The last eighteen months was a weird time, different than any of us ever experienced. The outbreak of the plague and the resulting crisis surely swung more than one of us. Lockdown has shuffled our values. The world we are returning to now is a different world than a world from before the pandemic. While there is a lot of talks now about building antiviral immunity, it is worth noting that this is not enough. We also need mental resilience.
Why do some people bounce back from personal failures and difficulties, while others find it much more difficult? Well, we’re not all equipped with the same reality coping kit. Luckily mental toughness is a quality that can be learned. The way we deal with external pressure is one of the most crucial character traits. But what exactly is mental resilience?
It is the ability to regenerate after experiencing trauma, as well as the ability to adequately respond to strong experiences, including positive ones. The concept of resilience combines with other constructs, such as positive psychology or attitudes. In the field of applied psychology, the precursors of this concept are, among others, Peter Clough, Dough Strycharczyk, and Keith Earl. Their theory is based on a so-called 4C model that comprises four components: confidence, control, commitment, and challenge. 1
Becoming mentally tough
Working on mental resilience must be based on adopting the right mindset and attitude. How does it relate to the 4c model?
- Challenge – taking up new challenges as an opportunity for success.
- Confidence – belief in your abilities.
- Commitment – persistence in striving for a goal.
- Control – a sense of real influence.
Building resilience is a process that takes time and regularity. Each of us can craft the tools to deal with the unexpected. Isn’t that what the crisis is – something we never expect?
What will give you the strength to endure everything?
Forming the proper coping mechanisms can help to strengthen resilience. This is a process, so prepare yourself for a lifelong journey and stock up on a set of skills that can be learned, cultivated and strengthened.
If you want to increase your mental resilience you need to focus on flexibility, adaptability and perseverance.
Everyone who wants to develop psychical resilience needs to focus on three things:
Self-awareness – How do you react to stimuli? What evokes strong emotions in you?
Proactive attitude – What can you do in the face of a change or event?
According to Strycharczyk and Cloughe studies2 methods for improving mental toughness spin around five themes:
- Positive Thinking
- Anxiety Control
- Goal Setting
- Attentional Control
How you feel is important. Your well-being has a huge impact on how you deal with challenges
What can you do? Create and cultivate daily habits that build mental muscle. You can exercise flexibility and adaptability by taking daily actions to distinguish reality from our interpretations of facts.
That will also help us control our feelings, and shape a positive mindset. In dealing with adversity, it is essential to realize that the only thing that is certain in life is change. Accepting this will save you a lot of trouble. Such an attitude helps in dealing with sudden unpleasant situations. And remember that no situation lasts forever – neither good nor worse.
So now you know how to start – just add to your daily dose of vitamins, garlic, and ginger some new habits that will strengthen you not only physically, but that will make you mentally tough.
1 Clough, Earle, & Sewell, 2002.
2 Strycharczyk and Cloughe, Developing Mental Toughness, Kogan Page, 2012.