Being mentally strong is not impossible. We all have lapses in mental strength whether we realise it or not. It manifests as subtle reactions and bad behaviours that actually hinder us from the progress we wish to achieve. The trick to building mental strength is to identify these bad behaviours and avoid them. This will allow you to achieve more than you thought possible and bring more happiness to your life.
In this book summary, readers will discover the 13 habits to avoid if they want to be mentally strong.
1. Refrain from feeling sorry for yourself.
Everyone has experienced difficulty at some point in their lives. However, the way people react has a massive impact on how they continue. Mentally strong people tend to not feel sorry for themselves when these difficulties arise. Instead, they practice gratitude.
A good example of this comes from Marla Runyan. She is a long-distance runner, an author and holds a master’s degree in education. She is also legally blind. Runyan’s success can be attributed to her attitude. She has never seen her blindness as a disability and instead is grateful for everything she is able to achieve every day despite it.
Gratitude, as we know, can have a huge impact on your life in terms of mindfulness and mental strength. It can also actually improve your physical health as proven in a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Grateful people have healthier immune systems and have fewer aches and pains. They also tend to be those who exercise regularly, get better sleep and have good health overall. So, not only can you strengthen your mental state by refraining from self-pity but you can also improve your health by substituting it with gratitude.
2. Never give your power away to others.
The one thing successful people have in common is that they have all faced rejection but still persevered. Moments of rejection can easily send you reeling, making you question your abilities and beliefs. However, mentally strong people don’t allow the negative opinions of others to dictate their lives. They refuse to give these naysayers power over their lives.
Madonna, Andy Warhol and Oprah were all rejected when they sought to begin their careers. However, they did not let other people keep them down. They worked hard and never gave up because they knew they were capable. One may wonder how did these people hold on to their power and the answer is simple. They forgave those rejected and mocked them. Holding a grudge against the people who have negative opinions of you will not do anything to them and will not benefit you in any way. In fact, it will limit your abilities and thus take away the power you have in your life.
3. Embrace change.
As much as change can sometimes be a little scary, mentally strong people are able to overcome their hesitations and embrace change. To try to adopt this way of thinking, it is imperative that you start questioning how the change you want to make makes you feel. Whenever a negative feeling or thought arises, pay special attention to them. You will find that most of the time, these fears are unnecessary.
There are five steps you need to follow thereafter for successful change. You need to set yourself a 30-day goal and settle on daily changes in behaviour that will help you achieve your goal. The next thing you need to do is create a list of problems that you expect to arise during the 30 days. This will help you be more prepared when they arise. You also need to create accountability and measure your progress. This is done to ensure that you follow the steps to achieve your goal.
4. Avoid fretting about things you can’t control.
Mentally strong people don’t let things they can’t control affect them. How many times have you lost your cool in traffic? What does it achieve? The trick here is to not waste time on things you cannot control but to instead concentrate on what you can do. Research has shown that relinquishing the need to control everything increases happiness and leads to better relationships. Thus, we need to accept that some things are just outside of our control and that it is okay.
5. Stop worrying about pleasing everyone.
The constant need to please everyone in your life needs to stop. You might feel as if being sensitive to another’s feelings is a good quality to have and it is. However, when you start worrying about how your actions will make them feel more than yourself, it becomes problematic.
You have to be prepared to sometimes do things that other people will not be pleased with. This makes you stronger and much more likely to achieve your goals. It also helps grow your self-confidence as you start listening to yourself and not others. Once you let go of the need to please others, you will find yourself much happier, stronger and more determined to get things done.
6. Never be afraid of taking risks, but be clever about which risks you take.
Staying in your comfort zone will never get you ahead. It usually means that you remain stagnant because you fear taking a risk. The fear of risks is understandable, especially since large risks provide a large opportunity for failure. This in turn can be demotivating which is why risks are avoided in the first place.
However, people who are mentally strong carefully analyze a potential risk before jumping into it. They know they need to be clever about which risks they take and thus take steps to minimise the risk overall.
