Despite what people may think, being mentally tough isn’t about hiding your emotions. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Often, those with the greatest mental toughness are also the most open people you will ever meet. They have the courage remain honest about their thoughts and feelings in a variety of situations.
Why isn’t everyone open about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking? Simple - being open means being vulnerable. It’s natural to protect ourselves from being vulnerable to judgement and criticism. No one wants to feel uncomfortable, but accepting discomfort is actually very good for your peace of mind.
Practice Being Vulnerable
Believe it or not, one of the best places to practice being vulnerable is in the workplace. If you’re having communication issues at work, try out this thought experiment:
You’re talking through a problem with a coworker, and you can tell they’re holding something back. Perhaps they’re shrugging or saying “maybe” a lot. Now imagine they said exactly what they’re thinking. In that moment, they have made themselves vulnerable to rejection. Would you shut them down immediately? Probably not. The immediate human reaction to vulnerability isn’t rejection, it’s compassion.
Why is Mental Toughness So Important?
Many companies are intentionally designing their workspaces to support vulnerability. When people are free to express their thoughts and feelings without judgement, it opens a whole new world of possibilities. Working in this type of environment makes communication so much easier. This is critical for idea development and creativity. By allowing ourselves to work through more complex opinions, feelings, and ideas, we strengthen our ability to problem solve.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a great place to start. When you have freedom to be vulnerable, you allow ideas to flourish, foster better, more open communication, and build long-lasting mental toughness.