Mental Toughness: 8 Ways to Harden Your Mind

Are you curious about mental toughness and how to effectively harden your mind, setting yourself up for greater success? Here are eight useful techniques to help your mind become your best friend – instead of your worst enemy.

“Strengthening your mindset isn’t only about determination and willpower. It begins long before you ever encounter the storm, and it’s something that’s built up over time. It’s a process.” -Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, Bill Murphy.


Prepare in Advance

One of the best ways to prepare for future challenges, adversities, and storms is to practice and plan ahead of time. This lesson is well-taught by author and motivational speaker Andy Andrews, who has worked with sports greats like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant.

Whether it’s working out, sports, school, work, or another activity, thorough preparation is half the battle. If you plan for the pitfalls and obstacles that may lie ahead, you will place yourself in a much better position to overcome them.


Understand That Your Mind, Body, and Spirit Are Interconnected

“It’s a lot harder to manage your mind if the body and spirit aren’t healthy. Even if you get to a place where you can get the mind on board, it can only go as far as the body will take it.” –-Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, Bill Murphy.

Sometimes when people are dealing with “mind struggles,” they overlook their physical health. However, your physical health impacts every area of your life. If you aren’t eating correctly or exercising regularly, you will be more vulnerable to stress, making it difficult to perform well.

We can’t forget our spirit, which is also connected to our minds and bodies. Maintaining a healthy spirit means different things to different people, but spirituality is a way to help create faith and hope within yourself. Your spirituality may be a belief in God, praying, and reading scripture, or it can be meditation, affirmations, yoga, or something else.


Focus on Mini-Goals

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” This thought can be true when it comes to hardening your mind.

While there’s nothing wrong with having an end goal, it shouldn’t take all of our focus. Doing so can become discouraging. When things start to feel overwhelming, take a moment to focus only on your next step.

Breaking bigger goals into smaller mini-goals can help create a sense of confidence, and overcoming these more achievable goals will get you further than you ever thought possible.


Celebrate Small Victories

Don’t get so busy with your mini-goals that you forget to reward yourself once you accomplish them. Whether you’ve conquered a goal with exercising, nutrition, work, school, or a personal issue, reward yourself with a treat. Here are a few great options:

  • Write down your victories to review later
  • Celebrate with someone you love over coffee
  • Peacefully enjoy a sunrise or sunset
  • Pamper yourself with a fresh haircut or spa-experience
  • Reward yourself with a small gift
  • Repeat a fulfilling mantra like, “I am actively becoming the greatest version of myself.”


Recognize What Motivates You

Because people are wired differently, there is no “one way” to motivate someone. Some people are inspired to keep moving forward by charting their progress. Others thrive by checking in with an accountability partner, reading motivational stories, or rewarding themselves periodically.

The key to mental toughness is understanding what motivates you and capitalizing on that. Take a moment to think about and write down what encourages you to press on toward your goals.


Reconnect With Your “Why” in Life

Your why is your life’s purpose – what you believe you are meant to do in this season or with your whole life.

“There’s very little that’s as important and impactful as identifying your purpose because that will provide more fuel and motivation than just about anything else.” – Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, Bill Murphy.

So, if you’ve lost sight of your “why,” take time to find your way back. Remembering your purpose will come in handy when things get tough.


Strengthen Your “Stress” Muscle

Strengthening your stress muscle may be one of the most challenging tips on this list. With this step, you need to “schedule your pain.” What does that mean exactly?

Simply put, you must practice getting comfortable when you feel uncomfortable. Plan to push yourself beyond where you think your limits lie. Strengthening your stress muscle may be physical, like working out or fasting. Or it may be mental such as making much-needed phone calls or building your capacity for patience.


Take a Few Moments to Just Breathe

Breathing may seem like a no-brainer because we do it every day. But specific breathing techniques can help when trying to achieve mental toughness.

Box breathing, which Mark Devine teaches, is a great option. With this easy exercise, you breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, then breathe in again for four seconds. Simple, right?


Hardening Your Mind Further

We hope you’ve enjoyed these eight tips for achieving mental toughness. For a more detailed look at how to be prepared for and thrive in life’s storms, check out Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity by Bill Murphy.

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