Are you mentally strong?
Actually, scrap that. Everyone has some degree of mental strength; the only thing that matters is whether you’re happy with how you handle the Critical Moments in your life.
Mental strength — also known as grit or mental toughness — refers to how you respond and perform under significant stress, pressure or adversity, how you deal with life’s challenges and how you recover from them.
But mental strength is hard to measure: How do you rate your stress response when you’re in the middle of it? How do you pinpoint when you’ve recovered from adversity? And do you ever fully recover from traumatic events — or do you just learn to live alongside them?
Test Your Mental Strength Here
Mental strength is founded on our unique combinations of things we can’t see or measure: biology, history, experience, insight, learning and tools.
Some people get a head start due to their genetics and the environments they are raised and live in, but mental strength can be built from wherever you are — and here’s the secret: You need to take on difficulty in order to be able to effectively deal with it.
Because from every difficult experience we get a chance to do one of two things — and, often, both.
(1) Bank the evidence for our ability to cope.
(2) Analyse and learn how we could have done better.
Knowing we can cope builds confidence and analysing/learning how to do better provides us with tools we can use in the future. All of which helps to better deal whatever challenges life hurls at us.
To check in on your baseline, take this test.
Answer each question with Mostly, Sometimes or Not Often.
- In a crisis I can remain calm and take useful actions for myself and others. (I can recall evidence for when I did this).
- I am generally optimistic. When tough times strike I believe it’s temporary and that I will be able to overcome it.
- When under pressure I can focus fully on what I need to do. (My attention doesn’t scatter).
- I adapt quickly to new situations and/or to change of any kind.
- I am able to find (appropriate) humour in most situations and I am able to laugh at myself.
- I can handle uncertainty; I don’t need to know for sure what is happening to feel okay.
- When stressed I have at least one reliable way of calming myself down (other than exercise, food, medication, drugs or porn).
- I have people in my life I can rely on and I’m not afraid to ask them for help.
- I have a healthy view of myself (I’d rate my self-worth 7/10 or higher).
- I have the emotional capacity to help and be strong for others.
- I am bold in my choices when I need to make change.
- I am self-reliant: able to function well (and happily) on my own when I need to.
- I trust my decision-making under pressure.
If you answered Mostly to most or all of the questions, great. You are mentally and emotionally robust and in a position to help/support others. Check in on what you do well and do what you need to do to stay there.
If you answered Sometimes to most or all of the questions, you are doing okay but you should definitely invest time in building your mental strength.
If you answered Not Often, take notice. There’s work to be done: growing your self-understanding and having a good awareness of your strengths will immeasurably improve your life.
Start Where You Are
“It is not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It is because we dare not venture that they are difficult.” — Seneca
Research indicates the number one quality we need to survive and thrive is ADAPTABILITY, to be able to think flexibly and to quickly adjust to change when necessary. The chaos and disruption in the world of the past year have flagged just how important adaptability is — and how a lack of it can fuel anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
So begin with your adaptability score. Check your answers to 4) and 6) and 11) and if they are not what you’d like — or need — them to be, identify a time where you backed off from a challenge or were negative about it. Ask yourself what you could have done differently. Then the next time you are challenged or need to take a chance, flex your mental muscle. Step forward, not back: it’ll make all the difference.
Thanks for reading! Join my email list here if you’re interested in practical psychology for everyday life.