So What Is Mental Toughness?

So what is Mental Toughness?

Mental Toughness is a personality trait which is emerging as the key to understanding how people respond to stress, pressure and challenge. The research shows us that mental toughness is a key factor in resilience and sustainable performance. It can in fact account for up to 25% of the variation in an individual’s performance and is a significant factor in wellbeing.

There are many exercises that you can do to help you develop your mental strength. Try these on for size.

1) Evaluate your Core Beliefs – We all develop core beliefs about ourselves, our lives and the world around us. They build up over time, based on our experiences and interactions with the world. You may be very conscious of what they are, or have minimal insight – but they are there. Sometimes these core beliefs are inaccurate or unproductive. If you believe you’ll always fail when under pressure or during a test, then it is likely that you will never believe you will succeed and probably never really try. These beliefs can in some way, become self-fulfilling prophecies. Think about identifying some of your core beliefs and “put them on trial”. Look for beliefs that are black and white or make you “catastrophise”. Very few things in life are “always” or “never” true. Could you modify your thinking and core beliefs? It can be hard work – but oh so worth it.

2) Make your ANTs your PETS – We all have ANTs in our heads – don’t panic, I don’t mean the little creepy crawly kind, I mean Automatic Negative Thoughts. These thoughts sap your confidence. We don’t often actually spend much time thinking about how we think. But increasing awareness of your thinking habits is hugely helpful to build our mental toughness and resilience. Thoughts such as “I can’t do anything right” stop us from reaching our goals and our potential. Catch your negative thoughts and turn them into PETs – Performance Enhancing Thoughts. Now notice we don’t call them Positive Enhancing Thoughts. We don’t want to just look at the world through rose coloured glasses. We want to be optimistic for sure, but realistically so. Is it actually true that you “Can’t do anything right?” What other evidence exists for you getting it right quite a bit, in fact a lot? Usually in life there are never only two options, left or right, black or white, right or wrong. We always have a few shades of grey. So could we put a slightly different slant on our ANTs and question them, explore options, alternatives? Could we enhance our performance by changing and managing our thought? Perhaps ANTS are actually just termites in disguise and they can’t stand the light of reason, because they are not reasonable.

3) What is within your circle of influence – Do you waste your mental energy ruminating about things that are outside of your control. Worry is a complete waste of time. All it does is steal your joy and keep you busy doing nothing. Save your mental energy for productive tasks such as solving a problem that is within your control or setting goals. Make a conscious effort to shift your mental energy to something productive. The more you practice expending your mental energy wisely, the more habit forming it will become.

So try these strategies on for size, just for starters. There’s a lot more you can do.

Are you interested in measuring your own Mental Toughness? The MTQ48 is the world’s first valid and reliable psychometric tool measuring Mental Toughness. It measures 4 key areas relating to:

  • Control – believing you can control your destiny

  • Challenge – seeing challenge as an opportunity

  • Commitment – being able to stick to tasks

  • Confidence – having high levels of self-belief

Contact Michelle Bakjac at Bakjac Consulting on 0412047590 or if you would like to assess and build your Mental Toughness.