How to Get the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (2023)

Navy Seals must go through an intense and grueling training program to qualify, but no physical strength will come to you without the necessary mental toughness. So what can we learn from those who do, and how can we use what we learn to improve ourselves? Read on to find out.

What does Navy Seal training include?

On average, it takes over a year to complete compulsory training, assuming it can take that long. Let's break it down to give you a better idea of ​​what it's all about:

High school – 8 weeks

Before attempting to become a SEAL, you must undergo an 8-week physical exam to assess and improve your ability to begin officer training. What is expected in this preparation? Well, examples are:

  • Run 1.5 miles in under 9 minutes, 4 miles in 31 minutes
  • Swim 1,000 meters with fins in 20 minutes
  • Do 80 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • Perform 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes

Basic Underwater Demolition Training - 24 weeks

Not only is this 24 week course one of the most masculine training courses we've ever heard of, it's also designed to test physical, mental and leadership abilities.

After a 3-week orientation, the training is divided into 7-week phases with the focus on:

  1. Physical condition
  2. combat diving
  3. ground war

The physical training becomes more difficult and the fourth week is known as "hell week". When you consider what it's about, the name seems quite justified:

  • More than 5 days of continuous training
  • I'm max 4 hours a week.
  • More than 20 hours of physical training every day
  • Run over 200 miles

You might want to put this into perspective the next time you leave the gym due to fatigue or laziness.

Of course, it takes an impressive amount of physical conditioning to complete a workout designed to push your body to its limits, but we reiterate that mental toughness is just as important (more on that later).

Skydiving school – 3 weeks

How to Get the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (1)

Can you really call yourself a man until you learn to jump at least 9,500ft while wearing riot gear in 3 weeks? Don't worry, you can check that off your wish list in this part of the course.

SEAL Qualification Training - 26 weeks

During this time, the course transitions into more advanced tactical and strategic training. Skills are enhanced by:

  • unarmed combat
  • melee
  • Advanced weapon training
  • open
  • Cold weather training (including a short trip to Alaska)
  • Navigation
  • medical skills
  • SERE Training (Survival, Dodge, Resistance, Escape)

And there it is; After passing this year you will receive one of the ranks of Navy SEAL. Do you feel mentally prepared for something like this? I'd give myself a quiet year to try, but unfortunately I'm not a US or Navy citizen so I'll have to rule that out for now.

(Video) Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset | Big Think

What is required to pass SEAL training?

Well, when you consider that the estimated dropout rate for the enlisted SEAL qualification is 73-75%, you can appreciate even more how difficult that is to achieve.

If the physical demands don't reach you, the mental or medical ones will still be there to test your full capabilities.

In his best-selling New York Times memoirThe Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America's Deadliest Snipers', Brandon Webb wrote that you really don't have to be a "super athlete" to pass SEAL training. Webb stated, "What SEAL training really tests is your mental toughness. It's designed to keep pushing you mentally to the limit."

So this is the ultimate test. You either come out strong enough to face any adversity without fear, or you break. With that in mind, let's look at techniques you can use to develop your mental toughness as a Navy SEAL.

How to develop mental toughness as a Navy SEAL

Before we delve deeper, it should be clear that this post is not specifically intended for individuals who wish to become Navy SEALS or pursue any other form of elite military qualifications. The goal is to learn from the techniques used by NavySEALs as they are an incredible measure of mental ability and overall strength.

Mental strength is a great skill for all walks of life. No one goes through life unfazed by the challenges that push them to their limits. Whether it's personal, professional, physical, or caused by tragedy, we are all tested regularly and need to be prepared to endure as best we can.

We took the time to conduct a thorough investigation; View a wealth of relevant information, resources, and memoirs to provide recommendations on how to increase your mental toughness. For reference, our research includes:

Using our collected and analyzed research, here is a condensed list of techniques to help you build your mental toughness, inspired by Navy SEALs.

