Have you ever thought of yourself as a mentally weak person?
As of 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) claims that approximately more than 264 million people suffer from depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered depression for many, but stress at work or in private life can create problems for our mental wellbeing.
When we lose our internal balance, it affects our performance capabilities and communication abilities. It also increases the risk to trigger mental illnesses such as depression, insomnia, and panic disorders. To avoid this, we want to train our mental strength so that it’s strong enough to combat these life adversities.
- What Does It Mean to Be Mentally Strong or Weak?
- 5 Mental Strength Training Methods to Try Now
- Strengthen The Mind and Body Through Mental Training
What Does It Mean to Be Mentally Strong or Weak?
・No One Is Mentally Strong to Begin With
First of all, what does it mean to be mentally “strong” or “weak”?
Mental strength isn’t a given strength people have. It’s more about how good you are at navigating through emotions when a negative incident occurs.
For example, lets’ say a man was given the opportunity to do a presentation at his company. Over a few days, he gathers information, creates the necessary files for it, and presents everything at the end. However, the boss responds with very critical feedback. How does this man react to that critical feedback?
Scenario 1: Let me incorporate what he said and try again
Scenario 2: I’m not going to care about it too much
Scenario 3: I tried so hard, yet all I got was a critical opinion on it
Scenario 1 is a response from someone who is positive that tries to grow towards their next opportunity. Scenario 1 is the most ideal way to navigate your emotions. Instead of facing away from the problem, they improve their skills so that they can prepare and build their mental tolerance towards the issue.
At a quick glance, the scenario 2 response seems like a response from someone who is mentally strong. However, this does not consider fixing the situation to prepare for future possibilities. This response is effective in brushing off malicious and offensive acts carried out towards a person. It is important to assess how important the situation is before you choose this option
The most problematic is scenario 3. A negative response to feedback only grows negative emotions within that leads to a loss of self-esteem. This is spotted in people that are always too serious or are perfectionists. When they can’t achieve their ideal goals, they tend to self-sabotage.
・It’s Important to Shift Your Thoughts
When there’s an inconvenient event that happens, we feel unpleasant. After the unpleasant feelings, it turns into negative emotions of frustration or anxiety. This shift from unpleasant to negative emotion is part of how the brain reacts and we cannot change this mechanism.
Most people who are mentally vulnerable tend to be affected by these negative emotions that arise. Eventually, they feel trapped in a negative cell from the illusion that they’ve created.
People who are considered mentally strong are capable of shifting their thinking more positively before they get affected by these negative emotions.
This thought shift is a vital skill. If we use the example from above in the case of the presentation getting critical feedback from the boss, you can shift your thinking into the positive by focusing on your potential growth from this experience.
5 Mental Strength Training Methods to Try Now
Just like muscle strength or endurance training, we can build out our mental strength so that we become more tolerant of adversities. Below, we introduce the 5 training methods we recommend for you to try.
Method 1: Self-Reflect Through Self-Talk
By changing the pronouns while you talk to yourself, you can create a second-person dialogue. This allows you to see your situation from a distance so that you can see things more clearly and objectively.
You can specifically shift the dialogue by using first-person, second-person, and third-person pronouns. Below are examples if we continue the scenario of presenting and receiving critical feedback from the boss.
“I’m super nervous. I’ve perpared well, but I wonder if everyone will understand.”
“Hey, you don’t have to feel so nervous. You’ve prepared well, so all you have to do is present with confidence.”
“He doesn’t have to feel that nervous. He prepared well. I’m sure people will understand if he presents with confidence.”
As you can see, talking to yourself as if you were another person creates the necessary distance to gain clarity.
Method 2: Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness is a way of thinking that enhances the experience of the present “now.” Mindfulness meditation is applied in cognitive behavioral therapy within the mental health field.
It focuses on subtle sensory signs of the body, such as how it feels when a single bean is placed on the palm of your hand. The focus on these subtle actions helps steer our thoughts away from negativity. Once we displace ourselves from a position of stress, we can recognize new aspects that lead to solving the problem itself.
- Sit with a straight back
- Close your eyes and feel your breath
- If your thoughts start to wander, bring back the attention to the breath
These 3 points are all you need to practice mindfulness meditation. Start from 3 to 5 minutes of practice and then expand to 10 minutes or 15 minutes as you go.
Method 3: Think Like a Fly on the Wall
The Fly On The Wall method is a great way to gain objectivity. As the word spells it out, you act as if you’re a fly on the wall as if you could understand the situation with a bird’s-eye view.
This method is test proven through an experiment at Ohio University and known to be effective as a stress care method. Similar to mindfulness meditation, it requires no tool.
The most important technique in this is to create an external view of what’s happening to yourself.
You’ll be affected less by negative emotions once you learn how to separate your emotions and actual reality. You don’t have to be a fly. It could be another bug, a cloud, a light pole. By continuing this practice, you train your mind to constantly take an objective perspective and this helps cool down anger when it arises.
Method 4: Organize Your Thoughts on a Piece of Paper
If a negative incident is straining your thoughts, try writing it all out on a piece of paper.
The content should be based on what happened and how you felt.
- I got into a fight with a friend – Unhappy
- I had to go to work on a day off – Sad
- I got stuck in traffic – Frustrating
When we write out how we feel on a piece of paper, the visualization of our feelings helps organize our thoughts. The understanding of why we feel unhappy or frustrated will give us the opportunity to recognize our biases and negative beliefs.
Negativity is contagious so it’s easy to roll down the negative spiral once you’re in it. Write out all your feelings and organize your thoughts. See if you can capture things in a more positive light.
Method 5: Learn How to Build Automatic Positivity
Mental weakness comes from us reacting negatively to incidents. This is called “automatic thinking,” and when our automatic thoughts are steered negatively it can trigger a state of depression.
However, this tendency can be fixed through training by continually focusing on the 3 points below:
- Reflect on your past success
- Think positive thoughts if you ever feel yourself getting negative
- Think of the influences that positive memories bring
First, recall a positive success memory. It can be anything from receiving a compliment or a good score on a test. Think of what elements produced the results and try to unravel the secrets to your success and failures. Continually recalling your success will automatically kick your thoughts into positive gear.
It’s also helpful to recall how you’ve overcome failure. If you ever feel negative, remember the moment you grew from your failures. Perhaps it’s now a great story to tell or you recognize how important someone was to you. Try to understand the past as a positive event that made you who you are today.
If your friends encouraged you through failures, you can take it that you have great friends. If you’re able to make it into a great story from the past, perhaps you have the whit to do so. Sprinkle these positive aspects into your mind and this will help create an automated process towards positive thinking.
Strengthen The Mind and Body Through Mental Training
We talked about strengthening our mental tolerance through training, but weakness has its benefits too.
If you tend to be sensitive to small incidents, another way to see it is that you are expressive and have a strong sensibility. If you feel anxiety and pressure, it could mean that you feel more responsible than others.
If you feel that you’re mentally weak and need the training to build mental tolerance, just make sure that you don’t lose the great aspects that you already have. We hope you keep your unique greatness as an individual while building out parts that need support for a more enjoyable life!
Nowadays, an AI can help you on your mental journey without any restrictions on time schedule, or location. The more you interact, the more adequate advice it can give. It’s an affordable alternative counseling method with a free trial period. Give it a try!