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Published on February 6, 2019

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

When life knocks you down and leaves you feeling battered and bruised, how do you help yourself get back into the game?

The natural reaction is to spiral into panic and worry. Let’s face it, a knockdown can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.

I think we can all agree that life can be a roller coaster ride at times. The way that I see it is that you can either scream your way through it or strap yourself in and move with the mess.

I believe that the core difference between those who thrive through life, versus those who fall apart at the first sign of struggle, is their mental strength.

Mental strength refers to the resilience and strength that people possess to soldier through struggles and succeed.[1] It is the secret sauce that allows you to push past exhaustion when everything in your body says just quit, but your mind refuses to give up.

The Importance of Advancing Your Mental Strength?

Mentally strong people decide from day one that they will not allow their circumstances to define or destroy them. When something doesn’t go their way, they don’t curl up in a ball and give up.

Instead, they stand back up, wipe away their tears, and use the challenges as opportunities to prove to themselves and the world that they can overcome anything and everything.

I’ve got great news. Mental strength isn’t a superhuman trait. Instead, it’s something that you can develop and master, through trial and error. I believe that all of us have the capacity to conquer life’s greatest challenges.

Take a moment and think back to a challenge that you had to overcome. What traits did you have to pull upon in order to get through that difficult time?

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for how far we’ve come, and what it took for us to get to where we are today. I’ve faced countless setbacks in my life, one of which was a car accident that almost left me paralyzed.

At the time, it’s fair to say that being “positive pam” wasn’t on the top of my list. There were countless times when I just wanted to give up, but I didn’t. That’s all that matters.

I was committed to doing whatever was required of me in order to come back stronger than ever before.

Let’s face it… life doesn’t always like your plans.

Sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches. When life hits you, why not hit back harder? You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. By no means do I have it all figured out. None of us do.

However, I do know that the tough times have made me a stronger and more resilient human being. The train wreck moments when my life felt as if it was falling apart proved to be signs that better things were actually falling back together.

Why Is Mental Strength Hard to Achieve?

Your mind is a powerful tool. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Here’s the kicker… we all have that voice inside of our heads, otherwise known as your inner critic.

Rather than empathize with you, this voice basks in the enjoyment of beating you down and trying to convince you that you are not the CEO of your life.

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You aren’t strong enough

You’re messed up.

You can’t get through this.

You aren’t worthy of happiness.

Unfortunately, a lot of people allow this voice to dim their light and dictate every decision in their life. The bottom line is that your inner critic robs you of your mental strength. However, it’s important to not silence this voice without understanding where it comes from.

A lot of people fall into the trap of assuming that, because they are thinking awful things about themselves, they must be true. Right? Wrong.

In actuality, your inner critic is your inner child. Psychologists believe these voices are residues of childhood experiences. We become so used to living in accordance with these narratives that we don’t even notice or question them.[2]

Ironically, your inner critic just wants to help you. Talk about mind games at their finest! I want to propose a different perspective. Instead of fighting with this critical voice, what would happen if you reframed the intention behind it?

Help yourself by transforming your inner critic into your inner coach. Whereas a critic knocks you down, a coach challenges you to find solutions and gives you the confidence to face new obstacles with courage, grace, and determination.

For example, you could say out loud to yourself, “Critic, thanks for trying so hard to keep me safe but it’s time for you to step aside now. I’ve got this.”

The beauty of life is that, at any given moment, you have the power to rewrite your story and unleash the strength that has always been a part of you.

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

So, where do we go from here?

Well, I want you to think of your mind as if it were a muscle. Just like you go to the gym and work at building your physical strength, you’ve got to commit to flexing your mental muscle as well.

At the end of the day, success is a mindset game. As Tony Robbins says,

“80 percent of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20 percent is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.”

Whether your goal is to become a professional athlete, overcome an injury, or be a more emotionally resilient person, mental strength is the ticket that will help you get there.

Let’s explore 5 ways that you can help yourself advance your mental strength.

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1. Develop Unshakeable Confidence

Nobody is born with unshakeable confidence. Anybody that you’ve come across who possesses this trait has it because they have worked tirelessly to build it.

When life knocks you down, it can take your confidence plummeting with it. If you don’t believe in your ability to overcome the odds that are stacked against you, you will give up at the first sign of failure.

As Maxwell Maltz once said,

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”

Mental strength is the thing that allows you to take the hit and bounce forward so that even though you are bruised, you are not defeated.

Anyone can strengthen their confidence muscle. The question is, “How do you practice being confident when you don’t feel like you have anything to be confident about?”

All of us experience self-doubt at some point in our lives. However, successful people don’t allow themselves to become overpowered by negative emotions.

Being successful in life is all about developing and conditioning positive core beliefs each and every day. This is why I’m a big believer in the power of reciting positive affirmations.

You have to trust that you are better than your limiting beliefs. When in doubt, fake it until you feel it. Once you start believing that you are amazing and capable of achieving anything, you naturally start to embody that feeling.

