Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. As I recently Iistened to Amy, I wondered, “what does mentally strong mean?” What does a person who is mentally strong look like?
Am I mentally strong? Do I struggle mentally? I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all struggle mentally. So, a mentally strong person is certainly not a person who never struggles. Every day we all have some type of mental or emotional battle.
Then there are times when we are really tested. I’m talking major events that cause tremendous emotional and mental strain in our lives. The loss of a job, friend, or loved one, financial problems, and marriage struggles are just a few things that put tremendous pressure on our mental health. I counsel with people who live year after year in deep mental and emotional pain from something that happened many years ago. Then there are others who seem to bounce back from very painful life experiences and become mentally stronger.
What do these people do or not do that breeds such mental and emotional resilience? Amy records thirteen things that she has observed in her years of counseling that mentally strong people don’t do to remain mentally and emotionally strong. As I read through this list, it confirmed in my own mind the things I have observed as well. Here they are.
1. MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE DON’T WASTE TIME FEELING SORRY FOR THEMSELVES.
As soon as the “poor me” attitude strikes our minds, put it out. Your circumstances may or may not be your fault, but laying blame is not part of the solution. Take responsibility and take action. Too many of us are trying to make life fair, and it is not. Move on.
2. THEY DON’T GIVE AWAY THEIR POWER.
I often hear people say things like, “well, she just makes me so mad, therefore I had to go drink.” My response is, “when did you give control of your life over to that person?” They usually look at me puzzled as they ponder my question. Stop handing over power to other people in your own life because they hurt you emotionally. We must take ownership of our emotions. When we don’t then we give other people power over our lives.
3. THEY DON’T SHY AWAY FROM CHANGE.
The number one reason people leave a job is due to change. Most of us don’t like change. Yet change is where we grow, learn new things, get better, and meet new people. Welcome change, learn to adapt to it and embrace something new.
4. THEY DON’T WASTE ENERGY ON THINGS THEY CAN’T CONTROL.
When we focus on things that we can’t control that’s when we begin complaining and anxiety sets in. Prayer is a powerful way to cope with the things we cannot change. We learn patience when confronted by the things we cannot control. Mentally strong people don’t complain. They practice patience and prayer.
5. THEY DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE.
Mentally strong people are not afraid to say no. They are not afraid to confront others when needed (in love and kindness). They are more concerned with character, integrity, and doing the right thing, even if it means others won’t like them.
6. THEY DON’T FEAR TAKING CALCULATED RISKS.
I have never been a huge risk taker, but I do take risks. I try to think them through, get advice, and pray. There is no success in life without some risks. A person who takes no risks in life, will live a dull and unfulfilled life. Walking by faith takes requires some risk taking.
7. THEY DON’T DWELL ON THE PAST.
Many people I counsel constantly dwell on the past. The past in a great teacher, but a horrible master, yet many are mastered and ruled by past mistakes or past successes. Your best days are not behind you and your worst days should not define you. Look forward.
8. THEY DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER.
We all make mistakes, bad decisions, and say the wrong things. All of us have hurt others, disappointed those we love and fallen short on promises. But mentally strong people pick up the pieces and learn from these mistakes and make the appropriate changes.
9. THEY DON’T RESENT OTHER PEOPLE’S SUCCESS.
Rejoice when others are succeeding, and you are not. Encourage those who are better than you. A key to our success is humility. If we can’t humble ourselves and lift others up who we might not want to lift up, then our own success is still far off.
10. THEY DON’T GIVE UP AFTER THE FIRST FAILURE.
Mentally strong people see failure as their greatest teacher and friend. Failure can propel us forward or backwards. It just depends on how you see it and apply it. Every successful person first failed multiple times.
11. THEY DON’T FEAR ALONE TIME.
We are not talking about time alone with the T.V. or computer or binge watching some program. Alone time is quiet time. A time when you are left to your own thoughts. A time to reflect, examine your life, and do some serious soul searching. The unexamined life is not worth living.
12. THEY DON’T FEEL THE WORLD OWES THEM ANYTHING.
Mentally strong people don’t live with a sense of entitlement. They seek to help others, not drain them. They look for opportunities not handouts. If there’s not a way forward, they keep pressing anyway until the right door opens. This world owes us nothing.
13. THEY DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE RESULTS.
Mentally strong people understand that success takes time. The right results don’t come quickly. If you’ve ever planted a tree, you know that the shade from it doesn’t come for years. Many people live a life of discouragement and defeat because of false expectations that things will change in a small amount of time.
So, how are you doing? Which of these thirteen things are you doing that is weakening your mental and emotional state. Recognize them. Be honest with yourself and then take action.