21 Mental Toughness Hacks for Special Forces Success, Guts, and Luck (2023)


Special Forces are world famous for their ability to overcome overwhelming odds; whether it be fighting and eliminating an enemy force greater than your own, engaging in noteworthy hostage rescue situations, conducting covert reconnaissance in a foreign country, or simply "baging" in your country's elite combat units.

Undoubtedly, it takes a very strong human type to face these life and death challenges, both physically and mentally, always on high alert to face any imaginable threat. Special Forces are feared not so much for their physical strength, Olympic-level fitness or their latest weaponry, but for their spirit. There are countless examples of operators being shot and wounded and continuing the fight, continually taking the fight to the enemy as their bodies screamed at them to stop and surrender. We can therefore look to their mental thought processes to discover what drives this particular race of people to blast their way through Hell and the High Waters to achieve their goals.


Mental toughness is forcing yourself to put up with what you really despise for longer than you think possible. Is very difficult? very scary? Too repulsive? Very annoying? Too depressing? Too temperamental?


Here are mental coping mechanisms to help you with any daily or life struggles that come your way. You'll learn how an SF operator is trained to deal with mental pressure, installing habits and changing perspectives: learn how he strives to go beyond his limits, so you too can apply this unique wisdom.


If you had £86,400 in your bank account, how upset would you be if someone took $10 from you? Yes, they stole it. Would you be willing to spend the remaining $86,390 to get it back? No of course not.

We all have 24 hours a day, 86,400 seconds. Don't let the 10 seconds someone stole from you with a negative comment, action or attitude ruin your day. You have 86,390 seconds to live. Don't waste a single second on those insignificant seconds it took someone to try and ruin your day. Don't give them that satisfaction. Do not worry about the little things.


The meaning of life is a question that has been pondered since the birth of civilization. What is that supposed to mean? You can look at the issue spiritually, biologically or emotionally. But one could argue that it boils down to just one thing: self-preservation.

99% of everything you do in life is related to self-preservation. It's how you are programmed to think and behave. The same goes for everyone else on earth. Almost every action you and others take has to do with preserving the individual and humanity. Even those we consider destructive to ourselves, on a conscious or subconscious level, would believe they were sane - including those who overeat, those with addictions, and even those who commit suicide. Why does a country go to war on a larger scale? self-preservation. Everyone wants to support themselves. It helps to put things in perspective. When someone is fighting with you, know this: no one is against you, they are just for themselves.


Introduced by Julian Rotter in 1966, a locus of control is a psychological construct that balances the extent to which an individual believes they have power over their life – the extent to which a person believes in “free will”. A person with a strong internal locus of control believes they can influence events and outcomes. Someone with a strong external locus of control blames external forces for life events.

Do you want to earn money? Those with a strong internal locus of control will be the ones to go out and do it - enterprising types. These types of people are confident they can succeed, want to learn, thrive when faced with challenges, and handle stress better.

Those with a strong external locus of control are people who believe they have little or no control over their lives and that the best way to gain wealth is to let external factors do it - in this case, buying lottery tickets. They leave life's events to chance, fate and the environment. People like this tend to be less successful in life and more likely to suffer from mental disorders. They easily blame others, avoid responsibility, are more prone to stress and depression, and tend to have a victim mentality.

Internal locus types would assess life situations and label them as follows:

  • I'm late because I didn't allow traffic
  • We lost the football game because we didn't play well enough
  • I didn't get the promotion because I didn't plan enough or I didn't work hard

External locus types would label the same situations by saying:

  • I'm late because the traffic is bad
  • We lost the football game because the referee was unfair
  • I didn't get the promotion because the boss didn't support me

What type are you? What do you want to be?


Humans are natural disasters and are often quick to turn their attention to all the difficult aspects of a task, but this mental toughness hack will have you completely changing the way you approach a challenge. It changes your mindset. Suddenly, the impossible becomes possible and forces you to believe that you can get whatever you want, whatever the cost.

You can apply this simple question, also explored in PARADOX CHIMP (get it in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter below), to any number of scenarios; from long-term training for a special forces selection to completing mid-term basic military training to short-term completion of a 1.5-mile running fitness test.

