and the results might take a few years to be visible. Trust the process and enjoy the journey. You will turn emotionally strong and independent over the due course of time.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.