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Have you ever met someone who never seems to have a bad day?
It’s not like they don’t have any problems (you could perhaps name a few issues they’re struggling with off the top of your head), they just don’t seem to let their problems get them down.
They have a way of taking everything in their stride. Nothing shakes them or their mood. With all the challenges they’re facing, they somehow stay positive and even manage to give other people an encouraging word.
Meanwhile, you’re still thinking about what your boss said to you last week, or battling high blood pressure from all the stress that you’re under, or struggling to get out of bed because you’re overwhelmed by all your problems.
How do these people do it? They’re facing the same challenges you are facing, maybe even more, but it doesn’t slow them down in the least.
Where do they get the strength from?
And we’re not talking about physical strength or stamina either; it’s their mental strength that really shines through and allows them to persevere in spite of their problems.
We all possess some level of mental strength. We’re not born either mentally strong or weak and condemned to remain that way for the rest of our lives. This also has nothing to do with our mental health.
Mental strength is like physical strength in that it is possible to improve our ability to regulate our emotions, manage our thoughts, and behave in a positive manner, regardless of our circumstances.
While some people are better able to develop mental strength than others, everyone can always improve, no matter what your current level is.
Just like with physical strength, increasing your mental strength requires regular exercise and a strict mental diet that restricts negative thoughts.
To develop our mental strength without falling into the pitfalls that plague most self-improvement fads, let’s look at what mentally strong people do on a regular basis. We’re bound to pick up some tricks and tips that we can easily apply to our own lives and mindsets.
1. They stay true to their values.
Mentally strong people know what their values are. As trivial as this seems, many of us aren’t clear about what is important to us. We know what should be important, as taught to us by society, but we’ve not sat down to state and define what our values are.
That is not the case with mentally strong people. They have done the introspective work and defined their values. Not only that, but they stay true to themselves by living a life that prioritizes those values.
If one of their values is family, they won’t take a job that takes them away from their family. If their value is their health, they ensure their schedule makes room for regular exercise.
2. They train their thoughts to be an asset.
Far too often, we allow thoughts to fly through our heads unheeded. Whether positive or negative, we seldom notice our thought processes and the impact they have on our moods.
People who have high mental strength train their thoughts to be an asset. Any thought that strays from the objective is brought under control without delay.
They are quite aware of the impact their thoughts have on their lives. As a result, they train their thoughts to assist them in reaching their goals. They quickly note negative thoughts and arrest them, not allowing them free access to their minds.
It’s not about just using positive thoughts to overcome or drown out the negative ones. Thinking positive thoughts alone seldom works. They use various tools and tricks to bring their thought processes under control. Tools such as journaling to track and pinpoint triggers, research to overcome fearful thoughts, and even therapy to combat obsessive thoughts that have blown out of control.
One thing is clear, however: they don’t allow their thoughts free rein.
3. They embrace change.
Change is a normal part of life. Those who are mentally strong recognize this and embrace change with an open mind. They prepare for change, knowing that it brings with it opportunities for growth and development.
Instead of fighting against all change, they methodically review the pros and cons of any imminent change, as well as the pros and cons of staying the same. By doing this, they use their rational thoughts to balance out their emotional state of mind to help them make the right decision. This also helps them to anticipate and mitigate any potential obstacles that would arise.
They also seek opportunities to change and improve themselves. They know they are a work in progress and are always looking for ways to get better.
But, they are careful not to make sweeping changes all at once. Instead, they focus on making one change at a time. This helps them to stay committed to and consistent with achieving their set goal.
4. They try and try again.
For mentally strong people, failure is not a dirty word. It’s an opportunity to learn how not to do something the next time, a chance to fix the mistakes you made before.
Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Most people would have given up after the first few failed attempts. But not Edison. His perseverance led to the invention of the light bulb. If he had given up like others would have, perhaps we’d all still be using lanterns to see when it gets dark.
Think about the opposition he would have faced. At that time, there was nothing like electricity. It must have sounded as far-fetched as living on the moon sounds to us now. Perhaps he was even viewed as the cooky neighborhood scientist, especially after 10,000 failures.
He didn’t allow the failed experiments to dissuade him, nor the likely mockery he faced from his contemporaries. Rather, he learned from his mistakes and kept working on a his invention until he achieved his aim.
Fear is often at the heart of our willingness to give up after a few attempts. We fear embarrassment or getting our hopes up or wasting money or a slew of different things. We may not even know what exactly we’re afraid of, we just know that we’re afraid.
Those with mental strength have built up a tenacity to keep trying in the face of fear and failure. They don’t assume that because they have failed, they are failures. Instead, they see each failure as a learning opportunity.
5. They focus on the future.
We have all done something we’re ashamed of in the past. All of us have skeletons in our closets.
But mentally strong people do not let their past define them and rob them of their future. They know that, as human beings, they are imperfect and mistakes are going to be made. Instead of dwelling on their past mistakes, they make peace with them and move on.