The underlying theme here is self-discipline - not only does this mental toughness hack increase your desire to achieve your goal or even make it easier, it also helps you understand your own motivations for doing so. Ask yourself, "Are you looking for excuses to fail?" If you answered "yes" to the question but still hesitate to reach your goal, look for excuses to fail. You are not self-disciplined. If that's the case, you might not be taking your goal as seriously as you thought, and you might be wondering why you want to achieve that goal in the first place.


You're probably already doing this - you've imagined yourself crossing the finish line, earning that first million dollars, or scaling that 8,000-meter peak. However, you might be imagining it all wrong.

What the British Army Teaches: Britain's elite forces teach new recruits how to gain mental strength by committing with a sense of accomplishment - imagining "passing out" after completing their selection and training, rather than just imagining how they see themselves at the end .

You've probably heard of lifestyle marketing, where a company engages its target audience not by telling you what its product's attributes are, but how it makes you feel. "Having the latest Apple iPhone with 'Animoji' will make me happy" - Apple is very good at this. A brand wants to appeal to a specific lifestyle by focusing on a set of interests, opinions and ideas that the target market can relate to. Furthermore, a brand focuses on the concerns, spirit and aspirations of the target market to offer a solution that helps them achieve their goals. You must do the same with yourself and your goals.

It's not about imagining the "characteristics" of your goal. Don't think about what you could spend your money on if you built a successful business. Instead, use this mental toughness trick to sell yourself the dream by holding on to feeling rich.


Visualization is one of the most powerful things to have in your mental toughness arsenal. When you find yourself in a new or stressful situation, your brain automatically tries to find a similar situation in its “memory bank” to guide you on how to act.

Visualization "hacks" this automation by forcing you to create strong, repetitive mental images. Shaolin monks in China use visualization to learn kung fu. They envision using their martial arts skills, going through the motions so that when the time comes to actually use them, they have quick access to the skills in their brain, allowing them to use their kung fu as second nature. Regarding CHIMP PARADOX (Get this in your inbox if you subscribe to our newsletter below), the monks are adding automation to the part of the computer's brain, ready for immediate access. This is where muscle memory is stored.


Fear is a survival mechanism. When you sense danger, a change in behavior develops. Fight, flee or freeze. However, worrying about fear means that we suffer more in imagination than in reality. Research included in Taylor Clark's book Nerve found that people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Yes, at a funeral, statistically more people would rather be the one who lost their life than the one who delivers the eulogy!

Today's soldiers are gaining insights to understand their fear and realize that it actually has many benefits. Fear keeps you focused, allows you to see more clearly. It gets you going. It makes you march faster and push harder. A German proverb says, "Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is." But the battlefield is a breeding ground for fear. There's a lot to be afraid of, and here are some ways to counteract it:

The first way to counteract anxiety is to prepare for it. Humans naturally fear the unknown. This is military training. Navy Seals spend approximately 75% of their time training and 25% of their time on deployments. Likewise, SAS squadrons alternate between active duty, standby, and rest and recovery, with the least amount of time actually being deployed. The skill and training is constantly practiced to the point where it becomes second nature (it sets an automatic response in the brain's computer) to the point where it becomes monotonous so that when faced with a threat, an operator knows exactly how to neutralize the threat. situation.


Meditation is the process of quieting the (mental) spirit. It's useful when you have a lot of thoughts in your mind. You can use meditation to gain clarity, calm, and focus. It is credited with practicing self-knowledge, supporting the immune system and even slowing down aging and ultimately leading to overall happiness.

The goal of meditation is to feel relaxed but focused. How to meditate:

  1. Find a quiet place where you can sit quietly, alone and free from distractions.
  2. Breathe deeply and calmly, regulating each inhalation and exhalation.
  3. Concentrate on relaxing each muscle in your body, one at a time, as if they were made of butter that softens in the sun.
  4. Focus on a calming word or phrase like "happy" or "success" to let go of other words.
  5. Or focus on an image or visualization of how to achieve your goal.
  6. Focus on your image or word for 5-10 minutes.
  7. If you feel other images moving around in your head, observe them without emotion and let them fade away to return to your focus image or word. Thanks without reaction.
  8. If you experience an itch or sensation, call it “itching” or “frustration” as an example. Do this without emotions, release them and return to your focus image or word.

