One aspect of confidence that is rarely discussed is mental strength. While you may be able to identify a confident person based on their presence--the way that they carry themselves as they enter a room--you may not as easily pinpoint the mentality that aids their self-trust. And while everyone wants to be confident, many people overlook the fact that genuine self-assurance isn't just about looking the part, it's also about having the mental fortitude to persevere through difficult circumstances.

Many people want to know how to gain mental strength without first knowing what it is. As a life coach and licensed therapist, I've thought a lot about mental strength. While scientists make it a very complex and difficult concept to measure, I think it has three essential components:

1. The ability to apply willpower and discipline when necessary to overcome obstacles.

2. A self-reflective ability to maintain awareness of how small actions contribute to a larger vision.

3. The capacity to maintain mental and emotional flexibility while adapting to changing circumstances.

Now that you know what mental strength is, it's time to learn how to build it so that you can be the confident and mentally powerful person you've always wanted to become. The list below contains five ways powerfully confident people gain mental strength.

1. Practice pushing yourself through physical, mental, and emotional discomfort.

Willpower and discipline are muscles in that they need to be flexed and then relaxed to grow. And you just can't force yourself to break through resistance once and expect yourself to have real discipline, you must exercise this muscle on a consistent basis to make substantial progress.

For example, try exercising with a personal trainer. Work with the other person to break through your barriers of physical pain and discomfort. Or, to challenge yourself mentally, study a subject of interest as if you were preparing for a final exam. Don't stop when you're tired, research as if your life depended on it.

2. Create a routine of reflecting on how you are growing and changing as a person and professional.

Three ways people schedule time to reflect on their personal and professional growth includes: journaling, setting and tracking goals, and engaging in therapy. Regardless of which method you choose, commit for three to six months and I guarantee that your perception--the way you see yourself, others, and the world--will change.

3. Schedule down time to relax and appreciate the present moment.

This paradoxical point is a vital component to sustained growth. Creating down time to socialize and relax will help you integrate emerging parts of yourself and become more familiar with your current state.

In time, practicing gratitude for what you have and where you're currently at in your life will help clarify your sense of direction and make each success taste sweeter.

4. Practice non-attachment by expressing and then releasing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

You can't just wish uncomfortable thoughts away. Repeating positive mantras over and over again likely won't help. To truly release uncomfortable feelings, you need to express them.

Whether it's through art, writing, music, therapy, or something else, discover what works for you and then start sharing your pain. The more you share, the more you release, and the freer you are to maintain mental flexibility.

5. Let go of your need for validation and external approval (and start recognizing your unique internal value).

When you are constantly seeking approval from others, you become rigid, stubborn, and inflexible. This lack of fluidity prevents real mental strength, which involves being adaptable to the ever-changing world. Honor your unique qualities by being proud of the value you provide others. You are enough.

Gaining mental strength isn't easy, but the truth is that, with hard work, every person can improve their mindset. Expand your comfort zone. Build the willpower and discipline you need overcome difficult events, and gain the mental strength that you need to move through the world as your authentic, confident self.