1. Visualize success

Visualization techniques have gained popularity in modern times. One of the most prominent references to this type of technique was published inThe secretBy Rhonda Byrne. The secret in this context is essentially the "Law of Attraction". In other words, whatever is consuming your mind, that's where you end up.

The display concept is simple; Imagine that your goals and ambitions are already complete and you, in turn, can accelerate your way there. It's important to understand that this is a technique designed to help increase your likelihood and speed of success. It won't get results if you don't take action or get complacent.

By repeatedly imagining where you want to go, you can program your mind to start preparing and come up with ideas to help you get there. If you believe in the Law of Attraction, you may know when the people, resources, and happiness you need will find their way to you.

Another useful technique within visualization is the mental rehearsal. Popular with athletes and actors alike, this involves graphically walking your brain through the steps you need to take in order to prepare to actually do them when it matters most. You can imagine how useful that would be for a Navy SEAL. The stakes are just as great for them as they are in a real combat situation.

(Video) Navy SEAL Explains How to Build Mental Toughness - David Goggins

When visualizing, it is important to get an idea of ​​the desired result. Focus on it obsessively. Whatthis articleshows, images are better remembered by the brain. Create these visuals for all of your unique goals every day. Repetition is important. Is repetition important (see what I did there)?

You can take it a step further with affirmations. These are short, positive phrases that you say to yourself to change your behavior and habits to match your required goals. Affirmations can motivate you, fill you with optimism and positivity. Do not underestimate the effectiveness: try to commit to some affirmations for a reasonable period of time (at least 30 days) and with an open mind.

2. Fake your success

How to Get the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (2)

This goes beyond visualization into action. This is where you start practicing doing what you need to master, but with the dedication and focus as if it were the real thing.

For a Navy SEAL, this may include simulated combat training, allowing them to take part in real-world situations they may encounter in the future. While the simulation doesn't risk any fatalities, they are trained to approach as if you were going to, otherwise it would undermine their effectiveness.

In such situations, you only get one chance. For the average person, you may not be risking life or death, but when the relevant circumstances arise, you may only have one chance to seize the opportunity that presents itself.

Imagine an amateur actor auditioning for a major film, an Olympic athlete about to reach the 100-meter final, or a professional soccer player receiving a penalty in a cup final. Whatever the opportunity, fake it relentlessly so that when the time comes, you'll feel more confident and ready to take on it successfully.

3. Segment your challenges into manageable goals

The challenges ahead can be overwhelming, sometimes to the point where they seem insurmountable. Success doesn't come easy, so expect to find yourself in such situations on a regular basis.

You may not be able to avoid or work around some of these challenges, so learning how to approach them in ways that have proven beneficial is good practice. Break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.

Climbing a mountain in one day may not be doable, but you can get there step by step. The key is constant progress. Smaller goals reduce the risk of feeling overwhelmed or frozen, and help give your motivation a welcome boost when you tackle them one at a time.

You should also look at your end goal from a long, medium, and short term perspective. It would be wise to start with the long term and then move on to the medium and short term as a stepping stone to the bigger picture.

Depending on the circumstances you want to achieve, you may need to remain flexible and adaptable. Even the perfect plan can encounter unforeseen obstacles, and you must be able to adapt or risk failure.

(Video) Navy SEALs Mental Training

4. Learn to manage your emotions

How to Get the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (3)

This is easier said than done, especially in very stressful situations where your body is pumping adrenaline or cortisol into your system at a much higher rate.

So what can you do to train yourself to effectively manage your emotions? An interesting place to start is to familiarize yourself with some of the Stoic philosophies. We talk about this in more detail in our postAuthentic masculinity vs. toxic masculinity(see the section on what Stoicism is).

impostorMarcus AureliusAmong the notable adherents of this philosophy, the Stoics advocated the ability to see reason and logic before being overwhelmed by emotion. In the Authentic Masculinity blog post mentioned above, you will find exercises and quotes to help you with this.

Another useful approach that is often used for emotional control, especially in highly stressful situations, is effective breathing techniques. Before dismissing this as something reserved for yogis (we love and advocate yoga, by the way), consider that it is practiced by Navy SEALs.

