As a psychotherapist, I’ve witnessed countless people beating the odds. Despite the tragedies, hardships, and challenges they faced, they persisted.
My training had taught me to build on people’s existing strengths. But over the years, I’ve realized that helping people “do more” of their good habits was sometimes doing them a disservice.
If you sought help from a nutritionist to lose weight and the nutritionist said, “Eat more vegetables,” but never mentioned you should “eat less junk food,” you probably wouldn’t succeed. And you’d likely feel frustrated by your lack of progress.
Similarly, building mental strength requires good habits–like practicing gratitude–but you also need to give up bad habits–like giving up after your first failure.
Often, people go through life with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake. Giving up the things mentally strong people don’t do is like taking your foot off the brake. You’ll move forward with less resistance.
Everyone engages in habits that drain them of mental strength from time to time. But being aware of those bad habits is the first step in giving them up.
Here are 13 things mentally strong people don’t do:
1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
Feeling sad or grieving a loss is critical to your healing process. But self-pity is about magnifying your misfortune and exaggerating your hardship. It causes you to dwell on your problems and stay stuck in your misery.
2. They don’t give away their power.
Saying your boss makes you feel bad about yourself gives that person power over your emotions. And declaring you have to go to your mother-in-law’s house for dinner gives her power over your behavior. Retaining your power is about acknowledging that you are in control over how you think, feel, and behave at all times.
3. They don’t shy away from change.
Change feels scary, because there is no guarantee doing something different will improve your life. But shying away from change will prevent you from growing stronger and becoming better. The world is changing, and success often depends on your ability to adapt.
4. They don’t focus on things they can’t control.
Time and energy are finite resources, so it’s important to devote your efforts to the things that you can control. So while you can’t prevent the storm from happening, you can control how you prepare for it.
5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
Other people can’t control your emotions, and you can’t control theirs. It’s not your job to try and make other people happy. In fact, becoming a people-pleaser will cause you to lose sight of your values, and your self-worth will become dependent on other people’s opinions of you.
6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks.
Just because something feels scary doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s risky. Balance your emotions with logic so you can calculate risks wisely. Taking the right risks will challenge you to reach your greatest potential.
7. They don’t dwell on the past.
Reflecting on the past is healthy, but dwelling on it keeps you stuck. The only time you can change your behavior is now, so stay present in the moment so you can take action.
8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
Put your energy into learning from your mistakes–not covering them up. Acknowledge your missteps and commit to doing better next time.
9. They don’t resent other people’s success.
Comparing yourself with other people leads to resentment. And over time, resentment can turn into bitterness. The only person you should compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday.
10. They don’t give up after the first failure.
Failure is proof that you’re pushing yourself to your limits. But just because you failed once doesn’t mean you are a failure. Turn failure into an opportunity to try again–with more wisdom than before.
11. They don’t fear alone time.
Setting aside time to be alone with your thoughts every day can be a challenge in today’s fast-paced world. But reflecting on your progress and creating plans to create the kind of life you want to live is key to reaching your greatest potential.
12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything.
You’ll never find out how much you have to give if you’re too busy keeping track of what you think you should get. An entitled attitude will cause you to become a passenger, rather than the driver, in your own life.
13. They don’t expect immediate results.
Although technology gives us instant gratification in many ways, real change takes time. Expecting to reach your goals overnight will cause you to give up far too soon. Look at your goals as like a marathon, rather than a sprint.