How To Develop Mental Toughness In Life | 12 Powerful Ways


In this post I’m going to talk about how to develop mental toughness in life. Building mental strength is essential to living a happy and successful life, as you will need mental toughness to effectively deal with challenges that life throws your way. Most people don’t even realise you should be training your mind.

Just as people go to the gym to lift weights to build strong muscles, you must also develop your mental health by using daily techniques to build a strong mind. If you don’t have a strong mind then over time, the daily grind will take it’s toll on you mentally and will completely drain your emotional energy.

When you set goals, you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be a smooth path to success. Things will get difficult, you will fail multiple times, and you will lose hope will discourage you and make you want to quit. How do you overcome this? By developing a level of mental toughness that will help you push beyond these obstacles.

It doesn’t matter matter who you are or what you currently believe, anybody can build the mental toughness required to be successful. So let’s look at the tips and tricks on how to develop mental toughness in life.

How To Develop Mental Toughness In Life

The 4 C’s of Mental Toughness

#1. Control

Control is considered as your self-esteem and is based around how much control you feel like you have over your life in terms of your emotions and life purpose. If you feel like you have a low level of control then this means you feel like you have no control over any events that happen in your life.

Feeling comfortable in your own skin and having a good sense of who you are as a person means you are high on the control scale.

#2. Commitment

Commitment is measured on reliability and your personal focus. Your average person will find it very hard to set and prioritize goals and will be easily distracted. Somebody who is high on the commitment scale will have the ability to set goals and successfully achieve them.

The control and commitment scales both represent what’s know as resilience which is part of the mental toughness definition. This is crucial aspect needed to be successful as you will be required to have the ability to bounce back from any setbacks. Doing this enables you to make changes in your life because you know you are fully in control of any situation.

#3. Challenge

Most people steer away from a challenge and see it as a threat because of the fear of failing. Building mental toughness allows you to be high on the challenge scale which enables you to see change and challenges as an opportunity rather than a threat.

#4. Confidence

Somebody operating low on the confidence scale means they do not have the belief in their ability that they can influence other people and successfully complete tasks. The flip side of this is somebody high on the confidence scale who can confidently complete tasks and deals with setbacks in an exceptional manner.

Both the challenge and confidence scales combined make up the confidence part of the mental toughness definition. This means you have the ability to easily identify new opportunities whilst having the confidence to tackle to take action and explore the opportunity.

What Makes Someone Mentally Tough?

If your wanting to learn how to develop mental toughness in life, you will need to know what actually makes somebody mentally tough.

  • Mentally tough athletes: Never miss workouts and are always consistent.
  • Mentally tough leaders: Consistently hit goals regardless of any negative feedback.
  • Mentally tough artists, writers,and employees: They approach their work with a schedule in a professional manner who perform well on a consistent basis.

As you can see, being consistent is the main key to success.

The benefits of mental toughness

Here are some of the reasons why you would want to build mental toughness:

  • conquers self-doubt
  • keeps you motivated
  • helps you tune out unhelpful advice
  • you’ll learn from your mistakes
  • provides courage to face your fears
  • assists you in bouncing back from failure
  • helps you regulate your emotions

How To Develop Mental Toughness In Life

#1 Develop a Positive Mindset

One of the most crucial aspects when learning how to develop mental toughness is to develop a positive mind. Let’s take a look at some facts:

  • The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day.
  • Of those thoughts, around 95% of them repeat every day.
  • 80% of repeated thoughts are negative.
  • This means you will have roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day.

When you look at it like this, it’s no wonder that most people walk around in life feeling mentally and emotionally drained. We can fix this by looking at some of the most prominent types of negative thoughts.

Let go of self-limiting beliefs

The first step is to start being consciously aware of any negative or self-limiting thoughts entering your mind. The problem is, most people run on autopilot due to the subconscious mind and do not even realize they are being so negative. When you become consciously aware of these thoughts, you can quickly silence them by using positive affirmations.

“I love and accept myself for who I am.”
“I radiate and receive love and respect.”
“I am loved and respected wherever I go.”
“I am unique in my talents and abilities and do not validation from others.”
“People see value in my services and I am rewarded graciously.”
“I am self-reliant, creative and persistent in whatever I do.”

All-or-nothing thinking

This is the concept of thinking you are either a success or a failure which is an extreme way of thinking. Again this is about being consciously aware of these thoughts. As soon as an all-or-nothing thought enters your mind, always look for the positives in the situation.


Both self-limiting beliefs and all-or-nothing thinking can lead you to dwell on the negative. In order for you to build mental strength and toughness, you will have to stop dwelling. We are all human and we all feel upset or disappointed at certain events or situations. Your allowed to feel like this but the key is reduce the amount of time that you dwell on a situation.

The longer you stay in that dwelling zone, the more it will create a negative mindset. If you are dwelling, here’s what you can do:

  • Call a friend to get some outside perspective on the situation.
  • Time block your dwelling. No longer than one hour.
  • Realise your human and allowed to make mistakes.
  • Distract Yourself.
  • Mindfulness and meditation.

Further education on developing a positive mindset:

#2 Identify things you’re grateful for

Being grateful actually has a big impact on your psychological health. Studies have shown that gratitude reduces depression and can increase your levels of happiness. The best way to do this is to keep a journal. every morning you wake up and every evening before you go to sleep, write a list of all of the things you are grateful of in life.