Sometimes referred to as "4 times 4 times 4," a Navy SEAL is trained to inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and repeat for 4 minutes. So if you're one of those people who think breathing techniques are weird, do it with a Navy SEAL.

Our final suggestion for better emotional control is regular meditation, something we recommend in several of our posts. The benefits are significant and include increased self-esteem, lower blood pressure, better sleep, less stress and anxiety, and of course better emotional control.

For evidence-based examples of how meditation can help, see point 4 in our postThe best morning routine for success

5. Learn cognitive reframing

This is a technique that teaches you to look at a situation differently, change its meaning, or adjust your point of view about it. The idea is to turn negative opinions into more positive opinions. Let's look at some examples in different situations.

Example 1:The other day you got a hot girl's phone number and texted her the next day proposing a date. It's been 24 hours and you haven't heard anything. Your brain might start thinking that she's not interested, that she regrets giving you her number, or some similar negative thought.

It's time for a realignment. Look at the situation again, but this time from the perspective that she's just busy or maybe she really likes you, so you don't want to sound too enthusiastic or waste time writing a great answer. The negative has now become positive.

Example 2:You go to an interview for a job you really like; It's more money and more responsibility. Unfortunately it doesn't work; You can imagine some of the thoughts and emotions that might take over.

(Video) Strengthen Your Mind Like a Navy SEAL | David Goggins | Big Think

rephrase. What positive things can you take away from this situation? More responsibility would probably mean less time; You'll have more time to spend with your family, hone your skills, or take up a part-time job. Maybe this job wasn't meant to be, and a better opportunity is just around the corner. This isn't the end of the world.

Example 3:Time to use a Navy SEAL flash drive. In his book Breaking BUDS/S, D.H. Xavier shares the following example of how he rephrased a situation where he was being pressured into feeling unable to succeed:

“My belief might have been that they didn't really want me there; the consequence of this belief would have been my resignation.Rather, my belief was that I didn't care what they said. I believed I was capable of being successful

The reframing technique cannot be mastered overnight. If you believe in the value of your concept, it will take some patience and determination to make it happen. It takes us an average of 66 days to form a new habit, so give it some time.

First, try restating the following situation where it might be helpful. Identify the problem, challenge your negative assumptions, and restate the circumstances. Believe in your new perspective, support yourself. If you learn to master this, it will be an amazing addition to your skillset.

6. Understand your purpose in a manageable way

An innate requirement for most people is to have a sense of purpose and belonging. It is important to understand that your life has meaning even if world events make you feel different.

Mark Manson has an interesting perspective on this inyour site🇧🇷 He suggests that “we exist on this earth for an indefinite period of time. During this time we get things done. Some of these things are important. Some don't matter."

Manson concludes, "So when people say . . . what is the meaning of my life? What they're really asking is what can I do with my important time?

This approach takes some of the frivolity away from the purpose of understanding and gives you a realistic opportunity to fulfill your need for meaning in a productive way. Let's consider some questions that might help:

  • When did you experience the greatest sense bliss? What did you do?
  • If you only had one year to live what would you do?
  • If you could go back in time 15 years, what advice would you give for your future?

Meaningfulness can also be influenced by your connection to others and feeling part of something bigger than yourself. A great resource that takes a modern approach to this is the bookStammvon Seth Godin.

In his book, Godin suggests that "tribes" are everywhere, essentially defining them as a group of people who are connected, a leader and an idea. He then challenges the normal way of thinking "that without authority we cannot lead" and suggests that "the key is to realize that evil is not deadly" and that instead you should "do what you believe in believe. Paint a picture of the future. go there People will follow."

Are you ready to think like a Navy SEAL?

As I finish this post, I hope you can take away some things that will benefit you in your journey to where you envision yourself. If that's the case, then you've done your job.

(Video) Do this to become Navy SEAL mentally tough | Mark Divine

You don't have to go through formal Navy SEAL training to have the mental toughness to face life's challenges and come out stronger. It's something you can learn: the information you need is available. It's up to you to act.

