10 critical secrets of mentally tough people, according to psychology

There’s a glaring difference between being mentally tough and just acting tough.

Being mentally tough is about resilience, not bravado. It’s a balance of strength and acceptance, grit and grace.

Psychology tells us that those with mental toughness possess certain characteristics that set them apart. And guess what? They’re not all what you’d expect.

In this piece, we’ll delve into the ten critical secrets of mentally tough individuals. 

Let’s get started. 

1) Embrace failure

Mental toughness isn’t about never failing; it’s about how you react when failure does occur.

Psychology teaches us that those with mental fortitude view failure differently than most.

Instead of seeing it as a dead end, they view it as an opportunity for growth. It’s a chance to learn, to improve, and to become better at what they do.

In essence, they don’t fear failure; they embrace it.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel disappointment or frustration. But instead of wallowing in these emotions, they use them as fuel to push forward.

If you’re looking to build your mental toughness, start by changing your relationship with failure. See it as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.

It’s not about avoiding falls but learning how to get back up.

2) Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness, according to psychology, is a powerful tool in building mental toughness.

I remember a time when life was throwing curveballs at me from every direction. Work was chaotic, my personal life was filled with drama – it felt like I was stuck on a never-ending rollercoaster.

Then, I discovered mindfulness.

I started with just 10 minutes a day, focusing on my breath and grounding myself in the present moment. It wasn’t easy at first, but over time, I noticed a shift. My mind was no longer racing ahead to future problems or dwelling on past mistakes. I was more patient, more focused, and better able to handle stress.

In those moments of stillness, I found the strength to face my challenges head-on.

Practicing mindfulness won’t make your problems disappear, but it can give you the mental clarity to tackle them effectively.

And that’s a secret of mentally tough people – they don’t shy away from problems; they face them with clear minds and calm hearts.

3) Prioritize physical health

A strong mind needs a healthy body. It’s not coincidental that the majority of mentally tough individuals are diligent about maintaining their physical health.

Did you know that regular exercise doesn’t just help to keep your body fit? It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters. These endorphins reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.

Furthermore, a nutritious diet is not only essential for physical health but also for cognitive functions. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are linked to improved concentration and mood stability.

In essence, taking care of your body is a crucial step towards building mental toughness. After all, it’s tough to stay mentally resilient when you’re physically run down.

4) Value progress over perfection

Mentally tough people understand that perfection is an impossible standard. Instead, they focus on progress and continual growth.

They know that every small step forward is a win, even if it’s not perfect. And rather than getting caught up in small missteps, they celebrate their victories, no matter how minor they may seem.

This mindset shift reduces the stress and pressure often associated with the pursuit of perfection. It allows for mistakes and encourages learning from them.

It’s okay to aim for the stars, but don’t let the fear of not reaching them stop you from making progress. After all, even a masterpiece starts with a single brush stroke.

5) Cultivate emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a common trait among mentally tough individuals. It’s the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as empathize with the emotions of others.

This skill allows them to navigate stressful situations without letting their emotions take control. They can recognize their feelings, understand why they’re feeling that way, and manage those feelings without letting them influence their actions negatively.

Moreover, having high emotional intelligence enables them to build strong relationships, as they can understand and empathize with others’ feelings.

6) Maintain an attitude of gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in the struggles of life and overlook the blessings. But mentally tough individuals understand the power of gratitude.

They know that even in the midst of hardships, there’s always something to be thankful for. And they make it a habit to acknowledge these things.

This practice shifts the focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right. It breeds positivity and resilience, fueling the strength to keep going even when times are tough.

Gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring your problems. It means acknowledging your blessings despite them.

Take a moment each day to appreciate what you have. It could be something as simple as a beautiful sunset or a kind word from a stranger. These moments of gratitude can build your mental toughness in ways you never imagined.

7) Seek support when needed

There was a time when I thought seeking help was a sign of weakness. I believed that to be mentally tough, I had to face everything alone.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Mental toughness isn’t about going it alone; it’s about knowing when to reach out for support. It’s understanding that we all need help sometimes, and there’s strength in admitting it.

When I finally reached out to my friends during a particularly challenging time, I was surprised at how much it helped. Not only did they provide advice and comfort, but they also reminded me that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

Seeking support doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. And acknowledging that is a sign of true mental toughness.

8) Embrace vulnerability

Mental toughness is often associated with an impenetrable exterior, but the reality is quite the opposite.

Ironically, those with mental toughness understand the importance of vulnerability. They know that to grow, they must acknowledge their weaknesses and fears. They must allow themselves to feel, to be seen, and to be open to criticism.

This vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s a strength. It’s the courage to face the uncomfortable and grow from it.

When you find yourself shielding your vulnerabilities, remember that exposing them may actually be your path to increased mental toughness.

9) Practice self-compassion

Mentally tough individuals understand the importance of being kind to themselves. They acknowledge their mistakes, but they don’t berate themselves over them.

Instead, they treat these moments as opportunities for learning and growth. They extend to themselves the same compassion and understanding they would offer to a friend in a similar situation.

This self-compassion allows for resilience in the face of setbacks. It fosters a positive self-image and reduces the harmful effects of negative self-talk.

When you stumble, remember to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your feelings, understand your mistake, but don’t beat yourself up. You’re human, and it’s okay to falter. What matters is how you pick yourself up and learn from it.

10) Cultivate a growth mindset

At the heart of mental toughness is a growth mindset. This is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed over time through hard work, dedication, and a love for learning.

Mentally tough individuals embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and view effort as a path to mastery. They understand that failure is not a reflection of their ability, but rather an opportunity for growth and improvement.

This mindset fuels their resilience and drive, allowing them to push through difficulties and come out stronger on the other side. It’s not about being the best, but about continually becoming better.

If there’s one thing to remember about mental toughness, it’s this – cultivate a growth mindset. It’s the foundation upon which all other aspects of mental toughness are built.

Final thoughts: It’s a journey

Mental toughness isn’t an attribute you’re born with; it’s a quality you cultivate over time. It’s about harnessing the power of resilience, mindfulness, gratitude, emotional intelligence, and a growth mindset.

These tenets aren’t just theories from psychology textbooks; they’re the lived experiences of people who’ve weathered life’s storms and come out stronger.

It’s not about being invincible, but about understanding that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to fail, to seek help, and to be kind to oneself.

Remember, Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” It’s through our trials and errors that we grow mentally stronger.

So as you navigate your journey towards mental toughness, know that it’s okay to stumble along the way. What matters is the resilience to pick yourself up, the determination to keep going, and the wisdom to learn from each experience.

In the end, mental toughness is less about the destination and more about the journey itself. So here’s to your journey – may it be filled with growth, resilience, and unwavering grit.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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