10 Strategies to Build Your Mental Strength

Got nerves? Well, you are not alone. Hive Gold athlete and Team USA wrestler Jenna Burkert shares how she builds her mental strength to tackle challenges from every day life to components on the mat.
Photo: Tony Rotundo
I get asked all the time, “how do you go through a match without fear?”  The truth is I’m scared all the time. But I've learned to embrace that fear. I love fear. Fear motivates me, it excites me, I’m grateful for fear. It doesn’t matter what you do in this world, there’s going to be something to make you nervous. It could be a big game, public speaking, or a job interview. You can let that fear control you, or you can take charge of your fears and face them head-on. After all, you can’t conquer your fears if you run away from them.  Here are 10 tips I've found help to build my mental strength and face my fears head on with confidence: 
1. Stay Present.
Fear lives in the future.  What can you control today? Can you be great today? Let’s focus on that.
2. Name it & Tame It.
Acknowledge them. Simply saying your fears out loud helps reduce your anxiety. 
3. Recognize Your Negative Thoughts and Replace Them.
We have to get out of the mind frame of putting ourselves down. “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m not the best.” “I’ll never be that fast.” With that attitude, you might be right. When your inner self says something negative, visualize a stop sign. Then, replace that negative thought with a positive one.
4. Embrace Your Fears.
Sometimes a positive attitude does the trick. Instead of, “ugh I have to go to this workout” change it to, “heck yeah, I GET to work on this today!” What your doing is a privilege. For me today, I’m working to become the 2020 57kg OLYMPIAN! What an opportunity! Someday my schedule could be jam-packed with paperwork, and you know what? Still a privilege. I get to help others, I get to lead soldiers to be their best self. You choose how you see you're glass, so why not choose to see it half full?
5. Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes.
Perfect records are rare to come by, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient, understanding, encouraging and be kind to yourself.
6. Have a Growth Mindset.
Recognize that this is an opportunity to become better.
7. Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable.
I could break this down in wrestling and tell you exactly where I need to improve. But in all honesty, sometimes the most uncomfortable situation is receiving the wrong coffee at the coffee shop and not wanting to say anything because I don’t like conflict. Well, what a great time for me to work on speaking up for myself! Time to get uncomfortable.
8. Embrace Your Vulnerabilities.
We all have flaws. We all have things to work on. That’s okay, just start somewhere. Take it one step at a time.
9. Be a Good Friend to YOURSELF!
Read that again. The things we say to ourselves, we would never dare say to our friends. Why is that? Well, we are probably much harder on ourselves than we would be to a friend. So why not talk to ourselves that way? Let's start lifting ourselves up, too. 
10. A Henry Ford quote...
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. It emphasizes how much your attitude can determine your success or your failure. No matter what you do in this world, there’s going to be things that challenge you. Some things might break you down, but don’t let it keep you down. Start somewhere. Start small. Just start, and soon your mental strength will be stronger than ever. Follow Jenna's journey