Updated: Oct 31
Mental strength seems to be something we think about more often in our personal lives. However, when faced with challenges at work, mental toughness can be what tides us through an extremely difficult day, or episode at work.
Consider all the times you have had unpleasant conversations at the workplace or had to deal with unfortunate situations. These events can bring extremely high levels of stress and unhappiness, making you dread going to work. It can be tempting to throw in the towel – and a resignation.
Yet, while some of us see challenges and setbacks as impenetrable barriers at work, mentally strong people press on and look for solutions. They set themselves apart from the crowd and advance in their career. Mental resilience is one of the most important soft skills and gifts that we should give to ourselves. Not only does it make work more pleasant, but it allows us to push ourselves further and take on more responsibilities.
As a recruitment agency, we see our recruitment consultants face rejection constantly, not just by clients but by candidates as well. Even our top recruiters must face many rejections before they achieve their goals. A strong mind and mental resilience are what keeps us going! Here are some of the behaviors and mindsets we practice to build mental strength and we suggest you try them too.
6 Ways to Build Mental Strength
1. Reflect on your weaknesses
This starts with the need to increase self-awareness, i.e., to take a good look at yourself and be ready to accept that you aren’t going to like everything that you see. It involves pushing yourself to discover what you need to work on, and what you should be doing differently. In other words, it is also looking at yourself and acknowledging your weaknesses.
This is hard because it is always more comfortable to keep the blinders on. Sometimes, your weaknesses may be pointed out by someone you deal with at work and criticism, even when constructive, can be difficult to stomach. But mentally strong people make certain that they actively reflect on their flaws and work on improving themselves.
2. Rise above your fears
Bravery is being terrified to do something and still doing it anyway. It is also about toughing yourself up mentally to tackle new challenges. We may argue that there is no harm staying in your haven, but leaving that comfortable shelter is what pushes you to rise in your career. You build mental strength when you step out of your comfort zone as you expose yourself to new experiences.
The fear doesn’t have to come from something as extreme as bungee jumping if you are afraid of heights; it can be a fear of public speaking or trying for a promotion. Chip away slowly at what you are afraid off by building courage. If you are afraid of public speaking, start by speaking up more at team meetings. As you gain confidence, ask for opportunities and work your way up to bigger presentations.
3. Allow yourself to fail
Facing your fears and being brave is applaudable. However, you also have to persevere. Building your mental strength is not something that can be done over the course one action. There has to be constant, sustainable exposure to the source of anxiety, and many times, people tend to give up. Do not despair when you encounter failure, and do not give up because you are tired or uncomfortable. Increase mental strength by focusing on your goals, not on momentary feelings, and keep going even when things are hard.
Remember that failing does not mean you are a failure. Also, don’t let the opinions of others keep you from chasing your dreams. Steve Jobs’, too, was allegedly fired from his own company once, but he came back stronger than ever.
4. Be secure in who you are
People who have a strong sense of self or self-concept can better establish boundaries. Sense of self is a an individual's perception of themselves and can include how they perceive, judge and define themselves in a variety of situations and relationships.
People who have a strong sense of self are secure in who they are and do not need to constantly seek validation from others to define themselves. They are also more emotionally strong because they do not let setbacks pull them down as they do not take unpleasant events or interactions personally. This helps them achieve more and be productive even when they face challenges at work. They are able to stay on course at what they want to do and recognize what needs to be done even when met with doubt from other people.
5. Let go of grudges
If you feel that holding on to a grudge will spur you on and eventually motivate you to emerge victorious, you may be wrong.
Harboring a grudge can cause you more harm than hurt the object of your resentment and is a stress response – it prevents you from processing the experience and moving forward from the issue. It weighs you down and diminishes your mental resilience, clouding your ability to make sound decisions. Regardless of your intentions, you may find it difficult to resist acting against your best judgement, trapping you in a loop of unpleasant interactions.
To be mentally strong also means you must preserve your mental resilience. Hence, the better plan will be to acknowledge the incident and move forward. Treat everyone with respect and focus on the issue at hand, regardless of any mood swing you may be experiencing.
6. Stay away from negativity
Negative people does not mean “bad people”. However, the negative energy they hold on to are bad news. Negative individuals tend to wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. Often, we feel pressured to listen to negative people because we don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear to someone and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral or developing one of our own.
This is also why we say having a strong sense of self and letting go of grudges is important, because this is where boundaries need to be set. By setting limits and distancing yourself from negative people, when necessary, helps to preserve your mental resilience.
Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Success lies in the ability to rise in the face of failure, and we can’t do this if we are living in the past and do not have the mental strength to face times of adversity.
Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens—your past becomes your present and prevents you from moving forward. So, start practicing these 6 behaviors today and begin building up your mental strength!