The past can’t be undone. So, they don’t let the past distract them from the present. They learn whatever applicable lesson(s), commit to doing better next time, and let it go. Determined never to repeat it.
6. They don’t run from challenges.
One trait mentally tough people all have in common is a thirst for knowledge. They use every opportunity available to them to learn. That’s why they don’t run from challenges. What better opportunity do you have to learn about what you’re made of than by facing down a challenge?
Though challenges are often stressful and expose your weaknesses, they also reveal strengths you may not have known you had.
People who are mentally strong face challenges head-on. They don’t run, hide, or avoid challenges. Because of their natural love of learning, they view challenges as opportunities for deeper knowledge and understanding.
7. They build relationships that challenge them to do/be better.
Does your support system spur you to be or do better? Do you have someone in your life that nudges you out of your comfort zone? If you look around you, are you surrounded by people who are exactly like yourself? Are your relationships just for social benefit?
Mentally strong people realize that they are the average of the five people they spend the most time with. So they nurture and build relationships that push them in areas where they want to develop. They are deliberate about the people they surround themselves with.
Yes, they may have drinking buddies and friends they gossip with, but their core relationships are based on more than mere alcohol, gossip, and other superficial commonalities.
8. They step out of their comfort zone, REGULARLY.
You know the fear that grips you when you near the edge of your comfort zone? That panic that creeps up the back of your spine when you dip your toes into the pool of the unfamiliar? Well, mentally strong people go through the same thing… sort of.
They make a habit of getting out of their comfort zone. In fact, they do it so often that they are uncomfortable when they’re comfortable. Many successful business people, especially those with strong mental capacities, are always on the lookout for new business ideas, pushing the envelope in their marketplace, stretching themselves and their team to accomplish “crazy” ideas.
They understand brilliant innovations are not created in comfort, but through adversity or because of a challenge. They have removed the words “can’t,” “won’t,” and “impossible” from their dictionaries.
9. They don’t throw pity parties.
You don’t have to tell someone who is mentally strong that throwing a pity party is an enormous waste of time, because they already know that. Just like they don’t waste time dwelling on the past, they don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
Let’s be honest, what has feeling sorry for yourself ever really achieved? It doesn’t make you feel better. Once you get the party started, you end up remembering more reasons why your situation is terrible. Sometimes, you even end up inviting some guests to join you. Misery loves company, as they say.
Mentally resilient people know that such parties resolve nothing. So, to get themselves out of their funk, they do things like volunteer for a worthy cause, perform a random act of kindness, get active, or practice gratitude by listing out the things in their life that are doing well.
You won’t catch them feeling sorry for themselves, much less inviting others to feel sorry for them too.
10. They don’t give away their power.
Being mentally strong is about being deliberate with what and who you’ll spend energy on. Mentally strong people do not give their power to issues that are not worth their time.
They forgive with ease and don’t hold grudges because they understand it takes more effort and energy to hate someone than it does to forgive and move on. Even if the offender does not try to make amends, a mentally strong person has forgiven them and focused on a more worthy cause.
They think before they react in a situation that makes them angry. They consider alternative possibilities to their interpretation of the circumstance before settling on anger. They freely give others the benefit of the doubt.
Realizing that giving away your power affects your self-confidence and focus, they guard their power diligently.
Consider all the time you spend thinking about and ruminating on the remark your Mother-in-law or boss or office nuisance made. That time could have been better spent doing something productive. Instead, you’re in a bad mood that is spilling over into other areas of your life.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that having mental strength means you’re never angry or at peace with everyone, every day. No, not at all.
Someone who has mental strength knows what their triggers are and has decided to be proactive by making conscious choices about how they’ll respond. They’ve prepared ahead so they don’t get caught up in the moment.
11. They aren’t afraid to say “no.”
Because mentally strong people are careful with how they use their power, they are not afraid to say the word “no” to activities that will drain them and waste their time. To them, “no” is a full sentence that does not require a reason or further explanation.
They are not ashamed to say “no,” nor will they apologize for saying it. They realize that every time they avoid saying “no” to something they don’t want to do, they are giving away their power.
So that favor someone is asking for, but you don’t want to do? “No.”
The personal loan a friend needs, that you know you will not get back? “No.”
Are you available to do God-knows-what, when all you want to do is chill with your family? “No chance.”
Society has conditioned us to say “yes” to everything in order to seem nice. Saying “no” has become a skill we have to learn. Mentally strong people have learned to say “No.”
So, when asked for a favor, before saying “yes,” they ask themselves the following questions:
- Is this something I want to do?
- What will I have to give up by doing this?
- What will I gain by doing this?
- How will I feel if I do it?
Their answers to these questions help them determine their response to the request.
12. They take calculated risks.
It’s not that mentally strong people jump into risky situations without a care in the world. It’s not that they are completely without fear. They have just learned to take calculated risks.
