How to work on mental toughness and why do you need it

Abhishek Kale
9 min readJun 13, 2017

So what is mental toughness really? , does your brain develop some kind of muscles? Or those words are
Just used by coaches and trainers to beat you up and push you to your limits while you train.

Mental toughness is an anecdotal term rather than a scientific one, however it plays a great deal in our daily lives. Anecdotal meaning that it’s based on the observation of unscientific observers. This does not mean it’s not real, When you see King Leonidas kick the Egyptian messenger into the well screaming at the top of his lungs “This is Sparta” While the guy who got kicked was just threatening him that his entire country will be destroyed, you can say for sure

That requires mental toughness.

Now if you binge watch TV shows as much as I do, to be honest I don’t do that often, but when I do it, it’s intense. Then You know it takes mental toughness to survive in a post-apocalyptic world in “The walking dead”, Game of thrones fans Anyone? Actually let’s just be honest we all love GOT. To finally paint a clear picture in your head of what mental toughness is

And what isn’t, I will share a small example right below this line.

“Arya Stark is mentally tough, Sansa stark not as much. Well she is learning now, maybe you should make her read this post.

The top 3 reasons for why you need mental toughness

Reason 1. It will make you confident

“Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong.” — Peter McIntyre

Not taking anything personally, admitting that you don’t know everything as you are not god and willing to admit you are wrong with a big smile on your face can do more wonders for you than you can imagine.

Majority of people take other people’s opinion about themselves way too seriously, opinions of others are their perception about the world and not you. We are what our perception makes us.

That particular instance where you become concerned of what other’s might think of you, just remember it’s their opinion and not your reality, you might be bad at doing something right now but you will not remain like that forever.

You are a steadfast person working on yourself. Being mentally tough allows you to completely accept your current state in life, understand the difference between your reality and other’s perception and lets you wander in the world confidently.

Mentally tough people can easily say “I don’t know it, could you please explain?” as they are grounded in their reality and completely understand that they only need to know about things that matter to their life goals and as one person you don’t have time to learn everything there is in the world.

That’s why they interact confidently, with ease and always welcome resourceful input from others. That’s why we are social creatures, we thrive on exchanging information, like the internet, like this blog post.

Mentally tough people know curiosity and the eagerness to learn matters, not knowing everything.

Mentally tough people can also admit if they commit a mistake, because they have a strong sense of purpose and character.

They are ready to make a right from a wrong, they don’t hesitate in taking initiative to correct something or fix something that requires their attention.

Everything they do, they understand it’s an opportunity for growth. Their strong belief in themselves, lets them take such bold actions. Now I can keep on going about just this one point, however I think now you have a clear idea of being mentally tough will help you be confident.

Reason 2. It will make you fearless

“Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.” — Will Smith (After Earth)

Mental toughness means standing strong in the face of danger, now we are not in the movie After Earth to stand against terrifying looking alien beasts however we have other terrifying things to face in our everyday lives. You can probably think of multiple scenarios where you need to take a strong stance.

Trying something new for the first time, like if you always wanted to be a singer, say not professionally but at least learn singing and sing for your local crowd, then you need mental toughness. A presentation that you have to give in an upcoming office meeting or a speech in front of a crowd in an auditorium.

Maybe finally join a swimming class to come over your water phobia. Learn to break a brick by your bare hands via martial arts. Okay, trust me on this one, if those 2 things are not on your list right now, you should probably give it a thought.

Cause according to our scientists and internet an alien invasion is prominent in September 2017 and also the world could end like it did in the movie 2012, those 2 skills will come in handy, just a thought you know.

Coming back to the point of it making you fearless. The ability to do something even after it seems uncomfortable, challenging or down right terrifying comes through having mental toughness.

It opens up a whole new world to you, you start exploring the world, tasting new waters and acquiring new skills that will help you in leading a more fulfilling life.

Now according to the quote above, Danger is very real, you risk messing things up, however “If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.”

The ability to make a choice in the face of fear, to go beyond it and emerge victorious at the other end is possible by being mentally tough.

Reason 3. You will understand everything is a learning curve

“Every activity worth doing, has a learning curve.” — Seth Godin

Life is an activity worth doing. Living life to your fullest potential is worth doing. Becoming what you dream of becoming is worth doing. You read the quote above right?

It’s like bodybuilding, muscles break while you work out, you eat right, rest and recover, they grow back into stronger and bigger muscles, new tissues are formed as well. Same with life, you fall, stand back up, dust yourself and continue on your path.

