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According to Psychologists
Mentally Tough People Adapt to Change Easier — 4 Ways to Become One of Them
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Liv McConnell
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The world has changed so much already — and it isn’t done metamorphosing yet.

Even if you agree that a lot of this change was deeply needed and overdue, the amount of elasticity that navigating the world over the past few months has required can still take a toll. A high degree of adaptability is demanded of us. For people who’ve spent time cultivating their mental toughness, either by choice or out of necessity, adapting can come a little easier. 

What’s the difference between resilience and mental toughness?

Resilience and mental toughness are terms that are commonly used interchangeably, but there is a difference. The American Psychological Association defines mental resilience as: “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” Cultivating mental toughness is one method of becoming more resilient. As PositivePsychology.com puts it, “To be mentally tough, you must have some degree of resilience, but not all resilient individuals are necessarily mentally tough. If you think of it as a metaphor, resilience would be the mountain, while mental toughness might be one of the strategies for climbing that mountain.” 

If building mental toughness is something you’d benefit from, you may want to turn to the teachings of Peter Clough, a professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. He developed a method called the MTQ48 Psychometric Tool, which uses something called a “4C’s framework” to develop mental toughness. You can learn more about this framework below. 

Building mental toughness: The 4C’s Framework

1. Control

Importantly, a mentally tough person doesn’t believe that they can control all of the events they experience in life. But this element of the framework does mean having a sense of control over the way you respond to life’s events. It also refers to having some control over the way you process and display emotions, too. Meaning that in a situation of crisis, a mentally tough person is good to have around, as they’re able to control their emotional response to the crisis (or at least not allow it to debilitate them), and they also won’t falsely internalize the crisis as being “all their fault.” They’re skilled at maintaining an appropriate level of objectivity. 

2. Commitment 

Specifically, this refers to your ability to set goals and stay committed to achieving them. Mentally tough people are able to continue working toward a long-term goal without wavering when things temporarily (or more lastingly) get tough. They don’t stray their course, and they aren’t easily distracted by competing priorities. Mentally tough people know what they’re after. 

3. Challenge

The challenge component of this framework has a lot to do, unsurprisingly, with the way you perceive challenges. Do you see adversity as an opportunity, or otherwise something that you know you’ll be able to overcome, or are you discouraged easily? People who’ve mastered this part of the framework are excited by new places, people and ideas because to them, change is an opportunity and not something that simply threatens to make their life more difficult. 

4. Confidence

This refers to your level of self-belief and connects to each of the three other framework pieces. For instance, you may possess a high degree of confidence in your ability to embrace challenges, stay committed to a goal, and control your emotional response to a negative event. Mentally tough people demonstrate belief in their own abilities and inner strength, and they’re able to withstand adversity well because of it.

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