Building Mental Strength: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Good habits are important.
But oftentimes, it’s the bad ones that hold us back from reach our potential.
No matter how many good habits you implement in your life, if you keep doing the bad habits alongside the good ones, you’ll struggle to achieve your goals. In fact, bad habits are like a heavyweight that slows you down and drains your energy.
Picture someone who’s exercising hard to lose weight while still eating junk food.
Although he’s putting in a good amount of exercise every week, he can’t help but wonder why he isn’t making much progress. It seems ridiculous, but we’re all guilty of such behavior.
We work hard to achieve our goals but we forget about the things that might sabotage our efforts.
Avoiding the 13 habits explained below will help you develop the mental strength you need to deal with life’s problems and reach your potential.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
- What is mental strength?
- 5 Misconception about mental strength.
- Benefits of building mental strength.
- 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
- #1. They don’t feel sorry for themselves.
- #2. They don’t give away their power.
- #3. They Don’t Fear Change.
- #4. They Don’t Focus On Things They Can’t Control.
- #5. They Don’t Strive To Please Everyone.
- #6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks.
- #7. They don’t dwell on the past.
- #8. They Don’t Make The Same Mistake Over And Over.
- #9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success.
- #10. They Don’t Give Up After The First Failure.
- #11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time.
- #12. They Don’t Feel The World Owes Them Anything.
- #13. They don’t expect immediate results.
What is mental strength?
Developing mental strength is about improving your ability to control your emotions and manage thoughts by identifying irrational thoughts and replacing them with more rational ones, and the ability to behave in a positive manner no matter what the circumstances are.
Some of us find it easier to develop mental strength more than others, and there are factors that can influence your mental strength such as genetics, certain personality traits, going through hard experiences… but there’s always room for improvement.
Anyone can increase their mental strength by devoting time and energy to grow and become mentally strong.
5 Misconception about mental strength.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to mental strength such as:
1. Being mentally strong is about action tough.
You don’t have to appear tough to be mentally strong. Mental strength is more about acting according to your values.
2. Mental strength requires you to ignore your emotions.
You don’t need to suppress your feelings to appear mentally strong.
It’s rather about becoming more aware of your emotions and understanding how your emotions can influence your thoughts and behavior.
3. Mental strength is about ignoring your pain.
You don’t have to push yourself physically and emotionally to the limits to look strong mentally.
You need to understand your feelings and thoughts and determine when to act accordingly and when to act contrary to them.
4. Mental strength requires you to be self-reliant.
Being mentally strong isn’t about proclaiming that you don’t need help from anyone. It’s more about being able to ask for help when you need it and admit that you don’t have all the answers.
5. Mental strength is about chasing happiness.
Mental strength helps you to be more content in life in general.
However, it isn’t about forcing yourself to be happy and suppressing any sad feelings you need to feel.
Benefits of building mental strength.
We usually feel strong mentally when life is good. But when an unfortunate event happens, that’s when we need mental strength most to help us deal with the challenge at hand and cope better with the changes.
In fact, mental strength helps increase resilience to stress by helping you handle problems more efficiently and effectively.
It also helps improve life satisfaction, in general, by increasing your confidence in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
You don’t become an expert at anything by reading on it alone. You’ll need to put what you learn into practice.
The following habits will help you examine your behavior and make the necessary changes to become mentally strong.
#1. They don’t feel sorry for themselves.
When dealing with stress, feeling sorry for yourself will put off working on finding a solution, and moving forward in life.
Mentally strong people never indulge in self-pity thinking.
They never complain about how bad their luck is. Instead, they engage themselves in dealing with their stress by doing the following:
1- They acknowledge any negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones.
2- They get active and try different activities they enjoy in a way that makes them feel good about themselves and their lives.
3- They practice gratitude every day. By acknowledging the good in their lives, it becomes easier for them to face the one negative situation at hand.