Meditation takes some practice, but over time it will get easier and you will be less distracted while meditating.


For example, on an iPhone, you can change the name of the default alarm so that it displays any message when you wake up (by default, it's just called "Alarm"). This is a technique used by martial arts professionals all over the world. They change the name of the alarm clock so that at 7am, 6am, 5am... whenever they get up early to exercise, the alarm says, "Get up and exercise". Your opponent has already started!”

In the case of special forces, it might be: “Stand up and train. Your enemy has already begun!”

You can imagine how beneficial this trick would be for developing mental toughness when you see that first hour of the morning as an added incentive to wake up, get out of bed and work out. day in and day out He puts your purpose first from the second you wake up and talk to your inner chimp.


Thinspiration means "thin inspiration". It's super important to always remember your goals as this speaks to your inner chimp. If you're working to lose weight, you can refer to this reminder as "inspiration." If you have a weight loss goal and know what you want your body to look like, it's a good idea to constantly remind yourself of that body to keep your goal in mind. You can use this mental toughness hack by finding an appropriate image of a fitness model or celebrity related to your goal and placing it in prominent places to keep you motivated to stick with your diet and fitness regimen.

However, some people have found a negative reaction to constantly seeing these images, as it makes them more body conscious. A good substitute idea is to find key phrases and quotes that you can address and put them in their place. For example, post the following where you can see it: "Engagement is what you want now versus what you want most." This might work better than a photo of a fitness model. Again, find a quote that resonates with you in this eBook, print it out, and display it. It's super fast and will do your psyche a lot of good.

If weight loss isn't your goal, that's okay. Surround yourself with images of the travel destination you're saving up for, the dream home you want to live in one day, or the gold medal you're working towards.


A big part of mental toughness is the ability to instantly change the way you think. Here's a statement, a mantra, to repeat to yourself the next time you're thinking about a challenge or need an extra boost of mental toughness to make sure you're giving it 100%: You don't have 4.5 billion years of evolution . through just to be average.

Isn't life's pursuit to be the best version of yourself? Far above your average potential?

This question is profound. Reflecting on your place in our rock in the universe is intriguing and a subject that history's brightest minds have spent countless lifetimes trying to understand. But when you remember how far we've all come, you can find the mental confidence you need to take on new challenges.

Think about how much time has passed since Earth and humanity began. Think of all the struggles humanity has overcome, like discovering fire, carving the wheel, inventing the internal combustion engine, programming the internet, and walking on the moon. Now think about the struggles of the future: global food shortages, possible world wars, and the colonization of Mars. Like the past, the future will not be shaped by average thinkers, but by people who push themselves to their limits, and therefore to the limits of humanity. If the theory of "survival of the fittest" is applied from the beginning of life, then we really are the fittest people in history. We are the apex predator, the lords of our world. You weren't born average either.


A schedule dream becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes a reality.

With your own goals, start by figuring out what you really want to achieve. "Rich" is not a goal. "$10 million in 5 years"... that's a goal. You can break down your goals by thinking SMART. Remember: "A big goal should scare you a little and excite you a little", Joe Vitale. Hard work doesn't feel like hard work when you're doing what you love.

  • S = Specific: What must be accomplished? The more detailed and defined the objective, the better. To help, answer what, where, why and how for your goal.
  • M = Measurable: How is this measured? How do you know you're making progress? Don't guess, measure.
  • A = Achievable: Is the goal achievable? Can this be done for you? Don't set your goal too high that it's unattainable, but you also want to put in the effort. If you want something you've never had, you've got to do something you've never done.
  • R = Realistic: Do you have the skills and resources to make this happen?
  • T = Time: What is a realistic timeframe for achieving my goals? How much time in a day will you dedicate? “Never give up on a dream just because it took too long to achieve. Time flies anyway”, Earl Nightingale.


A good starting point for any personal goal is to create a SWOT self-analysis. This means strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Breaking down a challenge into these four categories can help you identify where you personally need help, where you feel most confident, and what obstacles are likely to come your way.

Strengths and weaknesses focus on internal factors, while opportunities and threats focus on external factors. Furthermore, strengths and opportunities are useful and weaknesses and threats are harmful. You only need to write down between 3 and 6 entities per category, but if you do this early in your goal planning, you will certainly have a better understanding of the challenges ahead.