As always, comments on our content are welcome and encouraged. I found this post useful and will reframe any negative feedback as an opportunity to improve my content in some way, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts, comments and questions in the comment box below.


What is the Navy SEAL 40% rule? ›

While living with Itzler and his family, the SEAL taught him the 40% rule. “He would say that when your mind is telling you you're done, you're really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn't suck we don't do it.

What are the 4 pillars of mental toughness Navy SEALs? ›

One of the classes that we had was called “The Four Pillars of Mental Toughness.” And those four pillars are goal setting, visualization, positive self talk and arousal control.

Are Navy SEALs mentally strong? ›

Mental toughness and resilience is a key quality in athletes that are revered and successful in their chosen sport. The US Navy SEALs resilience is renowned, they are some of the most mentally tough people in the world.

How do Navy SEALs stay so calm? ›

Take a Deep Breath

A good place to start: Practice what the SEALs call 4 x 4 x 4 breathing. Inhale deeply for four counts, then exhale for four counts and repeat the cycle for four minutes several times a day. You're guaranteed to feel calmer on any battleground.

What percent of people fail SEAL training? ›

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is notoriously difficult, with an attrition rate hovering at between 70 percent and 85 percent for enlisted and over 90 percent for officers, thus making it one of the most selective special operations pipelines in the U.S. military.

How fast do Navy SEALs have to run 4 miles? ›

This is what separates SEALs from all other US Special Operations Forces. By the end of Second Phase, candidates must complete timed 2-mile swim with fins in 80 minutes, the 4-mile run with boots in 31 minutes, a 3.5-mile and 5.5-mile swim.

How fast does a Navy SEAL have to run a mile? ›

Run a quarter-mile in 90 seconds between sets of sit-ups. This is a tough workout that can take 30-60 minutes to complete -- if you can complete it.
Navy SEAL PST Standards.
PST EventMinimum StandardsCompetitive Standards
1.5-mile timed run10:309-10 minutes
2 more rows

What is the ideal height for a Navy SEAL? ›

Enlisted SEAL

Height: 5 ft. 10 in.

How brutal is Navy SEAL training? ›

The SEAL teams have faced criticism for decades, both from outsiders and their own Navy leadership, that their selection course, known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training or BUD/S, is too difficult, too brutal, and too often causes concussions, broken bones, dangerous infections and near-drownings.

What tactics do Navy SEALs use? ›

4 Navy SEAL Tactics to Think Clearly in a Crisis
  • 1. Box breathing. Controlled breathing calms your mind and reduces stress. ...
  • Positivity. The fear wolf has a counterpart--the courage wolf. ...
  • Visualization. We're all familiar with great athletes who visualize a successful outcome. ...
  • Front-sight focus.
May 20, 2020

What fighting skills do Navy SEALs learn? ›

Navy SEAL combat training gets its essential elements from the core of traditional boxing. Skills like quick thinking, agility, and footwork speed are taught first. The emphasis is on being a practical fighter that can deal with direct confrontation rather than relying on showy maneuvers to defeat an opponent.

How do I increase my mental toughness? ›

Strategies to help build mental strength
  1. Acknowledge your feelings. ...
  2. Practice being self-compassionate. ...
  3. Assess your challenge. ...
  4. Take small steps toward what you want to avoid. ...
  5. Work on mindfulness. ...
  6. Externalize how you feel. ...
  7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
May 20, 2022

Do Navy SEALs get nervous? ›

Experts say that your fears could be holding you back from success. No one is immune to anxiety, not even Navy SEALS. Jocko Willink spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, and he served in one of the most highly decorated special operations units of the Iraq war — and he has experienced fear throughout his career.

How do you train like a Navy SEAL? ›

Physical Training Schedule
  1. Pushups: 6 sets of 30 reps.
  2. Situps: 6 sets of 35 reps.
  3. Pull-ups: 3 sets of 10 reps.
  4. Dips: 3 sets of 20 reps.
Jan 26, 2020

What is the average age of an active Navy SEAL? ›

Navy Seal Age Breakdown

Interestingly enough, the average age of navy seals is 30-40 years old, which represents 41% of the population.