Instead of seeing themselves as a victim of their problems, mentally strong people think of it as an opportunity to grow as individuals and become mentally stronger.
This allows them to exchange self-pity with gratitude.
#2. They don’t give away their power.
You give others power to control the way you feel, think, and behave when you spend so much time complaining about them, and hold grudges against them, or when you change your goals and decisions based on what they want you to do, or even when a criticism offends you regardless of whether or not it was accurate.
When you give away your power, it becomes hard for you to feel good about yourself without depending on others and how well things in your life go.
You let others define your self-worth and you start feeling helpless as you feel you’ve no control over your choices in life in general.
You might grow resentful towards those who are deciding for you or taking much or your time and energy, which in order is bound to ruin your relationships.
Mentally strong people don’t give away their power. They’re always aware of ways they might be giving away their powers and make necessary adjustments.
They reclaim back their power by doing the following:
1- They use a language that acknowledges their choice in everything they do. They keep in mind that whatever they’re doing is their choice and has consequences. Instead of saying “I have to go to work tomorrow”, they recognize that going to work is a choice. Not showing up might have consequences, they might not get paid, and they might get fired altogether. But in the end, it’s a choice.
2- They set healthy emotional and physical boundaries with others. They don’t let someone guilt them into doing something they don’t want to do.
3- They take full responsibility for the way they choose to think, feel, and behave.
4- They examine feedback and criticism before jumping to conclusions and responding back. They look for evidence of how accurate the feedback is. If it’s justified, then it’s a chance for them to change and improve themselves.
5- They choose to forgive others regardless of whether or not they’re seeking their forgiveness. Forgiveness will not only give them peace of mind but also help improve their mental and physical health by lowering their stress level.
You retain your power when you’re confident in who you are and the decisions and choices you make, regardless of what other people around you think of do.
#3. They Don’t Fear Change.
Mentally strong people don’t shy away from change. They’re aware of the discomfort a change might bring and are willing to tolerate for the greater good.
They know that the alternative would be risking staying the same while the world is moving forward. They realize that the longer they wait before making the change, the harder it’s going to get.
So they take action now and prepare to make change including the following:
1- They Evaluate how ready they are for the change with an open mind. They make a list of potential pros and cons of making a change as well as these of staying the same.
2- They work hard to align their emotions and thoughts with the desired change. They don’t allow their emotions to dictate whether or not to change without considering the logical aspects of making a change.
3- They set realistic goals for themselves to achieve within realistic time frames. They divide the change into smaller goals with clear action steps and focus on them one at a time.
4- They anticipate potential challenges that might interfere with their progress. They make a plan for how they’ll respond to any potential obstacles that might arise.
5- They start behaving like the person they want to become. They are proactive about behaving like the person they want to become. If they want to become healthier, they start behaving like a healthy person. They start following a healthy diet and engage in more physical activity.
Mentally strong people realize that embracing change is a two-way street.
The more they embrace positive change, the stronger they become mentally, and the more they’re willing to embrace more change.
#4. They Don’t Focus On Things They Can’t Control.
Mentally strong people don’t waste their time and energy on things they can’t control. They acknowledge that they can’t fit all the circumstances and people in our lives, into the way they think they should be.
They also realize that trying to keep everything under their control is going to create so much anxiety and stress and is probably going to ruin their relationships with those they might try to control and change.
Instead they choose to devote more of their time and energy toward the things they can control, which allow them to achieve more in life.
They achieve that by doing the following:
1- They’re aware that, as there are things within their control, there are many other things that aren’t. They acknowledge that while they can take someone out, they can’t control whether or not they have fun. And that while they can work hard, they can’t make their boss recognize their work.
2- They focus on solving problems that are within their control. They direct their energy and time toward the things they can control, all while bearing in mind that oftentimes, all they have control over is their attitude and behavior.
3- They influence others without trying to control them. Even if they don’t approve of the way people around them behave, they know better than to nag or demand. Instead, they would listen first before giving their opinion and sharing their concerns.
