One of the highlights of defining Mental Strength is that it can be easily understood in a world full of less defined concepts. Not understanding what the term means prevents us from being able to implement it in our livers
The term Mental Strength has some elements of its definition, such as character, which are loosely defined.
Some leading authorities will define the same term in a different way. At this time, this does not apply to the term Mental Strength.
Professors Peter Clough and Dr. Keith Earle have provided research throughout the years that has enabled mental toughness to be defined in a clear and simple way that is widely accepted.
How is Mental Strength Defined?
There are two definitions that have emerged in recent times, both agreeing on many aspects of the definition.
According tough Clough and Earle, Mental Strength is first the capacity that an individual has to deal effectively with the stressors, challenges and pressure to present their best performance in spite of their circumstances (2012), and according to Clough & Strycharczyk, it is also part of the personality trait that contributes the large part of how an individual deal with stress, the pressures and challenges facing the no matter what the situation is around them (2012).
First of all, the most recent research has shed understanding on Mental Strength as not only a personality trait, but it has also emerged as a personality trait that has plasticity.
In order to explain plasticity, we have to understand that this element of the personality is not fixed, but is pliable and capable of changing. This change may not come about in a planned way, such as through coaching or targeted experiential activities and life experience.
In recent years, it was a commonly held belief that personality attributes were fixed traits. Recent years have shifted this perception to understand our personality traits are plastic, each trait to a different extent. This means it is good news when trying to implement change in a group of people or an organization.
The second element of Mental Strength defines in great part how an individual will respond and perform when under stress, pressure and adversity. What this means is that the term Mental Strength can explain how some individuals respond to stressors, pressure and confrontations. This will explain this for a large part of Mental Strength, but not all. It isn’t the full breadth of the explanation. There are likely other factors in place that may influence the individual differently.
Although it is a key element of our personality, we are made up of multiple traits. These other traits may be an essential component in explaining our behaviors in response to outside pressure. The combination of our personality traits may play a significant role
One example of this may be a mentally strong person prone to being an introvert may respond differently than a mentally tough extrovert, although both have Mental Strength. A mentally sensitive extrovert will possibly use their extroversion to impact their below average confidence with interpersonal skills.
We can understand the link between Mental Strength and performance. This lead us to the understand of two people that may come from similar background and life experience have different outcomes when facing similar situations.
The third thing to consider is that we utilize the term to “deal with” as opposed to “coping”. People who are mentally strong deal with their circumstances and keep a positive attitude. Although the situation might be challenging, they generally see the world as fully of opportunity, and possess the confidence to take on problems and challenges. This is different than resilience, which tend to have a connotation as a passive quality.
Finally, the last part of the definition includes the criteria that Mental Strength is irrespective of the circumstances, and implies responsibility and accountability. This implies that when an individual is facing adversity and things might not have gone as planned, do they blame others, or accept responsibility and stay accountable for how the situation was dealt with?
Those with a strong element of Mental Strength will admit when things went wrong, and admit they could have done things differently. They will own their part of the responsibility. Those who are mentally sensitive will have a tendency to blame someone else. They may something, such as “It wasn’t my fault, it was because of (the circumstance)” instead of owning their part of the problem.
One other notion takes on the commonly held idea that someone is different at work than home. There is some truth in this, because the dynamics of a different environment will enable people to behave in different ways based on the rules and expectations that are placed on us. This provides some explanation into differences of behaviors.
One of the elements of Mental Strength is emotional control. If someone has a low level of emotional control, it can translate into someone expressing angry when in a safe environment (such as at home).
The same individual would probably not conduct themselves the same way in a working environment, because the rules and expectations – and consequences, such a job loss, might be a deterrent. At home there is a level of safety.
This means that an individual can moderate behavior, but inside you are still the same person.
This means that we have established a definition, which sounds much like resilience. We will look at this in more detail in later posts. There are many terms out there which seem to describe the concepts and ideas that are related to mental toughness.
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