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How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

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How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success, while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

The good news is that no matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you’re going to increase your mental toughness and manage stress, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset in everyday life.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

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“I’m not smart enough to…”

“I don’t have enough experience to…”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively.

When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true, and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

  • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
  • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
  • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was great or awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

But this isn’t true!

If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often.

When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

Ditch the Dwelling

Self-limiting beliefs and all-or-nothing thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative, which is bad news for mental health. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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That doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

If you struggle with this, you can try the following:

  1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
  2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
  3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
  4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

2. Connect With Your Purpose

One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong “why” for all of your short and long-term goals.

If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a “why” for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution, and things weren’t going well. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower or discipline.

It’s more likely that you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a why for. Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

You can learn more on identifying your purpose in this video:

Find Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something, and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers[3].

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Develop mental toughness with intrinsic motivation

    Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

    However, if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that “why” is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

    If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things.

    3. Find Strength in Unity

    The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone.

    Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

    Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

    If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

    Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

    The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success, discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

    If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

    Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

    Recruit Some Cheerleaders

    If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders to help you successfully complete your goals. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

    Even if you have a strong why and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

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    As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. When they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs.

    Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

    Form an Accountability Group

    Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong why for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

    Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

    Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

    4. Learn to Pick Yourself up After Setbacks

    Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

    As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

    When you find yourself in a low spot, instead of giving up right away, ask yourself these questions:

    • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
    • “Are negative thoughts distorting my view?”
    • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
    • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
    • “Is this goal still important to me?”
    • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or hold me accountable?”

    Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged.

    This article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

    Tying It All Together

    A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize negative tendencies and taking action to correct them early on with healthy habits. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

    No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

    More on Developing Mental Strength

    Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

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    Austin Bollinger

    Austin is the founder, blogger, and podcast host at Daily New Years. He's on a mission to help people identify, set, and crush their goals.

    The Ultimate List of 29 Life Goals for Living a Fulfilling Life What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours) What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

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    Last Updated on December 6, 2021

    Feeling Lost? 40 Quotes to Help You Find Meaning in Life

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    Feeling Lost? 40 Quotes to Help You Find Meaning in Life

    Sometimes, we carry with us ancient wisdom that has been whispered through generations where we find strength for what we need. Other times, we sense our happiness and sanity have been swept away, and we float rudderless in our space. We wonder if we’re heading in the right direction and feel doom rather than the transformation. In these moments, we may need some feeling lost quotes to help us find inspiration again.

    During the times when we feel lost, it’s too easy to forget the comfort of good times and wade through the fluff that separates us from the pack.

    I often work in leadership and have to test my limits and inspire those I’m leading. One of the quotes I keep in mind by T.S. Elliot is:

    “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

    Knowing how you will perform in a crisis, personally or professionally, can help you get through tough times. The people who tend to work best in a crisis or stay calm in stressful times are those who are honest and forthright.

    We often try to find sense in our lives with logic, reducing perceived risks by increasing control. The problem with control is you can hold on too tight, narrowing your options and missing the big picture.

    Trying to squeeze action out of undefined goals only increases the pressure. Being happy comes from a sense of self and freedom, not a narrow list you’ve locked yourself into.

    Sometimes, we need to observe our life in new ways and examine it with wisdom we doubt we have. Those big successes are done with small incremental actions done every day. Who will you choose to be in times of doubt?

    Whether you bookmark this page for future inspiration or show off powerful, inspiring quotes on your T-shirt, coffee mug, key chain, and screen saver, these 40 feelings lost quotes will help remind you of your true essence.

    We can reconnect with our priorities and take inspiration from both the ancients and modern visionaries with some of my favorite words below that inspire simplicity and truth.

    Feeling Lost Quotes

    1. “If you are working on something you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” –Steve Jobs

    2. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” –Gordon Eadie

    3. “One of the truest tests of integrity is a blunt refusal to be compromised.” –Chinua Achebe

    4. “The fears we don’t face become our limits.” –Amy Elizabeth

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    5. “Be who you needed when you were younger.” –Anonymous

    6. “We generate fears when we sit. We overcome them by action.” –Dr. Henry Link

    7. “The intangible represents the real power of the universe. It is the seed of the tangible.” –Bruce Lee

    8. “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” –Dolly Parton

    9. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” –Henry Ford

    10. “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” –Vincent Van Gogh

    11. “Stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion.” –Rumi

    12. “A tree that is unbending is usually broken.” –Loa Tzu

    13. “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” –Plutarch

    14. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato

    15. “Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” –Chinese proverb

    16. “To get lost is to learn the way.” –African Proverb

    17. “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” –Zig Ziglar

    18. “Do you know who you are? Don’t ask. Act. Action will delineate and define you.” –Thomas Jefferson

