13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

by Amy Morin

Mental strength is not a trait that some people have, and others don't. Rather, it is something that can be honed and enhanced by regulating one's emotions, managing one's thoughts, and engaging in positive behaviors. In 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, you will discover all the tools to cultivate mental strength and experience greater happiness and fulfillment in life.

Summary Notes

Exchange Self-Pity for Gratitude

Self-pity can be a destructive emotion that exacerbates a person's negative feelings beyond what is warranted. When we let self-pity take over, it can make us feel like we're the only ones dealing with problems, or that our issues are worse than anyone else's. It can lead us to withdraw from activities and social engagements, and we may start to complain about things not being fair. We might also struggle to find anything to be grateful for, and may even start to compare our lives to others who we think have it easier.

There are many inspiring examples of individuals who refused to succumb to self-pity, despite facing tremendous adversity. Marla Runyan, for instance, was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease at a young age, but instead of viewing it as a disability, she considered it as a gift that pushed him to achieve her dreams. As a legally blind athlete, she won multiple gold and silver medals in the Paralympics, Pan American Games, and the Olympics. In 2000, she even became the first American to cross the finish line in the 1,500-meter race!

Another inspiring example is Jeremiah Denton, a U.S. naval aviator who was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. Even though he was subjected to some of the worst conditions imaginable, he didn't waste time feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he kept his composure and focused on doing whatever he could to manage the situation. When he was eventually released, he chose to feel grateful that he was able to serve his country, rather than pity himself for the time he had lost.

These examples simply demonstrate that refusing to wallow in self-pity can help us overcome even the most difficult obstacles. It will also help us to be more grateful and appreciative of life, making us feel happier and more fulfilled.

Actions to take

Retain Personal Power to Become Mentally Strong

If you're in a situation like Lauren's, dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law or any other person who tries to control your life and relationships, you likely understand how frustrating and challenging it can be. In Lauren's case, her mother-in-law Jackie, was visiting several times a week, trying to undermine her authority with the kids and generally making her feel angry and powerless.

At first, Lauren tried to keep her cool, responding politely even though she was seething inside. But eventually, Jackie's comments pushed her over the edge, and she realized she needed to take action to protect her marriage. So she sought counseling to learn anger management skills, and then she worked with her husband to establish healthy boundaries with Jackie.

It's not easy to retain your power and stay mentally strong when other people are trying to control you. Sometimes we get hurt by criticism, lash out in anger, or change our goals just to please someone else. We may even spend a lot of time complaining and avoiding uncomfortable emotions. But to truly take charge of our lives, we need to be confident in our own choices and priorities, even when it's hard. That's the key to keeping our power and staying in control, no matter what life throws our way.

Actions to take

Implement the Necessary Changes for Growth

Change is necessary for growth, but it is sometimes difficult to make it happen. This is because our thoughts and emotions may usually get in the way, and even when we know a change will benefit us, we may struggle to take action. Sometimes, we come up with justifications for our bad habits, worry about disrupting our routines, or fear that any change might make things worse.

What's more, we may even find ourselves constantly thinking about making changes but never actually doing anything different. Or when we do, we sometimes lack the motivation to implement those changes. Too often, we fill ourselves with excuses for why we can't change.

Along the way, fear and discomfort can hold us back from making progress. We might feel a sense of loss when leaving something familiar behind. That's why it's so important to approach change with an open mind and commit to behaving like the person we want to become. That way, we can achieve successful change and grow into the best version of ourselves.

Actions to take

Focus on What You Can Control

It can be tempting to want to be in control of everything in our lives, but it can actually cause more harm than good. People who try to control everything tend to spend a lot of time and energy trying to prevent bad things from happening, wishing others would change, and finding it hard to trust others with tasks because they don't think they'll do them correctly. They also struggle with teamwork because they don't have faith in their teammates' abilities.

In psychology, this inclination towards control is referred to as one's "locus of control." People with an external locus of control believe that their fate is determined by factors outside of their control, such as luck or destiny. Conversely, those with an internal locus of control believe they possess complete control over their future.