They realize that people can get defensive if they feel not listened to. They would also give genuine praise when the person makes some progress in changing.
Mentally strong people acknowledge that while having everything under control might feel good, there’s just no way they’ll even be able to always be in control. There’s so much outside of our control and it’s a waste of time and energy to believe otherwise.
They realize also that letting go of the need to control everything is going to make them happier and much more peaceful, they’ll have better relationships and they’ll experience more success as they’re busy focusing on the things they can control.
#5. They Don’t Strive To Please Everyone.
Mentally strong people don’t strive to please everyone.
They don’t feel responsible for how other people feel, and they don’t find themselves going to great lengths to avoid conflicts and disagreement, which means they don’t hesitate to express a contrary point of view and they’re not afraid to say NO when they don’t want to do something.
They realize that their self-worth doesn’t stem from others’ approval and that the best way to maintain healthy relationships is by setting healthy boundaries so no one will take advantage of the other person and the relationship would be based on honesty and mutual respect.
So they make sure that whatever they do, they don’t do it just to please others. To achieve that, they do the following:
1- They determine who they want to please. Mentally strong people realize that in order for them to achieve their goals, they’ll need to choose their own path, including the things they should spend their time and energy on.
All while bearing in mind that pleasing people is really a waste of time and energy since no one can people everyone around them.
2- They identify their values and behave according to them. Mentally strong people have a clear definition of their top values in life and they make sure that pleasing people isn’t one of them.
More importantly, mentally strong people know that leading a fulfilling life is achieved when they’re living in line with their beliefs and values.
3- They take time before saying yes or no to someone’s request. Before saying yes or no to someone’s request, mentally strong people determine whether or not it’s something they want to do and what will they gain from doing it, whether it was an opportunity to learn something and grow or a simple act of kindness.
They also identify the way they’ll feel if they did it. They make sure that whatever they do, they do it willingly, so they won’t end up resentful and feeling taken advantage of.
4- They learn to be more assertive. Mentally strong people aren’t afraid to ask for something they want to speak up for themselves. They know that one can be assertive while remaining polite and respectful.
Mentally strong people realize that accepting that they can’t please everyone will make them stronger by increasing their self-confidence in making the right choices that are aligned with their values.
They also realize how avoiding doing things to just please others is going to allow them to have time and energy to devote to achieve their goals and lead a fulfilling life.
#6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks.
Mentally strong people don’t fear taking calculated risks.
They realize that taking risks is inevitable and essential for our growth, whether they were physical, emotional, social or financial to name a few.
They don’t allow their fear to cloud their logic and hold them from taking the risk.
Instead, mentally strong people work on managing their fear of risk-taking by doing the following:
1- They balance emotion with logic. They don’t make their final decision based on their anxiety level.
They know that the more emotional one is, the less rational his thoughts will be. So they rationalize their thoughts by looking into the facts.
2- They calculate the risk. The level of risk in any given situation is unique to each person.
So, to calculate their level of risk, mentally strong people define the potential risks of every situation and measure these risks if possible such as the case of the risk of losing invested money.
They also consider the benefits of taking the risk and how close it’ll bring them to their goal.
3- They minimize the risk. After determining the worst-case scenario of taking the risk, they look for ways to minimize the consequences and define the necessary steps to take or an alternative strategy in some cases.
4- They practice taking risks. Mentally strong people know that the best way to overcome their anxiety of risk-taking is by practicing taking more risks.
The more risks they’ll take, the more comfortable they’ll become at doing it.
#7. They don’t dwell on the past.
Mentally strong people, while they realize how important it is to self-reflect and learn from their past mistakes, they also don’t dwell on their past.
They realize that the longer they dwell in the past, the more they lose in the present, and they know how self-destructive dwelling on the past can be.
So they make sure they don’t spend their time and energy wondering what their life would’ve turned out if they’d chosen a different path or repeatedly replay past memories in their minds.
