Mental Resilience

As we delve further into our discussion on resilience, it makes sense to explore mental resilience on its own. Also called mental toughness or grit, mental resilience is our ability to respond and cope with difficulties so that we can shake them off and move forward, while being “none the worse for wear” as the saying goes. When considering mental resilience, many people think of elite athletes, who often get hours of training each week to deal specifically with this – so that they don’t get knocked down by an injury, a game loss, or a bad call by the referees. However, this is also a good analogy for the struggles we face in our everyday lives, whatever they may be. The point is that we all need to show a little muscle – mental muscle, that is.

At the core

Our mental toughness is most definitely related to our successes. When we can handle pressures, have faith in ourselves, and stay focused on our goals in the face of adversity, then we can accomplish pretty much anything. Take away those abilities and strengths and you’ve got a person curled up in bed and unable to face the day. There are several factors which impact mental resilience, some of which include:

  1. Problem-solving skills. These are a key factor of mental resilience, as they allow us to tackle daily problems and come up with the best course of action. When we use this resourcefulness, so many options open up, allowing us to stay on track. This flexibility in our thinking allows us to consider and weigh options and alternatives.
  1. Managing expectations. It’s important to learn to manage expectations and define them. Although we hope that unwanted surprises won’t come our way, they still appear more often than we like; the key is being prepared. As I shared in an earlier blog, when we mitigate risks, we address the potential threats that can get in the way of our goals – face on. The more we face adversity, the better we get at being mentally resilient.
  1. Focus on changing the things we are willing and able to change. Don’t waste mental capacity or precious time in constantly stewing over the things we cannot change. Remember too that challenges are usually temporary, and don’t define us or the situation. Mentally resilient people can ‘blow off’ adversity and not dwell on its recurrence.
  1. Learn to avoid traps that spiral us into mental worry and rumination. When we keep moving forward, we don’t fall into the traps and downward spirals of defeat. Although it’s easy enough to say, “just push through it”, if we reminded ourselves that the current difficulty is temporary and nothing to get down about, we’re better able to outlast and overcome the obstacles in our way.

A bit of grit

Finally, we all need to learn to shift the lens we see things though and challenge our own beliefs when needed. Perspective is important. We also need to visualize ourselves being successful – and by all means – get OUT of our comfort zone. Staying in a comfort zone is a goal-crusher, plain and simple.

Throughout our lives, we all face a range of challenges and adversity. All the money, resources and intelligence in the world can’t help us get through a tough time as much as being mentally resilient can! For example, think of someone who thought they were getting a work promotion but didn’t. An individual who was not very resilient would take this as a serious blow, would likely find ways to blame themselves or others, and may give up on trying in the future. A mentally tough person on the other hand, would certainly still feel disappointed, but look for opportunities to get that promotion next time, and look inwardly at what might have caused the rejection – without dwelling on themselves or the situation for very long. A little grit is all that’s needed in those situations to lift that chin up. When we choose not to get bogged down with stress, disappointment, blame, and worry, but instead learn to shake it all off and get focused, we can start fresh and move forward.

“Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.”—Unknown