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Last Updated on November 25, 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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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?

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More About Mental Strength

Featured photo credit: Jonas Verstuyft via unsplash.com

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Ashley Elizabeth

Psychologist and Motivational Speaker

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

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Positive thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. The advantages of positive mantras have been presented by authors and motivational speakers around the world. However, value affirmation may be more effective.

Do these techniques really work? Why would repeating a simple, positive phrase change the way you think and feel? Those are the questions we’re going to dive in to.

Decoding Positive Thinking

Positive thinking[1] is about developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and favorable outcomes from events in our life. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking optimistic thoughts.

This doesn’t mean we are unrealistic about the possibilities. Positive thinking is about recognizing all of the possible outcomes but choosing to focus on those that are positive and offer improvements to our lives.

Does Positive Thinking Work?

While many people believe that positive thinking leads you to the path of happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may never end, the detractors have many reasons to believe that positive thinking, in isolation, doesn’t do much for our mental health. Here are some ways positive mantras can backfire.

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How Positive Mantras Can Do Harm

While positive mantras can be a good addition to a routine when understood, there are some downsides that you should be aware of.

1. Suppression of Negative Emotions

If we use positive mantras [2] too frequently, it might work for a shorter period, but in the long run, it may cause adverse consequences. Why?

When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. If it continues for an extended time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is what helps us to accept challenges and overcome them.

2. Actions Speak Louder Than Mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes, and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey.

As a consequence, we might be caught off guard by negative vibes and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

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For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs and biceps, and you keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the so-called negatives in your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, your waistline, and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

3. Production of Delusional Thinking

A fact is a fact; it won’t change irrespective of the situations and time and won’t change even when you utter positive mantras your whole life. For example, if you are a little short on money, you aren’t going to miraculously solve your financial problems just because you utter positive mantras a million times. It will be much better if you accept the reality and work towards dealing with it.

For example, if you have loan problems, you should work on personal budgeting instead of living with a false sense of security. This will make you happier in the long run.

Let’s take another scenario as an example. You have an exam tomorrow, and you are not prepared well. You’re time would be better spent studying the information you’re lacking rather than repeating a positive mantra to convince yourself that you will be fine. Ultimately, the positive thinking will help you feel more confident on the answers you already know, but it won’t conjure up information you didn’t study for. Conjuring fantasies to wrap up reality is no way to answer any question in the real world.

Hard work is key to success in our life. If you have worked hard, then despite all the negative thoughts that might surround your head instinctively, you are going to perform better. However, if you haven’t put in enough work, then no matter how many times you say that you are going to be successful, it won’t be enough.

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4. Increase Low Self-Esteem

A study has also shown that positive thinking works well if you have very high self-esteem. However, if you have low self-esteem and utter positive mantras, it will only strengthen your negative mindset when there are met by set-backs[3]. This will result in many negative feelings.

For example, if a good football player believes that he is going to be the best, then it will act as a buffer to help him perform to his potential. However, if a player with low self-esteem thinks that he is going to be the best player in the world, he will get discouraged when he realizes he isn’t doing as well as he hoped.

Alternative to Positive Mantras

If you are a believer in positive mantras, and you are beginning to doubt its functionality, what will you do? Don’t fret, because there is another theory called value affirmation that might help you.

What is Value Affirmation?

First of all, values are the beliefs which we think are desirable and ideal. Our values are dynamic as they are changing and reshaping as we experience new things in our life. Therefore, it is necessary that we update our values constantly so our objective in life resembles the values we believe in.

If we are aware of our values, it will help to maintain balance in our life. If there is an imbalance between our value and aim, it will undermine our motivation to do things. Hence, value affirmation is recognizing and defining the values we believe in rather than repeatedly saying positive sentences that may or may not hold significance for us.

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Do Value Affirmations Work?

In a recent survey[4], students in one of the universities were chosen randomly to write about their values. Those students who were selected performed very nicely in their college years in comparison to those students who had not taken part. This was repeated again with the same success in the Hispanic community and African-American community.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself chanting mantras to assure you that everything is going to be fine, stop. Instead, try to recognize your deeply rooted values and check whether your values are in balance with your actions and goals.

The Bottom Line

Positive mantras can be a great addition to a regular meditation practice or a good technique to use if you are secure in your self confidence and direction in life. However, if you’re feeling lost or having trouble tracking down your motivation, value affirmations may do more to help you as they’ll force you to take a good look at what really matters in your life.

More Tips on Values

Featured photo credit: Kazi Mizan via unsplash.com

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