The Total Self – Mental Toughness


In keeping with The Total Self, this article is a continuation of an earlier article I have written about this topic. I have spoken about mental toughness here on, my own logs and other social media platforms. I have given speeches about this also. The number one thing I believe that is holding people back in life other than broken focus and a solid plan (plus the willingness to execute) is a lack of mental toughness. It is not necessarily a bad thing that most people are not “hard”. You need people who are a tad softer, normal people in this world. This world would be in bad shape if it were just “Type As” all over the place. But you can learn from the Type A. Learn how to not let things stop you, how not to be a victim, and how not to allow things that have tormented you for years have any more control over you.

Mental Toughness has many definitions and is not limited to athletic performance and pain tolerance.  I have known many men and women throughout my life who I would define as “mentally tough”. From an 85-year-old gardener to a high school football friend, who it seemed neither ever had a bad day.  Much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self-determination. If you do a quick search online on the subject, you will see a variety of mental toughness techniques, articles, stories of remarkable physical performances to brave acts of heroism overcoming insurmountable odds and fear.

On a personal note, mental toughness is a way of life. It is quite simple to me. To not allow any voices, anyone or anything to stand in the way of my goals. To be able to withstand setbacks, controversy and many other troubles that life throws our way.

For the purposes of this site and its readers, I will also say that through somewhat challenging workouts and introspection and study of this topic, you will cultivate a mentally tough mindset. Again, my philosophy works for ME. As I have often said in my articles, take what’s said and make it work for you. For example, minutes of nonstop punching in a boxer’s case.  In my case, heavy lifting and running for miles will create increased energy levels, increased ability to buffer lactate, and an increased pain tolerance through training in the pain zone. You really must get the body to know what pain is so you can endure it longer. PAIN is not injury, but if you push too hard through pain you will be setting up for injury, so knowing your training limits is necessary as well. Studying mental toughness (or at least how others go over) will shed some light on what you may be lacking. On the days when you feel like crap and you have to WILL yourself to go to work or to hit the gym.  THAT too is mental toughness. Persistence and determination are all factors as well.  Other terms used to describe mental toughness is inspiration, self-motivation and confidence.

There are many examples of those who bring themselves out of horrible childhoods of poverty, neglect, and illness to become heroes, mentors, millionaires, and presidents.  That takes mental toughness in MY book.

Mental Toughness!  How do you get it?  Are you born with it? Can you acquire it?  Arguments to this question have occurred long before our modern world came about.  I believe through tough physical training, proper mindset, and a high level of maturity that mental toughness is born.  This toughness is what propels you through the storms of life and all that brings How do you get that?

Take for example, the Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong who endured one of the toughest diseases by beating testicular cancer.  After his battle with cancer, he came back mentally tougher and was once considered the greatest cyclist ever.  Maybe he had it all along, who knows?  Mental toughness is not measurable and is completely internal.  But I believe arduous work will get you there.  When Lance Armstrong was asked by reporters “What are you on?” referring to performance enhancing drugs.  Lance stated, “I am on my BIKE – busting my hump (paraphrased)for 6-8 hours a day!!”

So the question is do you get mental toughness by attending special workshops, or by being in the military/police or by playing sports? Is it by going through tricky situations in life and learning from them? I would say the answer is a combination of all that. You can become mentally tough by training and overcoming the trials and tribulations life brings, but ultimately it will be by the determination you make to be unstoppable and make the world a product of you.

I have seen a lot of people not win at life due to cracking under pressure. These daily gut checks that tend to make cowards of us all is something to behold. The pressures we all face tend to beat us down, and send us to our breaking points- that will cause us to lose focus and that’s how we fail. Not because of lack of talent, but because of broken focus. The break in focus becomes a turning point in your struggle/campaign.

This is the biggest difference in those who win in life and who do not. Everyone will have their nemesis or weakness.  The key is to BECOME someone who rises to the occasion. Someone who will plow right through very arduous situations and come out with their heads held high. To deal with setbacks and not let them affect you.

In closing, I would lie to say that Mental Toughness is one of the basics. One of the master keys to winning in life. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!


About Author

Kente Bates

OSN Fitness Expert Kente Bates is a personal trainer, writer, and coach. He has been involved in sports and fitness for over 20 years. You can reach him on twitter: @halcyonfg16. His health/fitness blog, Halcyon Fitness Group : and his email (where you can ask questions concerning health, fitness or anything relating):

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