A Navy SEAL teaches how to develop mental toughness

Eric Sof

U.S. Navy SEALs on Jet Skis at undisclosed location night

Being tough isn’t about your physical abilities, it is about your mental strength. How many times you had to think about toughness, ask yourself are you tough enough? Well, to be tough, you may need some practice.

Regardless of your particular career aspirations, there’s no denying the fact that a little mental fortitude can go a long way towards helping you achieve your career goals and find success in all facets of life. It’s true — mental toughness, when handled properly, helps you command respect from colleagues and peers, advocate for your point of view on projects, negotiate effectively, and will give you the confidence to know you’re capable and worthy of success.

The truth is, some of us just seem to naturally have reserves of mental toughness in abundance and at the ready whenever it’s needed, while others among us need a little more help. If you’re the sort that can use a little guidance when it comes to mental toughness, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

When you hear the term Navy SEAL,” you automatically think tough — both physically and mentally. After all, Navy SEALs are the best of the best, the toughest of the tough, individuals who are hand-selected to try out for this elite group. Although toughness is a minimum requirement for even being selected to try out for the Navy SEALs, the truth is that only a very small percentage of folks in this elite group make it through training, and to call it a rigorous process doesn’t do it justice. That said, when you meet someone who’s made it through and has become a SEAL, their toughness is not only a given — it’s an understatement. And when they’re willing to share strategies for developing mental toughness, you better listen!

Two navy seals navigating through swamp
Two Navy SEALs navigating through the swamp during the training (Photo: XY)

Mark Divine, a 20-year Navy SEAL veteran, recently shared his thoughts on building lasting mental strength on mindbodygreen.com. Divine is a firm believer in “mind over body” — that if you set your mind to a specific goal or task there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving it. He discussed 4 core tips that anyone can use for building a rock-solid mental mindset.

1. Determine your purpose

To be able to focus your full mental energy in a specific direction in life, you first must determine and find what that purpose is. Mark Divine has created the following list of helpful questions that you should ask yourself to determine your purpose in life:

  • What have you been conditioned to think you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • What do you think you are supposed to do with your life?
  • What do you feel you are supposed to do with your life?
  • Is there a tiny voice of doubt deep within you suggesting you are on the wrong track?
  • Is that same voice nudging you forward with the sensation that you are on the right track?
  • What ONE thing do you think you are here for? What ONE thing would you focus on if you had nothing holding you back?
  • What would you do differently if you knew you had one year to live?

These questions should be asked and answered as honestly as possible to get to your life’s purpose. Once you have a goal, it’s easy to envision yourself achieving it, and the very act of doing so can help boost your confidence and mental fortitude, allowing you to charge forward.

2. Focus on yourself

Mark Divine asserts that a deep inward focus is a key to building true self-awareness in life, which ultimately leads to what he terms an “unbeatable mind” — which is the foundation of mental toughness. A nuanced and multi-faceted self-awareness can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes you’ve made in the past, which may have kept you from achieving your goals. Divine suggests that an excellent approach for building self-awareness and an unbeatable mind is to take a few minutes each day to meditate, think inwardly, and maintain a journal. This will allow you to connect with your true inner self and grow stronger.

Navy SEALs during BUD/s training in the pool
Navy SEALs during BUD/s training (Photo: U.S. Navy)

3. Determine your path

Once you have a real purpose, born of true introspection and self-awareness, Mark Divine suggests that you determine your path for achieving success. Most goals have multiple possible pathways, but the truth is that they may not all be right for you. Confronting the reality of your current situation will help you determine the most effective path forward, which will help you flex and grow your mental muscles.

4. Support your purpose with a healthy life and external support

Mark Divine believes that a strong and healthy mind requires a strong and healthy body. A good diet and plenty of exercises are essential for constructing a rock-solid mindset, which will power you to attack your life goals. He also acknowledges that, like most things in life, having a strong support system in place can go a long way to being successful. A group of positive and like-minded friends, family, and colleagues can make all the difference as you go through life and charge forward towards the goals you’ve set for yourself.

There you have it — strategies for building mental toughness and going after your goals from someone who knows what it takes. Take full advantage of Mark Divine’s advice on developing a strong mindset, and before long there’ll be no stopping you! Do something for yourself.

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