Often, when we dream of being better people or improving our lives we think of our finances. We want to have enough money to afford cars, houses, holidays and all the nice things in life. But, would that be enough or even possible if we did not have inner strength? Without being the toughest versions of ourselves? Toughness is one of the things we barely give thought to and when we do, it is often when we are cornered. We try to be tough when we are left without any other choice.
We often associate being tough with having muscles, masculinity, a serious face, being inflexible, or being mean to others and the likes. Those are some of the most common connotations, but does having muscles, masculinity, inflexibility, and keeping a straight face really mean that one is tough? One can be all those things and still be considered ‘weak’.
It is important to note here that we can never achieve perfection. The world and everyone around us, our situations, keep changing, evolving and will continue to do so.
We often hear, ‘as a man thinketh so is he’. Meaning, we are a product of our thought patterns and whether we win or lose in life rests on how we think. You can never rise above your thoughts. Thoughts of defeat produce a defeated life. Thoughts of success and prosperity produce success and prosperity.
Becoming the highest version of ourselves requires a certain degree of mental toughness or mettle. Merriam Webster dictionary defines mettle as, “a vigor and strength of spirit or temperament; a staying quality” while another source defines it as “a person's ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.”
To walk the path we dream of without wavering, we need our inner strength to match our dreams and purpose. To be brave enough, determined enough, and focused enough among other things. To be able to conquer fears, doubts, and other weaknesses; will require a strong willingness to keep growing and becoming a better person than we were yesterday.
Here are a few tips on your road to becoming the toughest version of yourself;
Work on your mental resilience – Mental resilience is everything. The greater part of our being depends on it. Being mentally resilient is mostly about maintaining a positive state of mind, as a state of mental toughness determines perceptions of oneself and, ultimately how you understand and respond to external pressures. If you are mentally strong, every other form of toughness is a plus.
Mentally resilient people choose their fights or battles, are confident, are emotionally intelligent (control their emotions rather than being controlled by emotions), are strong-willed, and are not easily derailed from their main goal. A positive state of mind allows you to be in control of your life and enables you to make good decisions, putting you in a better position to face fears and keep bouncing back time and time again.
Stay physically healthy – there is a connection between physical and mental resilience. This balance increases our level of follow through—having an ability to conceive an idea and execute it or see it through. You easily achieve goals and learn more when you are directly involved in making decisions as to how things should be done. Therefore, ensure that you exercise to stay fit, strong, and energized. It also helps you refresh your mind and relieve stress. Aspects of physical health are linked to healthy eating habits. Choices of food have immediate and long-term effects. Eat food that will help you stay alert and energized throughout the day while ensuring that you won’t be affected in the long run.
Become a life-long learner – we live in a competitive world and often we will be required to work with others as a team. Don’t just acquire a skill, but become the best possible. Being good at what you do gives you confidence and makes it easier for your voice to be heard. With good skills and the will to continue learning you will be respected and unstoppable as a professional.
Choose your battles – choose how the situation unfolds. When met with negative energy choose how you will react. We encounter people in our everyday lives and paths, e.g. home, work, recreation, restaurants, etc. Maintain positivity; focus on what matters, build meaningful relationships rather than focusing on unnecessary fights. This does not mean to accept or allow people to negatively treat you as they please; yet more so about not allowing people to move you into a place that you will later regret. Choose your battles wisely.
Build a strong support system – we are all human. Even the most mentally resilient people go through situations where they may lose hope and get close to giving up. It always helps to have people who will give you the support you need to get back your strength.
In closing, forging through difficult times is at times a gruesome task. At times the obstacles seem insurmountable and it is not always the case that light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. However, mental toughness begins in our minds.
When we transform our minds, on the road of becoming the highest version of ourselves, we can see the path of success clearly and it gives us the courage and the strength to go for our dreams and our goals. As long as we are defeated in our minds, we will be defeated in every other area of our lives.
Forge on - continue to develop, improve, and increase your mettle level!