What does it mean to be mentally strong?
Well, what it doesn’t mean is that you never struggle with issues like anxiety and depression. We all have to work with these states to some degree at one time or another. The person completely free of them is as rare as an honest politician.
You don’t have to be an enlightened master meditating in a Himalayan cave 24/7 to achieve your own version of mental strength though. With some practice and an intention toward awareness, you can thrive or even soar when life gets challenging.
There are many ways to become mentally strong. Listed below are nine pointers that anyone can incorporate into their lives. And though they may sound like the clichéd utterances of a bleary-eyed new-ager, there is some solid wisdom here.
1. Love yourself first, above everything else.
You might feel a weirdness in your chest at the notion of self love. Don’t worry. A lot of people do. But the fact is, it’s tough to love others if you don’t love yourself.
Consider the oxygen mask on the airplane metaphor. Selfish as it may feel, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to help others.
2. Learn to be both soft and strong.
The ability to see the world in shades beyond black and white is part of being mentally strong.
Many ascribe weakness to things that are soft, and power to things that are strong. But that’s black and white thinking.
It is not only possible, but necessary to be both soft and strong to maintain balance and mental strength. For example, in one moment a mother elephant will gently rub her trunk against her calf as it nurses, and in another she’s fierce and ready to trample any animal that threatens her baby.
Another less esoteric example? Toilet paper.
3. Keep going, even when things get tough.
Giving up is the belief that you don’t have what it takes and cannot endure. It is riddled with self-doubt and hopelessness.
The mentally strong hold on to hope. They know that nothing is permanent and understand that with challenge comes growth.
Yet with that being said…
4. Know when to let go and do so bravely.
There’s a huge difference between giving up and surrendering. Giving up is a loss of belief and hope. Surrendering carries with it the knowledge of a healthy threshold, and not surpassing that.
Because it’s so often associated with giving up, surrendering can be one of the toughest obstacles to overcome. Especially if you’re a control freak. But it’s also one of the most freeing.
5. Fake it till you make it.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
6. Never settle when something isn’t good enough.
Unless, of course, you feel some affection toward being undervalued and enjoy the deep resentment that grows over time like a tumor. You’re allowed.
That’s just not the way of the mentally strong.
7. Say no without hesitation.
If your gut intuition is telling you that something isn’t right, then it isn’t right. Those who are mentally strong know they have the option to reject anything that isn’t right for them.
They are acutely aware that “no” is not a four-letter word.
8. Eliminate toxic people from your life.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Especially if one of the toxic people is currently camping on your couch.
But it can be done.
Toxic people will stay in your life as long as you continue to give them what they want. It may start with your money, your companionship, your car. But eventually it will become your time, your attention and ultimately your energy.
That’s a heavy toll on your mental state and you don’t need it.
9. Praise yourself rather than waiting for other’s approval.
By praise I’m not implying adopting a god(dess) complex.
But appreciating oneself for achievements or positive actions is part of a mentally strong regimen. In other words, it’s healthy.
This is quite different from using self-flagellation and -degradation to draw positive comments on the contrary. That would be less healthy.
So try this.
Rather than attempt to tackle all of these suggestions, simply think of them as single steps toward becoming mentally strong. Consider them baby steps. Use one or several as mantras. Take them in any order you want.
And remember that you’re building a foundation toward becoming more mentally strong.
Take the necessary time and care to make it solid and it’ll definitely pay off.
What do you do to stay mentally strong? Share your stories.
Featured photo credit: Eyes by Dboybaker via flickr.com