To strike a balance, it's important to understand what is and is not within our control and to focus on managing our anxiety instead of trying to control everything. By recognizing that there are some things we can't change, we can focus on the things we can control. This helps us manage our anxiety and achieve greater success in our lives.

Actions to take

Avoid Pleasing People

Are you someone who used to try to please everyone? If so, you probably know how it feels to be constantly on edge, always worried about what others will think or feel.

The act of people-pleasing often involves trying to manipulate other people's emotions to one's liking. There are some signs that may help you identify whether you're a people-pleaser, such as:

  • You always feel responsible for how others feel;
  • You feel uncomfortable when someone is mad at you;
  • You're being a pushover;
  • You keep on apologizing even when you don't think you did anything wrong;
  • You keep on going to great lengths to avoid conflict;
  • You don't usually tell people when your feelings are hurt;
  • You say "yes" to favors even when you don't want to;
  • You keep changing your behavior based on what you think other people want;
  • You put a lot of energy into trying to impress people;
  • You feel responsible if people don’t seem to be enjoying themselves;
  • You keep seeking praise and approval from people in your life and;
  • You never want anyone to think you are selfish.

When you stop worrying about pleasing everyone and start living according to your own values, things start to change for the better. You'll become more confident in yourself, have more time and energy to devote to your goals, and feel less stressed overall. You'll also be able to form more authentic and healthier relationships with the people around you. Most importantly, by letting go of your people-pleasing habit, you'll be able to reach your full potential.

Actions to take

Take Calculated Risks

Fear often prevents people from taking risks that could help them achieve their full potential. Some signs of risk aversion may include difficulty making significant decisions, daydreaming without taking action, making hasty decisions due to anxiety, allowing others to make decisions, or basing decisions on fear.

It's important to pay attention to how you feel about taking risks and make sure that you're making decisions based on facts and not just your emotions. It's easy to get caught up in alarming statistics and research studies, but sometimes, they can be misleading. Take cleaning products, for example. They're marketed as these super-powerful solutions that kill germs, but did you know that eliminating too many germs can weaken our immune systems?

One way to overcome your fear of taking risks is to challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs. A famous psychologist named Albert Ellis used this technique to help people conquer their fears. When he was younger, he was incredibly shy and scared to talk to women. But he faced his fears head-on by going to a botanical garden every day for a month and starting a conversation with any woman sitting alone on a bench within a minute. While only one woman said yes out of the 100, he asked out, the most important thing is that he learned that he could handle rejection and take risks.

Aside from this, there are many more stories of people who have taken risks and achieved tremendous success. Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, a UK-based conglomerate worth around $5 billion, is the perfect example of this. Even though he struggled with dyslexia as a kid, he didn't let that hold him back. Instead, he started businesses at a young age and never stopped challenging himself and his employees. Branson believes in making strategic decisions rather than just taking blind gambles.

Actions to take

Come to Terms With Your Past

Gloria, a fifty-five-year-old woman, was experiencing extreme stress because her twenty-eight-year-old daughter had moved back in with her. She had not been a good mother in the past, and this made her feel guilty and ashamed of her past mistakes. Because of this guilt, she found herself enabling her daughter's immature behavior and worrying about her future.

Fortunately, with the help of counseling, she learned to forgive herself and let go of her past mistakes. She established rules and boundaries for her daughter, who eventually found a job and began to discuss her future aspirations.

Dwelling on the past can lead to significant regrets, feelings of shame, and self-punishment. This can also result in reliving past memories in your mind and imagining different outcomes. To move forward and do what is best for yourself and others, it is necessary to forgive yourself and focus on the present.

Our memories are not as reliable as we believe them to be. When we recall unpleasant events, we often exaggerate and catastrophize them. To keep our experiences in perspective, it is important to focus on the lessons learned, think about the facts rather than our emotions, and look at the situation differently.

