Words of Wellness: Mental toughness

By Dr. Diedre L. Wade
GCU Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Online Full-Time Faculty

Mental toughness = resilience + confidence + seeking out risk-taking opportunities.

We’ve all heard of people who are resilient, but mental toughness is a step above.

Mental toughness is built by putting oneself in “resilient building situations” (Wade, 2021, p. 69).

Those who are mentally tough know how to persist in difficult circumstances, but they also seek out these opportunities. Mentally tough individuals sign up for marathons or weightlifting competitions. They climb Mt. Everest.

You might not think of yourself as mentally tough. But those with mental toughness may work fulltime and go back to college, all while taking care of family members and other responsibilities. These individuals may have some apprehension, but the main factor is confidence and excitement about what might lie ahead.

Clough et al. (2002) came up with the 4 C’s of Mental Toughness:

  • Control: Having a sense of self-worth along with being able to control one’s emotions
  • Commitment: Sticking to high goals
  • Challenge: Pushing through obstacles and taking risks
  • Confidence: Believing one can achieve goals

When most people hear “mental toughness” and “physical wellness,” they may not correlate these with knowing when to ease up and take a break. Most tales of mental toughness involve pushing through tough times, even when one wants to give up.

However, research also shows that mental toughness is listening to one’s needs (physical and emotional/mental) and knowing when to take a break or to be flexible in one’s goals and adjust to come back even stronger (Crust et al., 2016; Jaeschke et al., 206; Surgent, 2007; Thelwell et al., 2010; Wade, 2021). The danger of not listening to your body is, of course, burnout and potentially injury.

I encourage you to think about your mental toughness.

  • How are you mentally tough?
  • What are some areas in which you could push yourself a bit more? 
  • What are some areas in which you might need to slow down or take a break?

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/