We often hear advice like, “Think positive, and good things will happen,” or, “Try your hardest, and eventually things will work out.” While such words of wisdom certainly have merit, these well-meaning suggestions won’t help you reach your goals if you’re simultaneously engaging in unhealthy behavior.
Recognizing and replacing the unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that may be sabotaging your best efforts is the key to building mental strength.
Try comparing mental strength to physical strength. An exercise regimen won’t be effective in building lean muscle unless unhealthy eating habits are also eliminated.
Similarly, building mental muscle requires hard work, dedication and exercise. In addition to
adopting healthy habits, avoiding detrimental habits is also essential.
Here are the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do:
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Many of life’s problems and sorrows are inevitable, but feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. If you’re prone to feeling sorry for yourself when the going gets rough, train your brain to exchange self-pity for gratitude. Mentally strong people don’t waste their time and energy thinking about the problem, instead they focus on creating a solution.
2. Give Away Their Power
It can be very tempting to blame other people for our problems and circumstances. Thinking things like, “My mother-in-law makes me feel bad about myself,” gives others power over us. Take back your power by accepting full responsibility for how you think, feel, and behave.
3. Shy Away From Change
Although we feel safest when we stay within our comfort zones, avoiding new challenges serves as the biggest obstacle to living a full and rich life. The more you practice tolerating the uncomfortable feelings associated with change, the more confident you’ll become in your ability to create your future.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
So often, we worry about all the wrong things. Rather than focus on preparing for the storm, we waste energy wishing the storm wouldn’t come. If we invested that same energy into the things we do have control over, we’d be much better prepared for whatever life throws our way.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others
A lot of people say, “I don’t care what other people think,” but often that’s a defense mechanism meant to shield them from the hurt and pain associated with rejection. Doing and saying things that may not be met with favor takes courage, but living a truly authentic life requires you to live according to your values, even when your choices aren’t popular.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks
We make dozens—if not hundreds—of choices every day with very little consideration of the risks we’re taking. Making decisions based on your level of fear isn’t an accurate way to calculate risk. Emotions are often irrational and unreliable. You don’t get to be extraordinary without taking risks, and learning how to accurately calculate risk will ensure you’re making the best choices.
7. Dwell on the Past
While reflecting on the past and learning from it is a helpful part of building mental strength, ruminating can be harmful. Making peace with the past so you can live for the present and plan for the future can be hard, especially if you’ve endured a lot of misfortune, but it’s a necessary step in becoming your best self.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
It’d be nice to learn enough from each mistake that we’d be guaranteed to never repeat that same mistake twice. But the reality is that we’re prone to repeat the same mistakes sometimes. Mentally strong people don’t hide their mistakes or make excuses for them. Instead they turn their mistakes into opportunities for self-growth.
9. Resent Other People’s Success
Watching a co-worker receive a promotion or hearing a friend talk about her achievements can stir up feelings of envy. When you’re secure in our own definition of success, you’ll stop envying other people for obtaining their goals and you’ll be committed to reaching your dreams.
10. Give Up After Failure
It’s normal to feel embarrassed, discouraged, and downright defeated when your first attempts don’t work. Mentally strong people view failure as proof that they’re pushing themselves to the limits in their efforts to reach their full potential.
11. Fear Alone Time
In today’s fast paced world, obtaining a little quiet time often takes a concerted effort. Time to yourself is an essential component to building mental strength. Mentally strong people create opportunities to be alone with their thoughts, reflect on their progress, and create goals for the future.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything
It’s easy to get caught up in feeling a sense of entitlement. But waiting for the world—or the people in it—to give you what you think we’re owed isn’t a helpful life strategy. If you’re busy trying to take what you think you deserve, you won’t have any time to focus on all that you have to give.
13. Expect Immediate Results
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in life could happen at the touch of a button? We often grow so accustomed to our “no lines, no waiting” world, that our brains begin to believe that everything should happen instantaneously. But self-growth develops at more of a snail’s pace, rather than at lightning speed. Mentally strong people know that true change takes time and they’re willing to work hard to see results.
The good news is, everyone has the ability to build mental strength. But to do so, you need to develop self-awareness about the self-destructive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that prevent you from reaching your full potential. Once you recognize areas that need work, committing to mental strength exercises will help you create healthier habits and build mental muscle.