Remember that refusing to dwell on the past doesn’t mean you have to pretend it didn’t happen. Instead, it means embracing and accepting your experiences so you can live in the present. If you're constantly looking back, you're going to miss out on all the great things that are happening right in front of you. In the end, it might prevent you from enjoying both the present and the future.

Actions to take

Break the Cycle of Repeating Mistakes

Making mistakes is something that happens to everyone, and it's totally normal. But what's important is that we don't keep making the same mistakes over and over again. To break this cycle, we need to change our approach and invest time in finding new solutions, figuring out why we're not meeting our goals, and learning new ways of doing things.

Sometimes, we repeat our mistakes because of things like pride, stubbornness, impulsivity, or simply because it's comfortable. But if we want to avoid repeating our mistakes, we need to take the time to study them, put aside our negative feelings, and learn from them. By viewing mistakes as an opportunity to improve and grow, we can break the cycle of repeating them.

Actions to take

Let go of Resentment

Dan was a friendly, outgoing man who seemed to have it all together. He had a nice house and a good job. However, he was struggling with a secret: he was deeply in debt and was hiding it from his wife. He felt the need to keep up with the neighbors and their successes, and this was causing him to resent them.

Resentment of others’ success is a feeling of wanting what someone else has and not wanting them to have it. It can be rooted in insecurities and inaccurate views of other people, and it can lead to a vicious cycle that may negatively affect your mood and relationships. To avoid this, you need to shift your focus toward your own goals and values rather than trying to compete with everyone else.

Actions to take

Embrace Failures

Failure is part of the process of success. If you're someone who tries to avoid failure at all costs, you might also be missing out on your chance to achieve great things.

When you fail at something, it can help build your character and teach you important lessons. It can show you where you need to improve and help you discover hidden strengths you never knew you had. And the more you learn to persevere through failure, the stronger you become.

Remember, just because you fail at something doesn't mean that you're a failure; it just means that you haven't succeeded yet. Every successful person has experienced failure along the way, but what sets them apart is their willingness to keep trying, learn from their mistakes, and rise above failures.

Actions to take

Spend Time Alone

Many people have a fear of solitude and avoid spending time alone. They think it's boring and uncomfortable, and it makes them feel lonely. But taking time away from the busyness of daily life to focus on our personal growth is essential for mental strength.

Sometimes people get being alone and feeling lonely mixed up, but they're not the same thing. Feeling lonely is when you believe nobody is there for you, while being alone is when you choose to spend time with your thoughts. When we slow down and pay attention to the signs our body gives us when we're stressed, we can reduce negative emotions and gain a new perspective on tough situations.

Meditation is one great way to do this. In fact, it has been shown to offer a lot of benefits, such as helping reduce anxiety and depression. It can even help with serious conditions like asthma, cancer, sleep problems, pain, and heart disease.

Actions to take

Let Go of Your Sense of Entitlement

It's natural to want fairness in life, but it's unhealthy to believe that you're entitled to something just because of your identity or experiences. People who think they're smarter, more deserving of happiness, or entitled to success without working hard are more likely to have a sense of entitlement.

It is important to practice humility rather than feeling entitled. This will allow you to concentrate on your work and handle criticism with grace. It also helps you recognize your own flaws and weaknesses, as well as empathize with the feelings of others.

Actions to take

Be Patient Throughout the Journey

We live in a world that moves at a rapid pace, yet we cannot always have everything we want instantly. It's easy to fall into the trap of expecting immediate results, but this approach can set us up for failure. Instead, we must learn to be patient and remain committed to our goals, even if we don't see results as quickly as we would like. After all, success doesn't happen overnight. Did you know that Twitter's founder worked on mobile and social products for eight years before creating the platform we know today? And Amazon wasn't profitable for seven years!

Unfortunately, a lot of us struggle with patience. We also tend to overestimate our abilities and underestimate the time it takes to make real change happen. To develop a more realistic outlook, it's important to acknowledge that change is challenging and avoid setting strict timelines for achieving our goals.

Actions to take

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