Mental Strength

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Mental Strength

Resilience goes beyond the ability to crack or not crack under pressure.

 

| By Camilo Sáenz-Moncaleano, PhD, Sport & Performance Psychology | April 2, 2020 |


Having a strong mentality seems to be a shared characteristic among successful people and those who seem to make the most out of difficult circumstances. However, contrary to what most people think, if we dig deeper into their stories or read their biographies, we will see that this ability to recover from adversity is not something they were born with – they have worked (and really hard!) to obtain it. Most of those who we admire have experienced difficulties, struggles and failures along their journeys.

Even when we are able to maintain high levels of energy and flexibility, sometimes life throws things at us that are difficult to manage. Indeed, it is not a matter of if, but when. Although we may repeatedly have wished for a life free from challenges and troubles, the reality is that if we look back, we will realize that it is precisely those moments in which we have fallen and then risen that have made us who we are today. The saying that crises are opportunities in disguise holds true – they are opportunities to learn something and make us a bit stronger.

In this sense, one of the key elements to having a meaningful and successful life is knowing how to overcome challenges and setbacks. It is about knowing how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again when things do not go the way we planned. This is what we call being mentally stronger, or in the woods of Steven J. Covey who wrote the best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, we must learn to “sharpen the saw”. Whenever we are mentally strong and have sharpened our mind, we are more likely to have a more meaningful and balanced life, which will potentially lead to future success.

One of the terms that are discussed frequently when we talk about learning from mistakes or getting back to our feet, is resilience. There are many definitions of the word, but let’s go back to the source. The word resilience originally comes from material sciences (physics) and describes the ability of a material to absorb energy when placed under pressure, and how it can release that energy upon unloading without creating a permanent distortion. One good example of a highly resilient object is a spring in our bed: we can put pressure on it and it will immediately bounce back without any damage done.

This definition may sound similar to the one for flexibility that we used before. And it is true: for an object to be resilient, that usually means that it is flexible. But resilience goes beyond the ability to crack or not crack under pressure – it also describes the speed with which the object can go back to its initial state. We can translate this into human terms. Some people are without a doubt more resilient than others; there are people who can handle high pressure and bounce back quickly without experiencing major damage or changes, while others may crack under pressure or take a very long time to recover and go back to how they were prior to the stress.

Becoming mentally stronger means cultivating a different mindset in which challenges are embraced rather than feared. This is possible through tuning our brains into a positive mindset, but it does not mean ignoring your problems or thinking that everything is great. It is a matter of approaching adverse situations with a higher degree of self-compassion, allowing ourselves to fully experience our emotions, self-regulate appropriately and cope effectively. This in turn leads to a mindset in which we can learn and grow from adversities or stressful situations.

You may think that this is easier said than done, and you are absolutely right. As with the other two mind muscles, training our mental strength takes times and a lot of effort. Nonetheless, with the proper guidance we can work and enhance our resilience and mental strength proactively. We do not have to wait until we have to face big challenges or setbacks – it will probably already be too late by then. In our current world, which needless to say can become very hard to manage sometimes, there is a need to train this. We need to have a stronger mentality to handle life, and we are here to help you through that journey.

You have come to the place where you can start working proactively on making your mind stronger. You have come to Upotential: the gym for mental fitness.

– Published on April 2, 2020

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