Ever tried drawing a perfect circle with just your hands, with no precision equipment? I suggest you to try that. Take a pencil, start drawing circles quickly, if you continue this exercise for a month or two, before you know, with plain simple bare hands you will be drawing perfect circles.

The earlier weird looking shapes presumably which should have been circles are the learning curves you went through. Eventually with practice and patience you conquered something you set out to get.

Mental toughness allows you to be at peace and ease even if things are going wrong. It allows you to keep going in the direction of your progress all the time. You don’t feel disheartened or disappointed. All you see everywhere are the various learning curves of life.

The 3 main benefits of developing mental toughness have been laid out in front of you, now let’s jump into knowing how to achieve it.

Step 1. Exercise

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” — Jillian Michaels

Now wait, don’t panic or judge, just read contemplatively. Your body is a temple where your mind lives. Your body is the car, the mind is the driver. A good driver cannot race a bad car and vice versa.

Strengthening this two goes hand in hand. Your body will build new muscles and so will your mind in the form of new neuron transmitters, new connection pathways.

New connection pathways in the brain equals to new ways of thinking and doing things, new way of how your body functions. Working out requires fair amount of will power and determination.

If you are someone who has never done a single push up or squat until now in your lifetime then it will hurt as well. However the good news is, when you train your mind and body to bear the pain and discomfort in pursuit of a greater goal, like building a great physique, you will develop mental toughness.

Being tough is all about walking through hell with a smile on your face. Yeah yeah don’t nudge me now, I admit that’s a line from the song ‘Hall of fame by The Script.” Just add that one to your motivational songs playlist already.

Take one step at a time, Start small, and Start from doing 10 pushups every day, keep adding more as you get stronger, add more exercises and stay consistent, you will be amazed within 30 days that how resilient and focused you are becoming slowly, slowly.

Step 2. Do something religiously

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Pick something that you want to do regularly, it could be anything at all, if I were you, I would probably learn 10 new words of a new language every day, well that’s my choice.

I might decide to stick to a new fitness regime I under took no matter what comes my way, no matter how busy I get. I might decide to write 2 blogs every week. Just make a decision about how you would like to invest your time and in what and get working on it.

Say to yourself that in the upcoming 12 weeks, which roughly equates to 3 months, you will do something every single day and with the quality you intend of doing it. Trust me this can be a life changing experience, just doing something every single day without fail and making little progress every day teaches you a lot of things. It pushes you outside your comfort zone.

You have to go to and beyond your measures to ensure that you successfully complete what you have set out to do. The amount of patience, the ability to endure delayed gratification in the world of instant gratification will work wonders. Checkout an interesting Tedx talk on the same issue and mental toughness here.

The resilience and one pointedness you will develop will prime you for any challenge that life will throw at you.

The belief that you will develop in yourself, that if you set your mind onto something, you can make it happen. Is priceless.

Step 3. Wake up Early morning, 5 am maybe?

“Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction.” — Author Unknown

Finally you agree with me immediately don’t you? I know the whole world will agree upon this with me. Everyone knows this is the most monumental challenge a human can face every single day.

Waking up early.

Waking up early has a lot of benefits, you have time to read, time to work out, time to plan your day, meditate etc. It’s totally up to you how you utilize the extra hours every day you gift yourself by waking up early. A lot more can be accomplished in a day than usual.

Your day starts on an achievement note, a positive note, the moment you get out of your bed and began your day this early, you know and feel that you have begun changing your life one day at a time, 3 to 5 hours early than everybody else.

This can set the tone right for the whole day, Research suggests that waking up early makes you feel positive throughout the day. You become more optimistic about your life and have a greater sense of wellbeing.

Take this challenge head on, become an early riser, your mental toughness will sky rocket as you do this. Utilize those extra hours you get in implementing any of the above or do something that requires no disturbance during this time, you will feel light throughout the day.

This is a true challenge that will make you mentally tough.


Here’s the whole blog In a nutshell.

Challenge yourself to do challenging things. Don’t run away from them, keep doing them until it hurts if you will but do not quit. One day all that will be a breeze for you.

Remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Exercise regularly, push yourself physically every day. Wake up early and do more every day.

Importance of doing something religiously is far more than you can expect, the lessons you will learn along the way are priceless. Learn new things, don’t be too hard on yourself or get bothered by the opinions of others.

Life is a learning curve, enjoy the process.

Originally published at on June 13, 2017.



Abhishek Kale

The world is your playground if you keep an open mind and seek. At soulo, we seek sound from the noise of world wisdom. Start seeking — →