Once again, you need to analyze why you fear taking the risk and see if they are justified. Most of the time, by doing this, you are able to see that most of your fears are unnecessary and the risk is possible. You just have to be prepared when you eventually take them.
7. Resist the urge to dwell on the past.
The past should remain there. We often spend too much time dwelling on the past that it affects our perception of our present situations. The important thing that mentally strong people remember is that you can’t ignore the past and everything that has happened. What you should do is learn from the experiences and move on with forgiveness.
It is often difficult to let go of the past, especially if current events stir up old and unpleasant memories. However, if you can identify these feelings when they arise you can begin to work through them.
8. Make sure to never make the same mistake twice.
Much like the earlier points, mentally strong people know that they have to learn from their mistakes and move on. They also know that if you learn from your mistakes, there should no reason that they will be repeated.
In order to learn from your mistakes, you need to ask yourself three questions. What did I do wrong? What could I have done better and What can I do differently the next time? If you answer these three questions honestly, you will have a clear idea of what to do next time.
9. Never be resentful of other people’s success.
Did you know that it is natural to resent and envy someone successful? It is actually very common. However, it is also unhealthy to hold on to these feelings. No matter how difficult it is for you to see someone else achieve success, you have to work to overcome this and instead look at ways you can learn from them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to collaborate with them. In the long run, working together with them allows you to motivate and inspire each other. A great example of this was chocolatier Milton Hershey and his employee H.B. Reese. Reese started working on his own candy company whilst he was still employed by Hershey. Instead of being angry, Hershey encouraged Reese and even supplied him with chocolate when he first started making his peanut butter cup. This positive attitude resulted in both men being extremely successful in their own right.
10. Keep at it and never give up after an initial failure.
Mentally strong people know that success usually occurs after quite a bit of failure. This is why they see failure as the stepping stones to their success. Your attitude to failure is thus important. You have to be self-compassionate and understand that failure is a part of the process. If you can do this, then you can go forward with a positive outlook. If you are disheartened by failure, the chances of you being able to succeed in future become less likely.
11. Face your fears of being alone and overcome them.
Most of the time, the thought of being alone can be scary. However, mentally strong people are not afraid of being alone. They understand that this quiet time can be beneficial leading to moments of reflection and inspiration. It might take a while for you to reach this level of comfort with being alone. Often, we seek distraction but with a little practice you, too, can be comfortable being alone.
You can use the time alone to define your goals and the steps needed to reach them. It is also a great time to evaluate your emotions and identify what is impacting you negatively. Use a journal to document these and over time you will find yourself being more comfortable with being alone and more in tune with how you feel and what you want.
12. Be on your guard for feelings of entitlement.
A sense of entitlement can be a dangerous thing. When people believe that the world owes them something, they refrain from working towards it. This will get you nowhere fast and this is something that mentally strong people know. They do not expect anything from anyone, instead, they concentrate on giving.
If they concentrate on giving, they are doing something constructive and no waiting for a handout from the universe. Chances are, that by giving, they will achieve more than they would have by just sitting around.
13. Never expect immediate results and be patient.
The last thing that mentally strong people understand is that it takes time to achieve their goals. You cannot be impatient and neither can you be disheartened by the lack of immediate results. And sometimes, if things take long, we tend to give up on them even when we are so close to success.
You need to set realistic expectations. Understand that change takes time and you have to take it a step at a time. Goals should have an approximate deadline and not a fixed one. Everyone is different and how long it takes to achieve goals will also differ. Do not compare yourself with others!
The key takeaway from 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is:
Mentally strong people are able to achieve their goals because they recognize that some things are not worth wasting time over. It is not easy for everyone but with some time, you too can develop these qualities. The most important thing is not to let other people, failure and mistakes dishearten you. You have to view everything as an opportunity to learn and grow, thus taking you closer to your goals.
How can I implement the lessons learned in 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do:
Spend time alone. Don’t be afraid of it. Being alone is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. This makes you mentally stronger, not only to achieve your goals but also to strengthen the relationships that you have. You will be able to truly identify what makes you happy and what does not, thus clearing up your path for the future.