Mental toughness training is a hot topic in the field of sports psychology and many athletes – including runners, climbers, and team sports players – use mental training to boost their composure, focus, and ability to react quickly.
It isn’t just athletes who can benefit from mental training though. Improving “mental toughness” helps people deal with stresses and overcome obstacles.
Whether you are a prepper getting ready for TEOTWAWKI or just getting ready for a job interview, you can benefit from these mental training techniques.
1. Admit that You Are Scared
I know that this seems like unconventional advice because of the myth that “mentally tough people don’t get scared.”
But the reality is that even the toughest people get scared.
A lot of people try to act tough by saying that they aren’t scared of anything. Sometimes people have lied to themselves for so long that they may actually believe they aren’t scared!
When you bury your fears, you are burying your self-doubt.
To be mentally tough, you need to face your self-doubt.
Try this exercise:
Make a list of all of the things that truly terrify you. For example, I am terrified that I won’t be able to take care of my family in an emergency situation.
Once you know your fears, you can start facing them – and build up your mental toughness in the process.
2. Do Things You Aren’t Good At
A lot of people like to act tough by showing off all of the things that they are good at. But, if you ask these “tough” people to do something they aren’t good at, they will usually make some sort of excuse or put it down.
When you only stick to the things you are good at, you never learn any new skills. Worse, you never get a chance to be bad at something and be humbled by it.
So do things that you aren’t naturally good at. Allow yourself to suck at them, or work hard until you get good at them. This mental training technique goes a long way to building your toughness.
3. Make a List of the Things You Can’t Control
Weak people are afraid of things that they can’t control. Sometimes they will avoid thinking about them completely. Others hide from the things they can’t control by obsessively trying to control what is within their grasp.
A classic example of someone weak-minded is a controlling boyfriend who demands that his girlfriend never leave the house or hang out with friends. Rather than admit that he can’t control whether his girlfriend will love him or not, he tries to act tough and assert power over her.
By contrast, people who are mentally strong know that they can only control themselves and their emotions.
When you make a list of the things you can’t control, you’ll be ready mentally to deal with them when things don’t go how you want.
4. Identify Your Core Beliefs
We all have certain beliefs that form our identities and shape how we live and react to problems. The problem is that these core beliefs might be downright wrong.
It is incredibly scary to confront wrong core beliefs. When you admit that one belief is wrong, you then must admit that maybe everything you’ve ever believed is wrong. This is why so many people cling to their beliefs despite all of the evidence which says they are wrong.
We see this in politics a lot. The more politicians are confronted with their errors, the more they keep their incorrect stance.
When looking over your core beliefs, see if you can find any which are black/white. These are the ones which are usually rooted in fears and insecurities. Rarely is anything in life so black or white.
Working on changing these incorrect core beliefs is one of the most important mental training techniques you can do.
5. Try New Things
Routine is a destroyer of mental toughness! Yes, routine does have its place in some circumstances – but when you cling to routine, you won’t be able to cope with change well. And we all know that change is inevitable.
To be mentally strong, you have to be ready to embrace change and make the best of it. An easy (and often fun) mental training technique is to simply shake up your routine and try new things.
Travel to new places.
Hang out with people who have completely different interests.
Talk to people who share different viewpoints on the world…
Doing these things will force you to confront yourself and make you tougher in the process.
6. Make a List of Your Mistakes, and Move On
Mentally weak people tend to do one of two things:
- They dwell on their mistakes
- They deny that they ever made a mistake.
To be mentally strong, you must be able to accept the fact that we all make mistakes sometimes. Then you must be able to LEARN from these mistakes and move on.
When you can do this, you won’t be afraid of taking calculated risks and making mistakes in the future, and you’ll be less likely to fail because you’ll make better decisions.
7. Go Somewhere Alone
One of the best mental training techniques is to spend time alone. By alone, I don’t mean sitting in front of the TV or computer and distracting yourself with noise. I mean that you are alone in a peaceful place. For example, I go hiking by myself fairly frequently.
