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5 Things You Need to Strengthen Your Mental Toughness

Going through tough times and experiencing challenges and difficulties are a given in life. The difference between the people who “make it” and those that don’t lie in their ability to take everything they’ve got and use it to their advantage, even the negative things and circumstances they find themselves in.

Mental Toughness

Mentally tough athletes are the stuff of legend – and every top performing athlete in every sport have an insane amount of mental toughness and inner strength. It’s impossible to be the top otherwise.

Going through tough times and experiencing challenges and difficulties are a given in life. The difference between the people who “make it” and those that don’t lie in their ability to take everything they’ve got and use it to their advantage, even the negative things and circumstances they find themselves in. 

 

Know Your “why” and use that to Push Forward 

Every mentally tough athletes have a “why, a reason why they are doing what they are doing.

Your why might be because you love surfing or motocross. Or you need to provide for your family, or you have a strong competitive spirit that naturally draws you to whatever sport you are doing.   Regardless of what your reason is, your “why” must run deep – without it, you will never have the internal motivation to develop true mental toughness

In the end, without a strong why, you’ll have an easier time folding when the going gets tough.

 

Take Care of Yourself Physically

It might seem “cool” to work yourself to the bone and not get the proper rest and rehabilitation your mind and body needs, but in the long run you won’t last and will burn out well before the finish line is in sight. The best thing you can do for your mental toughness is to get good sleep, eat well, and exercise.

It’s simple: To develop mental toughness, you’ll need to build a lifestyle that makes mental toughness possible. Your mind will perform with much more resilience – which is the key to building mental strength – if you’re taking care of your physical health.

The basis of it all is that your mind and body are dependent on each other, and without developing your physical health, building mental toughness is much more difficult.

 

Don’t Judge Yourself

While you need to be real with yourself, see your faults and work in improving them, you need to stop judging yourself and accept yourself for who you are.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t care about getting better or that you’ve convinced yourself that everything is great all the time – that’s living in delusion. What we are saying is to be honest with yourself and acknowledging where you’re at. View yourself as deserving of love and success, even when your behaviors (or their outcomes) aren’t positive. At the risk of sound cliché, every day is a new day, and brings new opportunities to better yourself.

 

Train for the Challenge 

Mental toughness isn’t something you just wake up with one day – it is a daily, dedicated  practice. 

So, how do you train for adversity?

One of the best ways to practice mental toughness is by simulating difficulty. Who wants to go through difficult things on purpose, you might ask? Winners. Athletes who know that when they practice performance practicing – training in a competitive environment versus a perfect environment – will have more winning skills than athletes to give up at the first sign of difficulty. 

You can take the same approach by manufacturing ways to make things more difficult. When it rains, don’t cancel your training – get out there and push through it. 

Get used to skateboarding or surfing in difficult environments will sculpt you into a skilled and more rounded athlete. Don’t always practice in perfect environments – If you train for challenge, the real competition will feel easier…because you’ll have built mental toughness through the way you’ve practiced.

 

Positive Self-Talk is Key

It’s not fluff and not a cliché: You are your biggest supporter, and if your goals are to be a great athlete, then you will need to treat yourself as a great athlete. Once you stop judging yourself and start accepting where you’re at, you can begin to speak positively to yourself and see yourself improve.

When you start to study or spend time watching the greats of any sport, you see that most athletes have had the experience of “getting in their head”, which generally means getting to a negative place that deeply affects their performance as much as who they are as a person.  

Staying positive is difficult, especially when you aren’t seeing the results you want to. 

How do you manage to keep yourself in a good space when it doesn’t feel like you are moving forward, or any closer to your goals and ambitions?

The most important one is to recognize your negative self-talk traps and practice framing them positively. For example, “I let everyone on the team down,” is a thought that you might think if you partake in a team sport, or it could refer to your personal team – your sponsors, family, and supporters.

However, you can change this to “We’re all in this together, and I’ll keep working to get better,” this leads to doubling down on what needs to be improved and focusing on future training. 

 

This is just a start. There are many more tactics to develop positive self-talk, but as you can see here, building a solid foundation based on mental and physical strength is the basis for all champions.

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