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Are You Constantly Struggling? Try Grit

Keeping goals in mind gives our brain a place to focus other than our troubles.

Key points

  • Grit is the ability to endure hardship, but having a goal is vital.
  • While some people naturally possess more grit, you can cultivate it through effort.
  • People with grit look forward, letting go of grudges, mistakes, and disappointments.
Source: Fabrizio Conti / Unsplash
Source: Fabrizio Conti / Unsplash

According to the news, social media, and the American Psychological Association (APA), more people are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions than ever before. In response, numerous articles and research studies have been published suggesting the best ways to improve mental health.

While there isn’t just one thing we need to do to protect our mental health or improve it, 18 years of clinical experience has taught me that some strategies work better than others, and some are more important. I believe in the power of resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from hardship with strength and tenacity. One essential and specific factor that is part of resilience is called grit.

Defined as the ability to endure hardship, possessing more grit increases our tolerance for difficult circumstances without stealing our hope that things will get better. Some people naturally possess more grit and seem to be able to endure a lot of hardship without it breaking their spirit. But grit is something that you can work to increase, and doing so helps build resistance to depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth discusses how to be gritty. She argues that the ability to endure hardship is part of what constitutes grit, but you also have to have a goal: Something you’re passionate about. While Duckworth focuses on how grit can help you achieve success, as a therapist, I’m interested in how grit can be used to improve mental health.

If you’re currently experiencing hardship, practicing the following strategies can help you increase your grit to get you through this difficult time while retaining hope and ultimately improving your overall mental health.

Grit Takes Effort

Sometimes, you have to be persistent and keep going even if you don’t feel like it. Life isn’t fair and often involves more tough times than easy times. In the end, this makes the rewards and the triumphs even sweeter. But we have to get through the process first. This means we have to put on a symbolic suit of armor and remind ourselves on the hardest days that we can do hard things.

Let Go of Grudges, Mistakes, and Disappointments

People with grit must be forward thinkers. Take notes and learn from your mistakes, but let go of the negative thoughts and feelings. Dwelling on past mistakes or broken relationships does not serve a productive purpose in improving your life or your mental health.

Always Have a Goal

You don’t have to come up with a life-defining goal right now. Perhaps you want to make it through the days without feeling terrible, or you’d like to have several consecutive days without a panic attack. Those examples are a fair place to start.

You can also identify something small you’d like to accomplish. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon or starting your own company. Maybe it’s going to work more days than not or finishing a project that you started. Keeping goals in mind gives our brain a place to focus other than our troubles.

Find a Passion for Purpose

While nothing may immediately come to mind, think about what you want to get out of life. Find a purpose, whether it’s related to your career, an opportunity to serve others as a volunteer, or a hobby. Find something that you love and pour your energy into it. Having a passion and a purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning and feel enthusiastic about the day ahead. It also helps you focus on the harder days.

Enduring hardship is important to grit, but no one can continuously withstand difficult circumstances without something to feel hopeful about. These strategies can help you find hope through purpose and positivity, and you’ll feel strong enough to be ready for life’s next challenge.

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