How long do Navy SEALs sleep for? ›

' You get 4 hours of sleep. You're not allowed to have any caffeine. Throughout the entire week, you're hungry, you're cold, you're sandy, you're wet, just the lack of sleep. Constantly getting pushed harder and harder.”

What is the 555 breathing technique? ›

Inhale very slowly through your nose for 5 seconds: 1-2-3-4-5. Exhale very slowly through your nose or mouth for 5 seconds: 1-2-3-4-5. Wait for 5 seconds: 1-2-3-4-5. Repeat the process three more times (1 minute total).

What is the divorce rate for Navy SEALs? ›

34. The divorce rate among U.S. Navy Seals is over 90 percent.

How many times can you attempt buds? ›

You only get three chances with most events. If you fail three of anything, you will be back in the fleet. Related Navy Special Operations articles: Navy SEAL Fitness Preparation.

Why do people quit SEAL training? ›

Seventy-five percent to 80% of people do not make it through Navy SEAL training, because they either quit, failed to meet the standards, were injured or did something stupid and were kicked out.

How much do Navy SEALs run everyday? ›

Running. Running is a significant part of SEAL training, and the distance trainees cover increases over time. For the first two weeks of training, they run two miles a day at an 8-1/2 minute pace for three days a week. After that period, they run three miles a day for four days a week.

How fit are Navy SEALs? ›

The Navy SEALs fitness test requires you to run 15 miles in 10.5 minutes; swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes; complete 50 pushups in two minutes; 50 curl-ups in two minutes; and 10 pull-ups in two minutes. The more you exceed the minimum, the better your shot.

How long do Navy SEALs hold their breath? ›

Navy SEALs can hold their breath underwater for two to three minutes or more. Breath-holding drills are typically used to condition a swimmer or diver and to build confidence when going through high-surf conditions at night, said Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL and best-selling author of the book “Among Heroes.”

How do military build mental toughness? ›

Wake up early to train, work, etc.

Doing something that also will cause discomfort to your body like military PT, running, sports team practice (first of a two-a-day), finishing homework and studying, or to do a job you do not like. All of these are examples of a way to build mental toughness each day of your life.

What personality traits do Navy SEALs have? ›

The necessary Navy SEAL character traits include self-confidence and maturity. You have to be willing to follow orders and carry out your assignments under heavy stress or danger. You don't need a college degree to become a SEAL, but training will test your mental ability and character to the max.

What are the 6 markers of mental toughness? ›

There are at least six markers of mental toughness from sports psychology that apply equally well to business situations.
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Responsiveness. ...
  • Strength. ...
  • Courage and ethics. ...
  • Resiliency. ...
  • Sportsmanship.
Sep 17, 2010

Can mental toughness be learned? ›

While twin studies have suggested there is a genetic aspect to mental toughness, it is still possible to teach and develop mental toughness skills.

What are the 5 ways to build mental toughness? ›

  • Give Yourself a Hug. Most of us begin an avalanche of self-criticism the moment things don't go according to plan. ...
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Goal. Knowing what we want is the single biggest predictor of success. ...
  • Celebrate Past Successes. ...
  • Talk Positively to Yourself. ...
  • Take Action.


1. Emotional Resiliency & Mental Toughness
2. How Navy SEAL Mental Training Helped Me Win The USA Memory Championships
(Ron White Memory Expert - Memory Training & Brain Training)
3. Navy Seal: Mind Hacks for Mental Toughness. HJ 😎
(Hum Jeetenge)
4. Navy SEALs: Master self-talk and mental toughness | David Goggins & more | Big Think
(Big Think)
5. Mental Toughness - Navy Seal's Way | Jocko Willink ft. Dwayne Johnson [Motivational Video Workout]
(Clarity Coaching - Transforming Lives)
6. Mental Toughness Secrets Of Navy SEALs
(Train Effective)


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