We all want to be mentally resilient. To be strong within our mind and have the inner wherewithal that keeps us on course and helps us to recover quickly and easily from stress.
Most of us know someone who we view as mentally resilient. Somehow, they seem to navigate life’s issues and problems calmly and methodically. They rarely seem frazzled and if they are, it’s short lived. Not much upsets them and they have a keen ability to look at the bigger picture, rather than getting stuck in the weeds.
These people don’t experience less hardships than the average person. On the contrary, the opposite is often true. They do, however, use healthy coping mechanisms that keep them on a path of healing and increased strength and wisdom, rather than a path of despair, anguish, and unhealthy, self-numbing behaviors.
In addition, they view themselves as survivors, and even life warriors, rather than victims. They rarely ask, “Why me?” and instead ask, “What can I learn from this?” They become the people others seek advice from and no matter what life throws their way, they remain solution focused and always seem to find the silver lining.
To be mentally resilient, you must have a true paradigm shift… unless you are lucky enough that this way of thinking just comes naturally to you (which is rare). This requires a shift in thinking, perception, and perspective. It also requires a lot of consistent inner work. The mentally resilient are no stranger to working on themselves… they know and understand this is an important part of the equation.
While mental strength takes work (just as physical strength does), if we can consistently work towards it, the payoff is big. To be mentally resilient is a true game changer in this thing we call life.
Here are my top 10 tips for mental resilience:
- Find purpose and meaning in your life. If you can look beyond the current problem or issue and try to find the purpose or meaning of it, you can learn and grow from the experience, rather than become angry and bitter about it. A good question to ask yourself is, “What is the meaning behind this problem and how can I gain wisdom from this experience? How can I be better on the other side of the situation?” When we can be curious about our problems instead of angry, we can learn from them. There is great value (and strength) in this.
- Flexibility/ability to adapt to change. This is an important one. I recently wrote a blog on this subject alone and many people related to it. It’s important and equally difficult. We all want things the way we want them. We have a fixed view of how we think our life should go, and when something comes along to upset this, we often don’t like it. The mentally resilient have a true understanding that life equals change… that nothing stays the same forever. They don’t resist change; instead, they embrace it. To be mentally resilient, we must accept the fact that we all have different seasons in life, and adapting to these seasons is necessary for increased growth, wisdom, and strength. As the saying goes, someone who is mentally resilient has learned they cannot stop the waves of life, but they have learned to surf them.
- Gratitude. Simply put, gratitude changes brain chemistry. Incorporating gratitude into your daily life can produce big changes in your mental strength, frame of thought, and overall life. Mentally resilient people are never bitter about their life circumstances. Rather, even in the worst of situations, they still find something to be thankful for.
- A strategy toolbox. This is one of the main things I guide clients through in life coaching… developing a toolbox of strategies. By this I mean, when life throws a curve ball, you have go-to strategies that help you cope and manage the situation in a healthy way. Mentally resilient people know what to do when stress arises. They know what works for them whether it’s prayer/meditation, exercise, reaching out to a friend, listening to an encouraging message or podcast, etc. They don’t sit or stew in a stressful state; instead, they immediately activate a tool that brings them back into balance. Having a strategy toolbox is key for navigating external stress and gaining inner strength.
- Keep learning. Mentally resilient people remain curious about life. They never think they know it all. They remain open to what life can teach them. They never view issues as roadblocks or limitations; instead, they see them as opportunities to gain insight, experience, and increased wisdom.
- Be solution oriented rather than problem focused. In short, the mentally resilient are glass half full rather than glass half empty people. No matter what issue comes about, they can look for and find a solution. I can honestly say my husband has this ability. The most complex problem can arise, and I will instantly become stressed. He will methodically assess until he finds a way to resolve it. Do not let the problem block your ability to find an answer.
- Goals and action steps. Mentally resilient people always have active goals they are working towards. They are never stagnant or stuck. They are always making progress towards something. They don’t give up when they set out to reach a goal. When you are consistently setting goals and creating action steps to help you obtain them, you, by default, become more mentally resilient.
- Find hope. The mentally resilient always find something to be hopeful for and positive about. Even in the worst and most serious situations, they can find something that provides hope. Their language is hopeful, and they are never doom and gloom. This doesn’t mean they see the world through rose-colored glasses, but it does mean they don’t lose sight of hope.
- Self-care. Mentally resilient people understand the importance of self-care. They consistently nurture themselves and do not lose sight of things that promote well-being such as a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and prayer/mediation time. They are also not afraid to ask for help and seek support when needed. Therapy and/or coaching is something they are completely open to. They recognize the fact that sometimes an expert's guidance is needed in order to maneuver through life’s challenges and difficulties.
- A positive tribe. Last but not least, mentally resilient people have a great support system. They know who they can count on for positive and encouraging support when life is hard. The key to this is finding people who are like-minded, who will help you find solutions and support all the things I’ve listed here (and more); not people who will gossip, judge, and add fuel to the already burning fire. The mentally resilient have a positive tribe and surround themselves with other mentally strong people.
In closing, being mentally resilient is something we all want to work towards and ultimately, become. When stress arises, if we can keep these tips in mind, we can become stronger and stronger over time. Remember, it is not about perfection, it’s about constant, intentional, never-ending improvement.