Take a look at this guide if you’d like to boost your self-confidence:

How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide)

2. Take Responsibility for Your Life

When it feels like the world is caving in on you, it’s easy to blame the world for your problems. However, adopting this mindset only serves to disempower you.

If you constantly say, “Bad things always happen to me”, life will constantly feel like a struggle. The Universe listens, so be careful of the words that you speak.

You cannot wait for someone to come along and make your life better. You have the power to take responsibility for your life – this includes the good, the bad and the ugly.

No dream or goal is going to save you. The sooner that you accept and start living that truth, the sooner that you step into your power.

If you somehow believe that you’re always the unlucky one, you need to check this out:

Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

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3. Reframe Setbacks as Signposts for Growth

Setbacks aren’t fatal or permanent. In actuality, there are times when getting knocked down by life is very much needed. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but let me explain.

Sometimes you’ve got to hit your emotional threshold or rock bottom before you are finally ready to change your life. If you feel like you are the bottom now, the good news is that you can’t go any lower. The only way is up!

I believe that hitting rock bottom can be a catalyst for personal transformation and the foundation upon which anyone can rebuild their lives.

I like to think of setbacks as signposts that exist to shake me awake. Whenever I feel stuck, I’ve either been getting too comfortable in my environment or I haven’t been listening to my intuition.

Setbacks offer great opportunities to redirect and refocus your life, but it’s up to you to see them that way. I encourage you to reframe your challenges as opportunities for growth.

The next time that nothing seems to be going your way, step back and ask yourself the following questions – “What is this challenge teaching me about myself, and what opportunity is hidden amidst the pain?”

Every problem has an advantage. It’s up to you to find it. When you learn how to embrace your challenges, you are better able to look every future challenge dead in the eye and give it a wink.

This article give you some good reasons to stop be afraid of failure:

6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail

4. Master Your Emotions

When things fall apart, how do you react? Do you panic and lose control, or do you sit back, assess the situation and take action?

You can’t always control how you feel. Feelings are meant to be felt in their totality. The only thing that you can control is how you respond to your feelings.

You may be able to influence a certain outcome, but everything else is out of your hands. If you don’t master your emotions, they will end up mastering you.

Psychologist, Lisa Feldman Barrett suggests in her book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain that emotions do not happen to us without our volition. Rather, we construct our emotions by making predictions using our past experiences.

This line of thinking supports the belief that you are the creator of your own reality. This means that you are, and will always be, in control of your life and your emotions.

The best way to have more control over your emotional responses is to move throughout your days more mindfully. This comes down to being present and more aware of yourself, your experiences, and how you participate with them.

The next time that you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a deep breath and calm your emotional centre. Give yourself time and space to choose how you will respond.

When you learn how to separate your emotions from your emotional responses, you are able to proactively instead of reactively face and tackle life’s challenges.

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You can learn more about practicing mindfulness here:

Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness

5. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

I believe that comfort is the enemy of progress. Your comfort zone is a safe place to hang out, but nothing ever grows there. Don’t get me wrong, uncertainty doesn’t necessarily feel good.

However, if you have the desire to become mentally stronger, you’ve got to be willing to try and be okay with the possibility of failing.

New research from Yale University shows that uncertainty sends a signal to the brain to kickstart the learning process.[3] This means that those unstable situations that make you feel uncomfortable are critical to your ability to grow and succeed.

Do you think that some of the most successful people in this world got to where they are today by sipping apple martinis and sitting on a beach? Absolutely not.

They worked tirelessly and risk a lot in order to turn their dreams into reality. In short, they took massive action, in spite of their fears. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

You are not here to sit on the sidelines of life and watch everything and everyone pass you by. You have gifts that the world is waiting for. The only way that anyone will benefit from your inspiration is if you get comfortable being uncomfortable.

I challenge you to do one thing every day that stretches your mental muscle. That is how you become the driver of your destiny.

Still wondering how to step out of your comfort zone? I strongly recommend you read this:

Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Final Thoughts

Starting today, commit to helping yourself become mentally stronger.

Your mental strength is bigger than any obstacle or adversity. You can either choose to stay on the ground and play the victim, or you can rise up and transform your pain into possibility.

As someone once said,

“The biggest wall that you’ve got to climb is the one that you build in your mind.”

Whatever you do, keep moving, and don’t stop until you reach the top. I promise that the view will be so worth it.

Are you ready to show life who is boss?

More Resources About Mental Strength

Featured photo credit: Jonas Verstuyft via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Resilience Mastery Coach & Dance Movement Medicine Therapist

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

1. Construct a Plan of Action

The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

2. Focus Your Attention

If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

    Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

    3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

    Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

    The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

    Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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    This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

    The reason is simple:

    Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

    This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

    If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

    4. Accountability Is a Must

    When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

    When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

    You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

    • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
    • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
    • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
    • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

    Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

    5. Catalyst for Change

    There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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    The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

    By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

    Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

    Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

    Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

    6. Character Matters

    In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

    Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

    Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

    It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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    7. Muster up the Courage

    Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

    Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

    Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

    I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

    If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

    You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

    Final Thoughts

    There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

    Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

    More About Living Your Dream Life

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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