Your mental strength is more evident in what actions you refrain from, rather than those which you take.
In her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” Amy Morin writes that developing mental strength is a “three-pronged approach.” Take charge of your life by managing your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.
According to Morin, mentally strong individuals do not engage in the following thirteen activities.
This article was originally written by Steven Benna and has since been updated.
1. They don’t wallow in self-pity.
They don’t gripe; they give thanks.
“Feeling sorry for yourself is self-destructive,” Morin writes. “Indulging in self-pity hinders living a full life.” Holding onto grudges is a waste of time, and it can damage your relationships.
The key is to “affirm the good in the world, and you will begin to appreciate what you have,” she writes. The goal is to replace self-pity with gratitude.
2. They never give away their power.
Oprah Winfrey has a firm hold on her power.
According to Morin, people give away their power when they lack physical and emotional boundaries. Thus, it is important to stand up for oneself and draw the line when necessary. If other people are calling the shots of your life, then they also get to define your success and self-worth. As such, you must keep track of your goals so that you can continue working toward them even when obstacles appear.
Morin provides Oprah Winfrey as an example of someone who knows how to utilize their power. Winfrey grew up dealing with poverty and sexual abuse, but “she chose to define who she was going to be in life by not giving away her power.”
3. Change does not scare them.
Instead, they accept the inevitable.
Morin lays out five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
Each of the five steps must be completed for success. growth does not come from shrinking away in fear of change, but by making changes. “The longer you wait, the harder it gets,” she says. “Other people will outgrow you.”
4. They don’t focus on things outside of their control.
They focus on their strengths.
“It feels so safe to have everything under control, but thinking we have the power to always pull the strings can become problematic,” Morin writes. If you’re struggling to control everything in your life, it’s likely due to anxiety.
“Rather than focusing on managing your anxiety, you try controlling your environment,” she says. Redirecting your attention away from things you can’t control can lead to increased happiness, reduced stress, stronger relationships, fresh opportunities and more success.
[Related: 8 Tips for Beating Your Anxiety]
5. They are not afraid to displease others.
People who have power can say “no.”
According to Morin, we often place our self-worth on the thoughts of others instead of looking inward. This is detrimental to developing mental toughness. There are four drawbacks to continuously trying to seek approval from those around us: It’s a fruitless task; people-pleasers can be easily taken advantage of; it’s natural for others to feel angry or disappointed occasionally–you cannot stop this from happening, and you cannot make everyone happy all the time.
By letting go of your need to please everyone, you will become more confident and secure in yourself.
6. They aren’t afraid to take risks that they have calculated.
Rather, they ready themselves for what’s to come.
People tend to shy away from risk, be it financial, physical, emotional, social or business-related; however, Morin attests that this hesitance is born of a lack of knowledge. “A lack of knowledge about how to calculate risk leads to increased fear,” Morin writes.
The following questions will help you better assess a risk.
- How much will this cost me?
- What are the possible advantages?
- How will this help me reach my goal?
- What are other options?
- What if the best-case scenario happened?
- By thinking about the absolute worst that could happen, and creating a plan to prevent it or mitigate its effects, I can reduce stress and anxiety.
- What if the worst-case scenario did come true?
- Will this decision still matter five years from now?
7. They live in the present.
Looking back on the past helps them learn and grow.
According to Morin, “The past is in the past.” This means that what has happened cannot be changed, and thinking about it too much can actually hold you back from enjoying the present or planning for the future. When people “dwell” on the past, they often become depressed because it doesn’t solve anything.
According to her, while it can be harmful to constantly dwell on the past, there are some benefits that come with thinking reflectively about past experiences. She advises taking into account what was learned from them, examining the situation objectively rather than emotionally, and trying to see it from a different perspective.
8. They avoid repeating the same mistakes.
They take responsibility and change their behavior.
According to Morin, reflecting on your past accomplishments and failures is key to ensuring you don’t make the same mistakes twice. By critically analyzing what went wrong and why, as well as brainstorming ways to do it better next time, you set yourself up for future success.
People who are mentally strong own up to their mistakes and learn from them by creating a written plan to prevent repeating the same error.
9. They aren’t envious of other people’s success.
They are happy about the successes of others.
Resentment is like anger that smolders instead of being expressed, Morin writes. Focusing on another person’s success distracts you from your own path and won’t lead to your own success.
If you’re constantly fixated on what other people have and comparing it to your life, you may never find contentment. This can also lead to neglecting your own talents and letting go of cherished relationships and values.
10. They are persistent and don’t give up easily.
Dr. Seuss was an author who kept writing despite facing near-constant rejection from publishers.
Success seldom comes quickly, and you will almost certainly face failures along the way. “Take, for example, Theodor Giesel—also known as Dr. Seuss—whose first book was rejected by more than 20 publishers,” Morin says. Dr. Seuss is now a household name.
Having the belief that you must always succeed or be perfect to avoid shame does not show mental strength. In fact, “bouncing back after failure will make you stronger,” Morin writes.
11. Being alone does not scare them.
Instead of wasting time, they make sure to set some time alone.
“Creating time to be alone with your thoughts can be a powerful experience, instrumental in helping you reach your goals,” Morin writes. Becoming mentally strong “requires you to take time out from the busyness of daily life to focus on growth.”
According to Morin’s book, some benefits of solitude are:
- Being alone at work can help you get more done.
- Being alone could make you more compassionate.
- Being alone jumpstarts creativity.
- Developing solitary skills can improve your mental health.
- Being alone can rejuvenate you.
12. They understand that the world does not revolve around them.
They focus their efforts.
Anger will do nothing for you but hold you back. The world doesn’t owe anyone anything–success must be earned through hard work.
“Life isn’t meant to be fair,” Morin says. If some people experience more happiness or success than others, “that’s life—but it doesn’t mean you’re owed anything if you were dealt a bad hand.”
Morin suggests that in order to be successful, you should focus on your own efforts, accept criticism gracefully, and acknowledge your weaknesses. Trying to compare yourself to others will only leave you feeling disappointed if things don’t go the way that think they should.
13. Patience is a virtue for those using this method.
They accomplish small tasks that help them reach their goal.
“A willingness to develop realistic expectations and an understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight is necessary if you want to reach your full potential,” Morin writes. People who lack mental fortitude are typically impatient, she says. They tend to overestimate their abilities and underestimate how long change takes, so they demand immediate results.
Keep your long-term goals in sight and continuously work toward them. You will have failures, but if you track your progress and look at the entire situation, success is possible.
Business Insider was the original publisher of this article.
[Related: 15 Successful People on Their Struggles With Anxiety]