They do so by following these steps:
1- They shift their thinking. Whenever they’re tempted the ruminate on their past, they actively shift their thoughts by scheduling time later to think about past events, like twenty minutes after dinner, and then they move on to something else.
They also distract their thoughts by thinking about other things such as planning for their future and setting goals for themselves.
2- They keep their experiences in perspective. They realize that when people recall a negative event, they tend to exaggerate and catastrophize it.
So, they actively work on keeping their experiences in perspective by focusing on the lesson there is to learn and growing thought it. They also try to discard the emotions surrounding the experience and think more about the facts like who was there, what you wore, where you sat, what had been said.
Another thing they do is to tell the story differently. The same story can be told in numerous ways and still be true, and if their current version of the story is upsetting, they find a new way to look at it.
3- They make peace with their past. Mentally strong people realize that the amount of time spent grieving isn’t directly proportional to the amount of love you had for the person or thing you lost.
So, they work proactively on making peace with their past by recognizing the emotional and physical toll of dwelling on the past and its consequences in the long term.
And whether they’re hurt and angry because of themselves or someone else, they forgive radically. They realize that holding grudges isn’t going to help them.
By accepting their past and making peace with it, mentally strong people let go of any lingering anger, shame or regret that might hold them from enjoying their present moment and reach their goals.
#8. They Don’t Make The Same Mistake Over And Over.
Mentally strong people don’t repeat the same mistake over and over. They don’t deny or hide their mistakes.
Rather they face it, examine it, and learn their lesson so they won’t repeat it in the future. Especially, they’re not afraid to tolerate whatever discomfort and pain that might come from having to find new ways to do things, so they won’t get back to their old behavioral pattern.
Mentally strong people realize that facing their mistakes and learning from them is their way to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.
They also realize that unless they actively work on solving the problem, they’re going to repeat the same mistakes.
So to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over, mentally strong people do the following:
1- They examine their mistakes. Mentally strong people know that the best way to avoid repeating mistakes is to learn from them, and that can only be done through examining these mistakes.
They set any negative feelings aside and start looking for reasons why it went wrong and figure out what could be done differently next time.
2- They create a strategy. After examining their mistakes, they set a plan of action to help them avoid falling in the same trap. So they replace their old habit with a good one, and they stay on the lookout for any signs they might give in to their old behavioral pattern.
They also hold themselves accountable to stay on track and keep their progress, whether it was with the help of a friend or a family member or even by using a calendar to chart their progress.
3- They practice self-discipline. They know that change can only be maintained through self-discipline, so they resist temptations and start tolerating any discomfort that results from the change.
They know that if they give in once, they’ll fall back, so they control themselves. They might also resort to imposing restrictions on themselves. If they know they’re likely to spend so much time scrolling on social media, they might leave their phone in another room.
They also keep reminding themselves of all the reasons why they don’t want to repeat the same mistake by carrying a list stating all these reasons.
Mentally strong people realize that learning from their mistakes is their way to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential, and unless they work actively on learning the lesson, they’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.
#9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success.
Mentally strong people don’t resent other people’s success.
They realize that while occasional jealousy is normal, resentment, on the other hand, isn’t.
They acknowledge that feelings of resentment usually stem from their deep-rooted insecurities, and that’s what they need to address. They also understand how negative resentment can affect their life by wasting so much of their time and energy that otherwise could be devoted to their own goals and success.
They also know that they can never have healthy, nurturing relationships based on resentment.
To avoid resenting others’ success, mentally strong people do the following:
1- They don’t compare themselves to others. Mentally strong people are able to dodge resentful thoughts by avoiding comparing themselves to others.
Instead, they compare themselves today, to who they were before and measure their growth as individuals.
2- They don’t focus on their own weaknesses nor do they magnify others’ strengths. Mentally strong people choose to focus on their own strengths and abilities rather than focusing on what they don’t have or can’t do.