Master your strengths with practice and patience. Improve your weaknesses by paying more attention to them. Position yourself for opportunities and identify and combat threats head-on before they start to derail your progress.


"Do you want to change the world? Start by making your bed"...

This is the main action point of Admiral William H. McRaven's New York Times bestseller, MAKE YOUR BED. McRaven had a distinguished career in the US Navy, spending over 37 years as a Navy SEAL and ultimately progressing to his final position as commander of all US Special Operations Forces.

But what does he mean by making your bed? Why should such a mundane task help you change the world? In McRaven's own words: "If you make your bed every morning, you will have completed the first task of the day. It will give you a little pride and encourage you to do one more task and another and another. At the end of the day, that one completed task will have turned into many completed tasks. Making the bed also reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can't get the little things right, you can never get the big things right. And if you happen to have a miserable day, you'll come home to a made bed - which you made - and a made bed gives you the incentive that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.”

This hack is essentially a success habit. It sets off a chain reaction of productivity to get more out of your day. More success.


The US Marine Corps believes that an approach designed with a 100% success rate is unrealistic and likely to fail. As the saying goes, "No plan survives contact with the enemy."

This is where the "70% solution" comes into play. A 70% success plan is still highly likely to succeed, but it allows for real-time tweaks and improvisations, making the plan super flexible and more likely to succeed versus a rigid plan with no wiggle room.

In the ever-changing combat environment, this highly fluid mindset can feel dangerous, but it allows the enemy to react against your plan - allowing the leader to be both proactive and reactive. A leader would direct his fortune by communicating the end goal to his team and letting those under him figure out their role right away. Creating a cleanup plan would be easier in a civilian environment, which is why this hack is taught to combat leaders - in an environment where decisions need to be made very quickly, without the luxury of group discussion.

The next time you find yourself in a dynamic environment where decisions need to be made quickly, apply the "70% Solution" to succeed and be agile enough to respond to rapidly changing circumstances.


"How important is this situation for the rest of my life?"

As explored earlier in this book and seen in the Chimp Paradox, the Helicopter mental strength hack will change the way you think. When you find yourself in the presence of instant stress; Feelings of anger, fear, restlessness, apprehension... You can use this trick:

  1. Imagine getting into an imaginary helicopter and taking off vertically.
  2. Imagine yourself going up and up so you can look at yourself and the situation you are in. This is for perspective.
  3. Imagine that if you look to the left of the helicopter, you will see past events, and if you look to the right, you will see future events, and finally, you will see your life as a linear timeline.
  4. Now look at your current situation and ask, "How important is this situation to the rest of my life?"

You will probably answer: "No way!".

Remember that everything in life will pass. A stressful time in your life, like most things, won't last forever. Very little in life matters in the long run. Take off in your imaginary helicopter, look at the timeline of your life and ask yourself if your stressful moment is worth worrying about - remember this the next time you encounter instant stress. Will this bother me in a few years? And next month? Next week? Or until tomorrow? No no go.


The mentally strong can take rejection better than most. They have a mindset that allows them to put things in perspective and not let rejection overwhelm or anger them.

However, the goal is not to get a no or a yes, but to defend an uncomfortable social situation. Preparing for rejection in this way will toughen your skin and help you through life by improving your ability to not be afraid of failure. For example, it is natural for many people to have difficulty asking another person out for fear of rejection. This mental toughness hack will help you with that.

Being able to handle rejection means you can't let the behavior of others affect your self-esteem. Also, rejection is one of the strongest motivators. Rejection therapy is a form of mental "flooding," a psychotherapeutic technique that responds by increasing adrenaline in the face of fear, which over time reduces fear of this and similar stimuli. You may have heard of facing your fears before. Well it works...

