Every coach, trainer and mentor has their own definition of mental strength. Mental strength has been talked about in sports for ages and if you’re a parent it was probably referred to as mental toughness. And honestly probably one of the many reasons relationships between parents and athletes get destroyed is because every parent has started a story with “Well back in my day”…
First, thank you for joining me along this series on the three different types of strength. If you missed the first two articles on physical strength and emotional strength they can be found in links below:
Now for the fun topic of mental strength. I think it’s really important to first say what I do not consider mental strength. It’s the ability to line up on the field or court for conditioning and see how the last person standing is. That’s really a way to see who can get by to do just enough the longest.
For instance if you tell a group of athletes that they have 10 sprints and need to make them in 20 seconds. What happens is the majority of them will run the first 1-2 to test what effort level they need to give to make their time. So if sprinting at 85% makes time that’s what they will give up until the last one where they go all out if 100%.
Yes, I do understand that there are the Kobe Bryant’s of the world that will push the boundaries regardless. But the human brain was designed specifically for survival. That’s just the way we are naturally wired.
So that’s probably not the best approach to mental strength training for most.
Emotional Confidence = Mental Strength
At the very core mental strength is about understanding that we are in control of our lives. That we are in charge of ourselves and that we, as individuals, create our own reality.
It’s not playing the victim but rather taking personal responsibility and ownership of our lives. Mental strength is the ability to use your own imagination to determine and create clarity on the life and experiences you desire.
Not allowing external circumstances including society, parents, coaches and/or peers define your identity.
And for so many, mental strength is allowing our feelings to flow through us and not suppress them. Especially as a male it can be frowned upon or told you look weak when we show our feelings!
Change Your Story Change Your Life
Letting go is a part of real mental strength, not waking up every day looking for the next person to tell the stories of our past. It’s making the conscious decision to step away from the dramas and traumas of our life because even if it’s a made up story it’s better to tell a story that allows us to feel better.
Isn’t that the reason we are here in our physical bodies to experience all the joy and excitement the world has to offer!
As one of the core principles my mentor teaches is about really knowing that you are deserving and worthy of EVERYTHING. In her words “No Exceptions!”
So as she says and I have written on my whiteboard inside my office “You deserve because you exist”. You don’t need anyone or anything to validate or prove to you that you deserve to make/have an award, championship, career, job, relationship etc.
You came into this world already deserving of it all!
When you come to OWN that you have acquired some of the most powerful mental strength there is!
Confidence of the Mind
It seems like every athlete and person seeks this mysterious word “confidence”. They feel that if they can get more “it” then their entire life will change!
But what exactly is confidence? Where do you find it and what does it have to do with gaining mental strength?
In the most simple terms I tell elementary age kids is that confidence is the ability to turn your thoughts into actions. If you’ve taken the time to use your imagination and thought about something or certain life you want, what actions are you taking to build that momentum?
This is where so many people get stuck. They either say they have no idea where to start. Which is BS considering all the information and resources via the internet. Or are scared to take the first step.
That lack of confidence kicks in all the fear. Fear of letting themselves or other people down. Fear of the unknown or fear of being judged. Recently I was reading and this piece of advice stood out to me…
If you wanna build your own self-confidence just do what you say you will do! Keep your word to yourself! That’s real confidence. Because if we lie or don’t keep our own word then we are self-sabotaging our own lives.
Simple yet extremely powerful. Now the last question, isn’t that the ultimately mental superpower? Doing what we say we will do even when we don’t feel like it!
For our hearts and minds that’s one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves!
Again I hope you have found value in this article as well the previous ones. I tried to keep them as short and concise as possible. Another reason I wanted to break it into 3 parts versus one long article!
As always, Decide what you want and go get it!