At the same time, they never magnify others’ strengths. They realize that others too have their own insecurities and problems.
3- They never belittle others’ accomplishments. Mentally strong people don’t resort to insulting others’ success to justify their own shortcomings. They don’t try to decide whether or not they deserve their success either.
4- They focus on cooperation rather than competition. Mentally strong people surround themselves with successful people to learn from them and not to compete with them.
5- They create their own definition of success. Mentally strong people keep a clear definition of their success and live according to it. They know that money is only one definition out of many and isn’t the only meter for success.
Whether it was building their family, giving back to the community through their skills and expertise… they make sure they’re doing what makes them feel good about themselves the most.
So whenever they find themselves tempted to resent someone else’s success, they remind themselves that they don’t need to live according to others’ definitions of success.
6- They practice celebrating others’ accomplishments. Mentally strong people take every opportunity to feel genuinely happy for someone else’s accomplishments and congratulate them.
It’s easy to feel resentful when you’re struggling in life while those around you are doing well.
Resisting feelings of resentment and celebrating others’ success takes practice and persistence, but it makes you mentally stronger.
#10. They Don’t Give Up After The First Failure.
Mentally strong people don’t give up after their first failure.
In fact, they consider failure as a stepping stone to success. They know that they can handle setbacks.
They also don’t worry about how others perceive their failure, they believe that failing doesn’t decrease their self-worth, nor does it mean that they’re not good enough or smart enough.
Especially, they don’t believe that people who succeeded were born with a God-given gift for success. They believe in perseverance, so they’re willing to try as much as it takes for them to succeed.
To bounce back after failure, mentally strong people do the following:
1- They identify any self-limiting beliefs about failure. Mentally strong people don’t allow failure to make them doubt themselves and their ability to succeed.
They know that deliberate practice can be more important than natural talent and that perseverance is a more accurate predictor of success than someone’s IQ.
2- They change the way they view failure. Mentally strong people see setbacks as an opportunity to learn and do better next time.
They know that everyone has his own shortcomings and that they can only grow as individuals through learning.
3- They face their fears. Mentally strong people feel the fear and do it anyway. They realize that their fear of failure stems from irrational thoughts and that the best way to feel less scared, is to do the very thing they’re fearing.
They also know that, whatever the outcome, they can handle it.
4- They move forward after failure. Mentally strong people, spend some time examining what went wrong the first time and work on developing a better plan.
Mentally strong people realize that failure can be a good opportunity to challenge themselves and become mentally stronger.
#11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time.
Mentally strong people don’t fear alone time.
Even though spending time alone has developed negative associations in modern society such as being confused with loneliness or being considered as unproductive, mentally strong people, understand that pausing for a few minutes every day and spending some quiet time is essential to process their day’s events and plan for their future.
They also use alone time to improve their mental health and recharge for the next day’s challenges.
To get comfortable spending time alone, mentally strong people do the following:
1- They practice tolerating silence. Instead of bombarding themselves with constant noise in order to drown out their thought and avoid their problems, mentally strong people make sure they spend more time in silence by shutting down background noise and writing in a journal.
They acknowledge that writing down their thoughts helps them learn from their experiences and avoid repeating past mistakes. It also helps them regularly check in on their feelings and detect any signs that things aren’t going well.
2- They incorporate more quiet time. Mentally strong people make sure that when they’re not physically connected to others, they’re not also connected virtually.
So they turn off the TV or the radio when they’re not watching or listening, they also leave their phone in another room when they’re taking a break.
3- They go for a date with themselves. Mentally strong people realize that just as it is important to spend quality time with your loved ones, it’s imperative to spend quality time alone.
So they do they make sure they take themselves for a date at least once every month.
Whether it was seeing a moving, or simply relaxing at the spa, they make sure they do the things they enjoy.