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    19. “Give thanks for what you are today and go on fighting for what part of you will be gone tomorrow.” –William Shakespeare

    20. “Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

    21. “One day you will ask me which is more important, my life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life.” –Kahlil Gibran

    22. “You were born to be real, not to be perfect.” –Anonymous

    23. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb.” –Nelson Mandela

    24. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” –Maya Angelou

    25. “I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance and affection to be art.” –Kahlil Gibran

    26. “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” –Japenese Proverb

    27. “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

    28. “Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” — Katherine Dunham

    29. “One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day. Similarly, one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.” — Aristotle

    30. “There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

    31. “You got to go down a lot of wrong roads to find the right one.” — Bob Parson

    32. “Anger, resentment, and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others. It only changes yours.” — Shannon L. Alder

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    33. “To be lost is as legitimate a part of your process as being found.” — Alex Ebert

    34. “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” — Henry Rollins

    35. “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard

    36. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” — Vivian Greene

    37. “Nothing is more beautiful than the smile that has struggled through the tears.” — Demi Lovato

    38. “Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” — Shunryu Suzuki

    39. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” — Robert H. Schuller

    40. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

    Sometimes It’s Ok to Feel Lost

    After looking at these feeling lost quotes, it is easy for someone to be confused. But these inspirational quotes will guide you to hear a voice every time when the risk is high, and you have nowhere to run. It is always easy to choose the shortcut and ignore the voice of the subconscious to do the right thing!

    No matter how dire the circumstances might be, you need to make efforts and find ways to uplift your morale. Not making an effort is more painful than the risk of immersing your thoughts in negativity.

    When you are feeling lost, it is natural to be confused about the next step. However, you have to determine when the risk of staying in a sad state for a longer period is causing more harm than good.

    And don’t you worry, it’s okay sometimes to feel lost and not know where you are heading in your life. We go through various phases in life, and none of them stay permanent. Remember that “Life is a work-in-progress” and this too shall pass. Keeping hope is very important if you want to sail through the tides of life.

    Don’t Be too Hard on Yourself

    Everyone is fighting their fight in their ways, but none can say – “I know it all.” Life is a constant struggle, and everyone has to push through personally to overcome obstacles.

    Whether it is your professional life that’s making you feel lost or your personal life brought about this state of mind, remember that you alone can find the solution. Happiness is a state of mind, and you alone can control the emotions that can bring a change in your attitude when you are feeling lost.

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    No one can tell you what your purpose is in the world, and only you have to decide that on your own. The universe has given us life and one that teaches us various things through unique experiences. Some might be good, and some might be bad.

    So, don’t beat yourself up or be hard on yourself even if you have not yet figured it out. It’s okay! You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why it is taking so long or why haven’t you been able to figure it out yet. Go at your own pace, and you shall reach where you intend to. Nothing is permanent, and you will find your way out. It’s just a matter of time.

    Rather than complaining and belittling yourself, you can try brainstorming ideas to help you move on. Procrastinating and beating yourself up will only drown the motivation and bring nothing of value but just self-pity.

    Don’t forget if you set your heart to something, you can achieve it. Feeling lost is not a permanent state, and to uplift your emotions, you need to have faith.

    Final Thoughts

    Many of these feeling lost quotes have a common core. That is, to take a step back and view yourself in a new way.

    Take action and make inspiration a routine. To act creates learning, and that builds confidence, provides direction, and eliminates doubt.

    Imagine what you want it to be so that your vibration matches your desire. We can’t snap our fingers to instantly change feeling lost, but we can increase our situational awareness with our emotions and places where our lives have or may take an abrupt turn.

    We take inspiration from our daily lives in as many individually unique forms as we are different. Inspiration can strike instantly and sporadically or feel like a trickle that slowly grows into a majestic waterfall crashing through with creative energy. That trickle is what will keep you going in dark times.

    When you’re in a place where you feel lost and don’t recognize yourself, allow some inner compassion for the person you are right in that moment[1].

    You have the power to create your world, one step at a time, and these feeling lost quotes can help. You choose how you think. Tune in to how you feel and why.

    Remember you have the power to be, have, and do anything you desire. Tough times never last, but tough people do.

    See what I did there? Another quote to inspire original thought as it applies to you. It’s been said that if you want to test a man’s character, give him power and you will see his true colors. So keep your inspiration on tap for when you need a reminder of your purpose.

    More to Inspire You When You’re Feeling Lost

    Featured photo credit: Daniel Jensen via unsplash.com

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