Mental Toughness - How to Move Through Life

Why we need mental toughness

Mental toughness keeps you going even with insurmountable forces against your progress. Mental toughness separates those who fail and give up with those who fail and eventually succeed. Life is challenging and demanding. Life has no favorites. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.  

Think about how your life would be if you, as a baby, gave up trying to walk after falling down the first time. Life would be different if you stayed on the ground, crawling to get around because you gave up trying to stand up and walk. As you move into adulthood, the drive to fall down and continually get up fades away.

Now, think about how your life would be like if you gave up looking for a job after you got your first job rejection after completing a successful interview. If you give up too easily and quickly, perfect opportunities will pass you buy.   

Serial entrepreneurs go from start-up to start-up until they fully succeed. Jack Ma founded Alibaba, a commerce conglomerate that generated over 72 billion dollars in revenue in 2020. Jack Ma is the poster child of mental toughness as he failed multiple entrance exams and job interviews.

How to develop a tough mind

Remove self-limiting beliefs.

Self-limiting beliefs are ideas that prevent you from performing at your highest level.  

The most popular self-limiting beliefs include not applying for a job when a candidate possesses all the qualifications except for one, not getting into analytics because they cannot do mathematics, or everyone will laugh at the public speaking person.  

While some beliefs are a product of a bad experience in the past, many views are self-imposed and hold no basis in reality.

How to remove self-limiting beliefs:

  1. List your self-limiting beliefs
  2. Analyze why you have those beliefs
  3. Determine how you will react to those beliefs going forward
  4. Create affirmations to redirect negative thoughts
  5. Reinforce your affirmations daily
  6. Visualize your future self daily

Never dwell on the past.

You cannot change the past, and focusing on it does not help you much. Performing a post mortem on the past for lessons learned and action items are essential to consider, outside of the learning experience, you must move on and implement the lessons learned.

Also, dwelling on the past brings on fears and anxieties that affect your mental state today. You can impose self-limited beliefs on yourself based on the actions of the past.

Never go at it alone.

A study conducted to show the effects of crowds cheering with people eating. The participants must eat for a specific time. The first group ate without a crowd cheering them on. The second group ate while a group of people incited them to eat more. Over the same time, the participants who ate more food had an audience cheering them on. The study showed that performance increases when others are involved.

When you embark on a challenge, form a cheer group to help you when you feel demotivated. And when you succeed, sharing that success with others makes the achievement more meaningful.

Take responsibility for your life.

Taking responsibility plays along the self-limiting beliefs. As an adult, you are in control of your destiny! Consider the situation where you are not getting a promotion that you feel is appropriate. You worked smart (not worked hard) and delivered with higher expectations, and yet, you did not get recognition. If your management team is unwilling to promote you on your proven record of achievements, find a different management team. Do not blame your useless manager. Do not take it personally as the company may not have the funds to promote you. Do not criticize or blame others for the situation. These actions drain your physical and mental energy. Use that energy for yourself!  

Separate your emotions with your emotional response.

You interviewed for your dream job, and you did not get it. It is understandable for you to feel rejected and angry. What separates you from others is your emotional response to the news. When you rephrase the rejection as “It is their loss, not mine,” you will fall into the rabbit hole of despair and depression. Do a post mortem on the situation and honestly evaluate your performance. Did you interview well and speak confidently? Did you articulate your message in a way that clearly shows you can do the job well? One person has to win the prize, and the decision-making process is often elusive and irrational. If you performed your best, then move on. If you have areas for improvement, work on those actions. What you do next relates to taking responsibility for your life.


Life is challenging, and what will separate you from your success is how you deal with your roadblocks. A tough mind will keep you from deviating from your plans. When you go off track (it is inevitable), your mental strength will get you back on track faster. I would love to hear what you do to develop your mental toughness. Comment below to share with others!

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