4- They meditate. Meditation is starting to gain more mainstream acceptance as people are starting to acknowledge its benefits on their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Mentally strong people make sure they spend a few minutes every day meditating to help them calm their minds and gain more clarity.
Mentally strong people realize that spending time alone isn’t selfish or a waste of time.
They’re not afraid to schedule time alone to process their thoughts and learn from their experiences. They know that solitude can be a powerful tool to boost their mental strength.
#12. They Don’t Feel The World Owes Them Anything.
Mentally strong people don’t feel the world owes them anything.
They don’t think that just because they’ve been through some unfortunate experiences that they deserve to have good things in life. Nor do they believe that they’re entitled to success without putting in the time and effort, simply because it’s a birth-right.
They realize how complaining about what you don’t have and demanding it, isn’t going to help them in life and will likely make them feel bitter and victimized.
Instead, they take responsibility for their own lives and avoid any attitude of entitlement by doing the following:
1- They develop self-awareness of their sense of entitlement. Mentally strong people are aware of any underlying beliefs that the world owes them something. Such believing that they deserve better than this or that good things should come their way.
They understand that they’re not the only ones with problems and that they aren’t more deserving than others who are putting in time and effort to earn what they’re earning.
2- They Focus more on improving. Instead of focusing on their importance, mentally strong people focus on their effort and always on the look for any room for improvement.
They gracefully accept criticism and if they judge it valid they use it to improve themselves.
3- They work on decreasing their sense of entitlement. Mentally strong people realize that they’re less likely to develop an inflated self-perception when they acknowledge their flaws and weaknesses without using it as an excuse to demand more from the world.
They also decrease their sense of entitlement when they focus on others’ feelings and increase their own empathy without keeping scores of the good deeds they’re doing.
Mentally strong people realize that by accepting that the world gives them without complaining and demanding what they think they’re owed, will increase their mental strength and help them achieve their goals.
#13. They don’t expect immediate results.
Mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results.
They acknowledge that even though the world is becoming increasingly fast-paced, they can’t have everything they want instantly.
So if they don’t see immediate results when undertaking any change or goal, they don’t give up and keep going.
To help them do that, they follow these strategies:
1- They create more realistic expectations. Mentally strong people realize that unrealistic expectations can set them up to fail. So they make sure they don’t overestimate how easy the change is going to be. They also avoid placing a definite timeline for their goals.
They know that while many people claim that establishing a good habit or breaking a bad habit takes about 21 days, reality can be different, it might take much longer than that.
2- They acknowledge that progress isn’t always obvious. Mentally strong people keep in mind that things can get worse before it can get better.
So they keep their sight on their long-term goal and find better ways to measure their progress by determining the results that they can realistically expect within one week, one month and one year.
3- They practice delaying gratification. Mentally strong people know that seeking instant gratification can prevent them from reaching their goals.
So in order to avoid that, they keep their focus on their end goal to motivate themselves and conceive a plan to avoid any potential temptations. And any negative feelings of impatience and frustration that might arise, they learn how to deal with it in a healthy way.
They also make sure they celebrate each milestone toward their end goal.
Mentally strong people understand that success doesn’t happen overnight and that if you want to reach your full potential, you’ll need to set realistic expectations.
We’re bound to make mistakes and have bad days every now and then, by making sure you avoid the habits mentioned above, you can build the mental strength to face your bad days while knowing that you’ll be okay no matter what happens.
Wondering what to read next?
- How to Manage Stress And Anger? 7 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure
- 13 Strategies To Accelerate Your Personal Growth
- How to Successfully Make Changes in Life by Mastering These Three Keys
- How to Be Whole on Your Own: 3 Crucial Steps to Feel Complete and Whole
- Facing Your Fears: 5 Truths About Fear And 5 Ways To Conquer Fear And Get Unstuck
- How to Make Decisions: 8 Tools to Help You Make Decisions You Won’t Regret Later
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, © 2013 by Amy Morin. All rights reserved.