The Nine Habits of The Mentally Tough

It’s important to build habitual mental resilience so we can deal with the inevitable changes and complications we face in life. These habits unfortunately are often not taught, nor are they universally understood en masse.

Habitual mental resilience isn’t rocket science, but it is more nuanced than simply adopting a stiff upper lip, a tough layer of skin, or a grin that can bare it. It takes awareness and practice to adopt and perfect the habits required to become more mentally resilient.

These habits are briefly summarised below.

Habit 1: Focus on what you can control

We only have a limited mental capacity to deal with all our physical and emotional needs. There is no point wasting large quantities of this resource on things we can’t control.

Habit 2: Bring success and failure into your own hands

By focusing only on what you can control you can determine the causes of your success and failure. If you succeed, you caused it. If you fail, you caused it. Doing this allows you to feel more in control of your environment as you can attribute your actions to observable outcomes.

Habit 3: Understand you are more powerful when friends and family are behind you.

No person described as ‘mentally tough’ would ever suggest they do it all alone. Having trusted friends and family to help support them is a vital part of their mental well being. Including people in your hard decisions, or reaching out when you are experiencing tough times an immeasurable impact on you ability to handle mental stress. “A problem shared, is a problem halved”.

Habit 4: They see the past as valuable experience

The past doesn’t guarantee future success, but it does provide experience from which we learn and develop from. This includes how to mentally handle stresses and prepare for future challenges. If you have been through a tough situation before, your experience prepares you for similar future events. In the same way your immune system works, your mental responses become less severe the more times you have experienced similar issues. U

Habit 5: Be comfortable with harsh criticism

Criticism is immensely valuable to our learning. We need perspective and criticisms to grow and learn. Adjusting your mind to listen to others’ feedback and embrace it, not to take offence or get upset, is a very powerful habit for mental growth.

Habit 6: Celebrate the success of others.

When others succeed it doesn’t preclude you from succeeding too. Resentment and bitterness are a waste of mental energy. Finding power in others’ success (and even being inspired by it) will pay back dividends for you.

Habit 7: Framing problems for positive outcomes

Re-orienting your frame of thinking about the problems you face is one of the most powerful habits for mental resilience. If you can take the time to understand your problem, and re-work it into something that empowers meaning and purpose from the situation then you can literally turn a negative into a positive.

Habit 8: Focus on impressing yourself.

You have to live with inner yourself more than anyone else. It’s therefore important to spend your mental energy doing things that impress your inner self before you try and impress others. This may include re-affirming your moral and ethical codes, and taking satisfaction from living by them, or by simply congratulating yourself for seeing out a task you’ve been working on.

Habit 9: Count what you have, not what you don’t have

Being grateful for what you have and not trying to “keep up with the Jones” is vital for mental health. Keeping this frame of mind will always ensure your outlook is one that is positive and fulfilled rather than negative and empty.

About the author — Aidan Kenealy

My mission is to help those with high growth businesses realise their vision for success. I draw from the unique lessons learned growing EMGN to help founders and CEOs get the best out of what their businesses can be.

If you would like to discuss how I can help you and your business — please reach out via LinkedIn or email

Professional startup advisor for founders of high growth startups. More details @

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