Adding more resistance, adversity, or stress is one way and learning how to adapt to the challenge is another. Yet for all of these ways to get stronger, without removing the obstacles in our own approach to adversity, we often see little gain. So if you want to get stronger mentally, here are five things I try to concentrate on.
It’s taken me a long time to know what is my responsibility and what is not. What I aim to do is take responsibility for my behaviour, my thoughts and my feelings. I now know that I need to let go of the idea that anyone is going to make things better for me. This is sometimes very difficult to achieve and I have certainly struggled with it over the years particularly when I’ve been severely depressed. Whilst I know that sometimes things happen that are out of my control, it is my responsibility to decide how to respond to these things.
I think it’s important to understand this. As hard as it is sometimes, it’s easy to point the finger and blame someone else for “messing up my day”.
Taking things personally
We all get setbacks and often come out stronger as a result. To improve mental resilience we need to stop believing that anyone “has it out for us” or “that the world is against us”. The result of other people’s actions, thoughts, and feelings — are often totally out of our control and we are not responsible for them. So why waste energy wondering why others do the things they do and spend more time on the things we can control and know the difference.
We cannot predict the future. I don’t waste any time anticipating or foretelling the future. Because I know the action is right here, right now, in the present moment and the future is not now. I also know that when my mind is in the future, it’s not in the now, and I’m likely to miss critical details and make mistakes — simply because I was distracted by what could happen instead of focusing on what is happening.
While we all love to dream and often to achieve anything new and exciting in life we need to dream about the possibilities but still retain the awareness that until the building blocks or foundation stones to achieving that dream are in place, those dreams are not reality.
The chances are, it will not “all just work out”. More than likely, there will be good and bad. Thinking life is “all good”, is just a fantasy that promotes denial. And denying what might not be going so well is a sure way to keep it going that way.
For many of us, holding on the past would allow us to avoid loss. Yet I believe it’s important to know that wishing things “could just go back to the ways they were,” is a wish, and not reality. I know the past — as good or bad as it might have been — is gone. And I also know you can’t drive a car, and you can’t go through life, looking backwards.
So I accept the losses, and instead of wishing I could go back in time, I think about what I need to do in the present. Because focusing on the wonderful things happening yesterday is a sure way to miss the opportunities that might be right in front of you.
I know that becoming mentally well is often a tough and hard earned battle — one that is not won overnight. And while sometimes we have to learn how to fine tune our approach and leverage the adversity, sometimes we also have to learn how to get out of our own way.