It seems good? Here are some ideas that can help you with rejection therapy. Try this technique over the next few weeks, fortnights or 30 days and see the effect it will have on you, your confidence and your ability to pursue your goals. Put things in perspective using other techniques mentioned in this book, see that rejection doesn't really matter, and make the most of it. You might also find that you're having a good time. Just make sure your ideas are legal and credible. Here are some inspirations:

  • See if you can borrow £/$100 from a complete stranger
  • Ask for a selfie with a stranger
  • Ask for a guided tour of a building (warehouse or factory) that is not open to the public
  • Ask to swim in a stranger's pool
  • Offer £/$5 to a total stranger. You'll be surprised how many will say no!
  • Borrow someone's dog
  • Ask strangers for compliments


Only 1% of all US military personnel belong to Navy Seals. It is estimated that there are around 2,450 stamps in existence at any given time and the British SAS has around a fifth of that number.

If you take into account the population of the respective countries, there are about 133,000 people for 1 Navy SEAL in the US and about the same number for 1 SAS soldier in the UK. This gives a certain degree of exclusivity and pride to those who wear a badge - they are literally one in 133,000.

This knowledge can be a useful hack for anyone undergoing selection and training. Again, this has to do with visualization. Those who train hard can do so knowing they will represent their country's 133,000 men, women and children on the battlefield - roughly the population of Brighton, Great Britain, or Charleston, South Carolina.

Those running through the Brecon Bacon hills with SAS Selection or along the beach in California during BUDS can imagine doing so while visually imagining the hundreds of thousands of fans screaming for their success.

Imagine the faces of those you want to fight for, those you want to represent. The men, the women, the children. Imagine seeing them as far as the eye can see, filling every space a person can stand. Imagine what the banners and signs of encouragement say, held high above their heads, gently swaying in the wind. These are the people you do it for. These people must be defended. Imagine their love and admiration for you. A true warrior does not fight because he hates what lies ahead, but out of love for what lies behind. These people want you to succeed. They root for you. Imagine their support to push you.


The Royal Marines pride themselves on their elite and military history dating back to 1664. Commandos have NATO's longest basic training course, 32 weeks, to transfer a civilian mind to a Marine. In search of independence, strength and courage, they aim to recruit new members by focusing on the mental toughness aspect of the job - "99.99% don't need to apply".

Like real marines, most of the world's military units are taught not only to face the rigors of extreme weather conditions, but also to accept them. The script for one of the Royal Marine advertisements released in 2009 reads: “Rain is our ally. The rain erases our tracks and quenches our thirst. Rain keeps our enemies indoors while we work.

The actionable point here for future soldiers is that even though you may think you are slipping or stumbling, run slower, you may have a voice in the back of your mind that finds an excuse not to make your training run in rain, sleet, snow, you yourself stuck with heavy equipment and saturated with water or more prone to blisters - the fear is the same for the enemy.

When operating in real operations in inclement weather, you are less likely to be spotted by a less disciplined enemy or by civilians seeking cover. As long as you accept this, you are no longer afraid to train in bad weather conditions, you are welcome. Experience will condition the mind to accept the environment and give you a competitive edge.

MIND STRENGTH TRICK #20: "IF ANYTHING can go wrong, it will"

These are the famous words of a US Air Force engineer, Captain Edward A. Murphy. He was part of a team at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949, working on a project to see how much stress from sudden deceleration a pilot could take. The day after realizing that a technician had got part of the test wrong, he said, "If there's a way to go wrong, he'll find it." Laws", adding "If anything can go wrong, it will" to the list.

Hundreds of new laws have been added over the years, and below are some of the most relevant to combat. They also have life applications that can be used to think differently about a situation, say versus a competitor in a corporate environment, and can be considered good advice much like Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

Think about these things:

  • Friendly fire - no.
  • If it's worth fighting, it's worth fighting dirty.
  • You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
  • A chest wound that sucks is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
  • If it's stupid but it works, it's not stupid.
  • Try to appear unimportant; The enemy might be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.


All of the mental strength hacks mentioned above are sourced from the Special Forces Mental Strength Hacks eBook, where you'll gain actionable coping mechanisms, quick-action strategies, and unique wisdom from the world's elite. The 39 Mental Toughness Hacks ebook was written for anyone who finds these special forces inspired mental toughness hacks useful at any stage of life; whether you are a business professional, an athlete, a student, or a future or current soldier.

Plus, you can't go wrong with a 100% satisfaction guarantee: we want you to be absolutely delighted with our e-books, so we're pleased to offer you this strong guarantee: to show our confidence in our products and your value, we offer a 7-day money-back guarantee. If you don't like what you read, you get your money back.

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