5 Ways to Stay Mentally Strong, No Matter What


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“Have a little faith in your ability to handle whatever’s coming down the road. Believe that you have the strength and resourcefulness required to tackle whatever challenges come your way.” ~Lori Deschene

My life is unpredictable.

These days, it feels like I wake up not knowing what obstacles I’m going to be facing or how to manage it all. Is the world getting more challenging, or is it just me?

There doesn’t seem to be a magic carpet ride to rescue me, or any of us for that matter, ready to whisk us off into the sunset for a rendition of Aladdin’s “Whole New World,” with “shining, shimmering splendor.”

Do you, like me, wonder, “How is everyone else navigating life these days?”

Attempting to put my mind into a semblance of order the other day, I pulled out my self-development toolbox. I began digging around to see what I had on hand from all the self-development books and blog posts I’ve read, therapists I’ve seen, and workshops I’ve taken.

I came up with the usual suspects: Embrace change! Practice mindfulness! Find your purpose! Reclaim your power! While these fab four sound like a great tried-and-true collection, it felt like I was trying to use the rules of Candyland to navigate the fire-breathing dragons in Game of Thrones.


Like so many others I interact with, such as family, clients, and friends, I sense uncertainty building up on a consistent basis. The hardest part is not having the luxury to curl up and shut the shades and hide under the blankets because there are bills to pay, jobs and careers to sit up straight for, and families to attend to.

So where do I draw confidence in my ability to handle life?

I think back to my childhood as a Gen X kid. Growing up in a small town on a dead-end street with ten siblings, I had to figure out how to fend for myself from a very young age. Food went quickly, and I had to forage and make sure I got my share. If there was a school project, I had to find odds and ends in the house to paste together and create an appropriate report to present to the class on my own.

My parents didn’t get down with glue and popsicle sticks. Ever.

Using the words “I’m bored” got you a broom and baby handed to you, so I kept myself busy and out of sight of the adults. Anytime I needed a ride anywhere, it was up to me to figure out how to get there and home, and I got stranded many times.

The superpower I developed as a kid so I could survive was resourcefulness.

This was, by definition, the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties and make use of that which others would normally overlook or discard. If I didn’t have what I wanted or needed, I would have to create possibilities using limited or no resources.

I developed curiosity, an ability to take care of myself, and the determination to find solutions in the face of any adversity and solve problems for myself and my younger siblings. I put together costumes, learned to sew my own clothes, cooked meals, and became an expert storyteller and little-white-lie fabricator.

Hypervigilance developed so I could figure out how to read the emotional state of the adults, who were consumed with their responsibilities and their own unfulfilled dreams. Keeping out of harm’s way, such as avoiding my father’s wrath or the teacher’s punishment, became my expertise. Friends were everything, and they, along with the outdoors, helped me have a pretty incredible childhood with lots of fun memories.

What I learned from my childhood is this: It’s not always a lack of resources that is the problem; it’s a lack of resourcefulness that causes failure.

There are resources that we think we need, such as money, the right technology, the right contacts, enough time, the best lawyer, etc., and while there’s truth to that, we struggle because we lack the ultimate resource—which is emotional resourcefulness, something we could all access. When you dig deep and utilize your emotional resources,you can get almost any other resource on earth.

It’s Time to Develop Emotional and Practical Resourcefulness

Here are my five tips to stay mentally strong and navigate anything that comes your way in life.

1. Use what you have.

When I was a kid, no one went to the store to buy me supplies, trendy trinkets, or even necessities like pajamas, pencils, and enough socks. We used and reused what we had around.

Even when I can afford things I need, I like to take a look at my Amazon cart and double check to see if I have anything at home that I could makeshift or ask a neighborhood WhatsApp group for. You’d be surprised at what people offer up for free, both goods and services. You just have to ask.

Bartering works as well. I have gotten vacations paid for, kids’ school tuition in exchange for marketing services, and plane tickets for use of my home for a night or two.

2. Develop your hustle.

If I wanted the latest thing the other kids had or wanted to go for pizza with my friends, I babysat, raked leaves, and hustled my grandmother for money. I found that if I played her a song on the piano and told her I was the best and prettiest in my class, she would give me $5. It made us both happy!

Obtain invitations by befriending people you admire and want to be like. Worm your way into communities of your choice by shopping in those neighborhood grocery and coffee shops and talk to people there. Sign up for training and meetings in the town-run parks and recreation centers in those neighborhoods as well. Don’t stop the hustle mindsetwherever you go.

 3. Practice self-talk.

All through my childhood, I used to constantly tell myself, from the top bunk bed in a crowded bedroom with my sisters, that one day I would be a writer like I read about in my favorite book, Anne of Green Gables. I knew I would one day sell my stories and have the money I wanted. I do that today!

When I would see things around me that I didn’t like, and there were many, I reminded myself that I would one day be like the well-dressed women in my mother’s magazines: colorful clothes, big white smiles. Seek outside inspiration for this and speak positive, goal-oriented dialogue to yourself.

When something is not as you would like, tell yourself, “I don’t like it, it’s an inconvenience, and it’s temporary.” Not BUT it’s temporary; say and, or furthermore. “And it’s temporary.” That’s how you talk to yourself, according to former prisoner of war Edith Eger, author of The Choice. “No matter what happens, it’s temporary and I can survive it.”

4. Trust your intuition.

Trust that you have the intuition to figure it out. We made it home from school, found our friends outside to hang out with, kept ourselves alive, and sensed when to avoid dangerous adults (most of the time).

Trust that your instincts will kick in at the precise moment needed, and it may be last-minute, but you’ll always figure it out.

5. Know that you have a unique purpose.

I knew my purpose was to be a writer, and I did a good job on my writing assignments in grade school. Never underestimate your power to make a difference with your talent or your purpose, and believe that you have something to offer the world—and offer it.

I used to volunteer for just an hour a week at a recovery center when I was at my lowest, just to feel purposeful, and I reaped magical rewards from that experience.

Bonus Tip: Build a Support System

No one can navigate life’s challenges alone, and building a strong support system is crucial for mental strength. As a Gen X kid, we had our friends on the street to hang out with all the time; we were always there for each other.

Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you. Share your thoughts and feelings with friends or family members (and/or professionals) that you trust, who can provide valuable perspectives along with emotional support. Having a support system not only lightens the load but can also reinforce your much-needed mental fortitude to develop a strong mind.

While life is unpredictable, by incorporating these five practices into your life, you can build a foundation of mental strength that will serve you well in any circumstance.

Remember, staying mentally strong is not about avoiding challenges but about facing them head-on with resourcefulness, courage, resilience, and a positive attitude. With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the unpredictable journey of life and emerge stronger on the other side.

“Know that you always have the capacity to make the best of anything. Even if you didn’t want it or ask for it, even if it seems scary or hard or unfair, you can make something good out of any loss or hardship. You can learn from it, grow from it, help others through it, and maybe even thrive because of it. The future is unknown, but you can know this for sure: Whatever’s coming, you got this.” ~Lori Deschene

About Esther Litchfield-Fink

Esther Litchfield-Fink is a verbal and written communications expert. You can follow her at estherfink.com. Sign up for a free intro call here, and get on the list for her digital course on How to Heal from Toxic Relationships. She has a master’s degree in organizational psychology and has been featured on tinyBuddha.com three times, as well as many other websites.

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