#3 Having a strong ‘why’ or purpose

A crucial element to building mental toughness is to having a strong purpose for everything you set out to do. When trying to achieve a goal, if you do not have a strong reason why you are doing it, you’ll find that you will lose motivation which leads to becoming distracted and discouraged. Always have a  strong “why” or purpose for every single goal.

#4 Setting Goals To Define what mental toughness means for you

We have just looked at having a strong purpose for everything you do, let’s now take a look at setting goals in more detail. Setting goals and having the ability to achieve them in actionable steps will develop will-power and mental resilience. It’s good to have long term goals, but these should be broken up into smaller more achievable goals.

Doing this will allow you to see success on a more regular basis which will keep you motivated to keep moving forward. When your learning how to develop mental toughness in life, it will not just happen by thinking your way to becoming mentally strong. You achieve this by goal setting and taking big action.

#5 Learn to Pick Yourself Back Up After Setbacks

It’s inevitable that you are going to face many setbacks and failures on your journey towards reaching your goal. This doesn’t mean you don’t have mental toughness, as we are human and we all fail. It’s the way we deal with the situation that truly defines who we are. Always ask yourself the following questions:

“Am I being too hard on myself?”
“Are negative thoughts such as Self-Limiting Beliefs or All-or-Nothing Thinking distorting my view?”
“What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
“Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
“Is this goal still important to me? Do I still have a ‘why’?”
“Who can I ask for help?

#6 Mental toughness is more about habits than motivation

To truly build mental toughness you will need to turn it into a habit which will enable you to overcome challenges and stick to a schedule over and over again. There may be people more talented or more intellectual than you, but if you can be consistent then you will achieve your goals and build mental toughness.

Here’s a system for building a new habit which allows you to focus on important things no matter what obstacles life throws your way.

  • Build your identity.
  • Focus on small goals and behaviours.
  • Build a routine that you can stick to even when you are not feeling motivated.
  • Don’t worry about results, just stick to a schedule.
  • Leave any failures in the past, just keep moving forward.

If you want to learn about forming habits in more-depth, here’s a great article I wrote which you can find on the blog.

How To Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones:

#7 Controlled exposure.

Controlled exposure is used to help people overcome any fears by gradually exposing them to anxiety-provoking situations. A great example of this is something that a lot of people have fear of, and that’s public speaking. The way you would go about this is to start off in front of two or three people and progressively increase the numbers.

You can do this alone but it’s advised that you seek the help of a therapist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This kind of therapy can increase your self-esteem which is one of the key factors in developing mental toughness.

#8 Evaluate your core beliefs

Core beliefs are are developed over time and are based on ourselves and the world in general. These beliefs are based upon past experiences and can influence your thoughts and behavior, even if you are not aware of it. A lot of these thoughts can be very negative which leads people to saying things such as “I’m a failure”, or “nothing ever goes right for me”.

The trouble with thinking this way is that it can lead to use missing great opportunities, or having the fear to try out new goals because we think we are going to fail. You will have to be consciously aware of your core beliefs in able for you to evaluate them. It requires hard work but once you have these thoughts under control, it can change your life and develop mental toughness.

#9 Practice mindfulness to expand your mental energy wisely

A common thing I come across almost everyday in my life is seeing people stress and worry about situations they have no control of. If you do this on a regular basis then this can drain your mental energy very quickly. The key is to focus only on the things you have control over. Worrying about something that happened at work last week or being paranoid that something bad is going to happen in the future makes it impossible for you to stay strong.

The way to expand your mental energy wisely is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, the here-and-now. Being present eliminates stressful thoughts from the past, and any worries you have of the future. Science proves that mindfulness has both physical and psychological benefits.

  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias
  • Prevent And Treat Depression
  • Increase Body Satisfaction
  • Improves Cognition
  • Help The Brain Reduce Distractions

Further Education and Recommendations

If you want to learn more on mindfulness, I high suggest the following:

#10 Replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts

Most of us are not truly aware of our thoughts as they are run on autopilot by your subconscious mind. Becoming consciously aware of your thinking habits will help build resilience and help you develop a more positive mind. We all have these exaggerated, negative thoughts such as “I can never do anything right”.

These kind of thoughts hold you back from achieving your true potential. The key is to catch these thoughts before they spiral out of control. If you do this on a daily basis then you will form a habit of doing this which becomes easier over time.

#11 Practice visualisation

Visualisation is the process of using your imagination to experience new behaviors or winning inside your head, which you can then take into the outside world. Elite athletes in sports all around the world have been using visualisation techniques with great success for decades.

Here are the benefits of visualisation:

  • Activates your subconscious which generates creative ideas to help you achieve your goals.
  • Programs your brain to recognise and perceive resources you will need to start achieving your dreams.
  • Activates the law of attraction which will draw into your life the essential people and circumstances required to achieve your goals.
  • Builds internal motivation.

#12 Set Aside Time to Move Your Body

Your mind and body are one and go hand-in-hand. Exercise can increase the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain which enhances our moods. Poor physical health can lead to poor mental health and vice versa.

Other benefits include:

  • Enhanced mood and energy
  • Reduced stress
  • Deeper relaxation
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Learning
  • Insight
  • Memory and cognitive functioning
  • Enhanced intuition
  • Creativity
  • Assertiveness and enthusiasm for life
  • Higher self-esteem


Hope you enjoyed this post on how to develop mental toughness in life. You should now have all the knowledge required to start building mental toughness and achieving all of your goals in life.

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How To Develop Mental Toughness In Life | 12 Powerful Ways

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