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What is mental toughness?

what is mental toughness?
Penny Mallory

Just like a muscle, mental toughness has to be built and you can develop it at any stage of your life. We’re not talking about acting tough and being insensitive when we consider mental toughness. We’re talking about how to deal with failure, to see challenges as opportunities and being resilient no matter what the world throws at you. Although the subject is frequently applied in sports psychology, mental toughness and positivity are also essential for someone to be successful in life.

It requires discipline and a growth mindset with a positive attitude. Easier said than done right? But through simple, daily measures everyone can develop mental toughness by pushing limits and making ourselves ‘uncomfortable’. Sounds mad doesn’t it but even starting the day with a cold shower, holding a ‘plank’ or walking in the rain can help develop resilience.

In some ways it’s a survival instinct that forces you to face up to challenges with a winning outcome rather than losing.

When you are resilient or mentally tough, you’ll be able to stay determined and to stay focused even after multiple failures, being able to handle stressful situations and solve problems under pressure.

We’ve all heard the term ‘snowflake’ applied to millennials, a suggestion that they are too soft to function productively, becoming easily offended and expecting convenience above hard work. It is, of course, a sweeping generalisation but certainly attitudes to mental health and work/life balance have changed over the last couple of decades.

Mental health and anxiety are discussed far more widely now. More millennials and Gen Z claim that they have ADHD and anxiety disorders without getting the actual clinical evaluation. There is also considerably more ‘burnout’ being experienced. Rather than using TikTok as our ‘online GP’, perhaps it is time that resilience was discussed and developed, in conjunction with medication when needed.

By developing mental toughness we can overcome difficult situations and failures in life, a ‘Blitz’ spirit that can get us through the lowest of the lows.

Our podcast guest, Penny Mallory, mental toughness advocate and TED EX speaker, discussed the four pillars that have been recognised as the key to mental toughness :

CONTROL - choosing to be the driver or passenger in life and managing emotions

COMMITMENT - completing a task 100%, anything less being incomplete

CHALLENGE - seeing challenges as an opportunity, winning and pushing limits

CONFIDENCE - self belief

Research has shown that 30% of achievement is down to skill, ability and intelligence but 70% is down to commitment, mental toughness and determination.

If mental toughness is learned, not genetic, every one of us could benefit from learning to incorporate it into our lives - and it could start every morning with a cold shower!

If you feel you have mental health issues, please consult a doctor or get specialist help.

Listen to our podcast where we chat with Penny Mallory where we chat about Mental Toughness. Visit our resources page which has a collection of useful links from 3rd party websites and content. Did you enjoy this article? Why not join the Two Women Chatting mailing list for regular updates.

1 Comment

Jun 18, 2023

Sometimes kids can be such snowflakes but it really has been hard since the pandemic

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