When you are constantly surrounded by people and distractions, it is easy to ignore all the self-doubt in your mind. But, as soon as you are by yourself, those self-doubts start to surface.
Instead of trying to ignore self-doubt, let it come to the surface so you can finally deal with it. You’ll soon find that your own company isn’t so scary, and that you don’t have to depend on other people to entertain yourself or distract your mind.
7. Do Things That Make You Uncomfortable
Many mental training experts recommend gradually exposing yourself to uncomfortable situations so you build up a tolerance.
Doing uncomfortable things isn’t just about building tolerance to a specific thing though (like taking cold showers to build up tolerance to cold weather). Whenever you do something uncomfortable, you push your brain to build up more resolve. This resolve extends to other areas of life too.
For example, if you talk with your offensive mother-in-law instead of avoiding her, you’ll find that the experience helps you build resolve to do other tough tasks like staying calm during an emergency.
Building Mental Toughness It Is Worth the Effort!
Yes, I know that a lot of these mental training techniques seem unconventional. But don’t dismiss them just because the idea of change or trying new things scares you.
I, for example, feel I learned more about mental toughness when I was in Palestine and talking to a man with his 3 wives (a situation which was definitely strange and uncomfortable for me) than I did throughout all of the wilderness survival courses I took.
Take a look at yourself and ask, “Am I really mentally tough? Or am I just acting tough?” Because, if you are just acting, then you aren’t ready for life’s challenges.
Do you think you are mentally tough? What helped you build up your resolve? Let us know in the comments.
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It is funny that you posted this today, because I have started working on letting go of the things I cannot control. Every morning, before I get up, I tell myself that it is okay to let go of everything I can’t control. It has been hard, but I am not stressing out nearly as much. This, unfortunately, includes some of my family that refuses to believe that anything bad can happen and thinks I am crazy for wanting to be prepared for any situation. Thanks for.posting this. It gives me so other things to think about and to work on.
Thanks Patricia, this is one of my favorite posts as it can be applied to all aspects of prepping and indeed life in general.
“You can always take one more step”
Got this from SGM Don A. Edward. He was a private in the Korean war when the Chinese came across the border. Only 3 men survived (none were wounded or taken prisoner) out of his 134 man infantry company. He told me “No matter how tired, hungry, hurting, or scared you are you can ALWAYS take one more step.” He was the toughest, yet most compassionate man I have ever known. As an Infantry, Airborne, Ranger, Special Forces, MFF, Combat Diver, and a few other skills I can attest to this mantra.
It is ironic that your mental preparedness techniques are almost identical to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous Anonymous. I have worked those several times and find I don’t panic in most any situation. It is acceptance of the fact that I can control absolutely nothing except my feelings and thoughts and my reactions to situations. To just do what is before me to do. Accept that I falable and that is OK too.
The thing is that you are less likely to overreact amdmore likely to make better decisions by being calm and listening twice as much as you talk. You are gathering intell to make an informed decision.
Simple really. When you are out some where peaceful your instincts kick in and you listen more to your gut than anything else. That is how I have learned to deal with very stressful situations including when my heart kept going crazy and I would lose consciousness I stayed as calm as possible and called for help. I do believe that is what saved my life. There are many instances where that has been the case. I have a healthy fear of things. I just don’t let fear control me.
Hi Sonia, thanks for your honesty. Its great to hear some real life examples of these techniques. Take care.
Thanks a lot, I will definitely try this one-
Great artical to grow with. To be successful in life you have to be mentally tough and who doesn’t want to be more successful. As I grow older it seems to be something I’m looking to do more off. Thank you.
Something on the don’t feel fear statement.I’ll explain why it’s more complicated than that.You still have the fight or flight reactions triggered in said situation apart from one major effect the emotion fear isn’t triggered by the fight or flight response.Everything else still happens apart from the emotional aspect of fear.You will usually find people new to this have replaced fear with anger which results in a trap of only being able to fight no matter what.This stage is very dangerous for all around.
Iv never left comments after reading articles like this online,but this is I think the best iv ever read.excellent! Great job.