When making a risky decision or choosing to step out of their comfort zone, they look before they leap. They’ve considered all the likely outcomes, researched the risks involved, and put together plans to mitigate those risks.
They know that restricting the risks they take to only those that make them comfortable means they’re missing out on great opportunities. They understand that taking calculated risks means the difference between living a mediocre and an extraordinary life.
Since mentally strong people want to live an extraordinary life, when taking a calculated risk, they ask themselves some of the following questions:
- What is the potential cost of taking this risk? What is the potential cost of not taking this risk? This includes tangible (financial) and intangible (fear of failure) costs.
- What are the potential benefits for and against taking this risk?
- How will taking this step help in achieving the goal?
- What are the alternatives to taking this risk?
- How good will it be if the best-case scenario comes true?
- What is the worst thing that could happen and how can the risk of it occurring be reduced?
- How bad will it be if the worst-case scenario came true? The answer to this question may even include developing a disaster plan for how to respond if the worst-case scenario occurred.
- How much will this decision matter in five years? Will it matter at all?
13. They set healthy boundaries.
Mentally strong people are comfortable setting healthy boundaries because they know it gives them room to grow and to recuperate when required. They realize that setting clear boundaries is healthy for every relationship because they minimize conflict and help maintain a balance between you and the other person.
When both parties understand and respect each other’s boundaries, feelings aren’t hurt, and no one is taken for granted.
14. They learn from their mistakes.
As a human being, you are going to make mistakes frequently. We’re not perfect. We don’t know everything. It’s just natural that we’ll screw up sometimes. Possibly in a big way.
Mentally strong people don’t beat themselves up when they make a mistake. Instead, they study their mistake. Because they don’t want to keep repeating it, they take time to ask themselves the following questions:
- What went wrong?
- What could I have done better?
- What can I do differently next time?
Beating yourself up because you made a normal, human mistake won’t stop you from making it again in the future. Learning from it, however, will.
When you stop seeing your mistakes as something negative, you’ll be able to focus time and energy on not making the same mistakes again. In fact, mentally strong people are often willing to share their mistakes with other people to help prevent them from making the same ones.
15. They don’t let fear stop them.
We’re all afraid of something. There’s literally a fear of every possible thing you could imagine. Some people are afraid of rejection, others fear failure, still some are afraid of success. Everyone has something that causes them to break out in a cold sweat, lose their ability to speak coherently, and their pulse to race.
Fear isn’t all bad, though. Initially, it was designed to protect us from and alert us to danger. So when you’re about to do something new and you feel unease crawling up the back of your neck, or you’re walking down a lonely road and suddenly the hair on the backs of your arms stand up, that’s your fight-or-flight instincts kicking in, telling you to be on alert.
The only difference is that many of us have allowed this instinct to get out of control and grow into a monster that dictates the way we live our lives. Mentally strong people don’t let their fears stop them from pursuing their goals or living their life.
16. They take ownership of their lives.
Mentally strong people understand they are a total of everything that has happened in their lives, both the bad and the good. This may be why they don’t waste time living in regret about their past or their mistakes, because they realize that it all helped shape them into who they are today.
They don’t blame other people for the way their life has turned out. Rather, they take responsibility for their reaction or inaction in response to the poor treatment. For example, their parents may have abused them, but instead of using it as a reason to drop out of school, they use it as motivation to start a foundation to help children affected by abuse.
They also take full responsibility for how they spend their time and energy. Realizing they have limited resources, they decide to spend those resources on issues that they care about. This allows them to set clear boundaries and to say no, without apologies to anyone.
17. They aren’t worried about pleasing everybody.
You can’t please everybody, and mentally strong don’t even try. They may have 99 problems, but worrying about pleasing everyone is not one of them.
Struggling to make everyone happy is a waste of energy. Haven’t you ever noticed that the people you try to please end up not appreciating your effort or even taking you for granted? You run around trying to help everyone out, but have you ever wondered who’s running around trying to do the same for you? After everything, you end up tired, frustrated, and taken advantage of.
Mentally strong people would rather spend their limited time and energy on more worthwhile endeavors. While they aspire to treat everyone equally, with dignity and respect, they are perfectly okay with people being upset if they didn’t make them happy. Being everyone’s friend is not their goal in life.
18. They are their own best friend.
Mentally strong people have got their own back. You won’t catch them waiting for someone else to stick up for them or recognize them or give them their due. They treat themselves with the same love and care the rest of us reserve for those special to us.
Just think about how your day would go if you gave yourself the same consideration you give your best friend. Think about how confident you’d feel if you cheered yourself on the way you do with others. What if you encouraged yourself the way you encourage your best friend? Or refused to judge yourself so harshly for messing up?
At the very least, your mood would improve. This would positively impact your relationships, your performance at work, and your health by reducing your stress levels. With all of that going for you, it might even motivate you to set and accomplish more goals.
People with true mental toughness realize that by treating themselves like a valued human being, the resultant benefits are far-reaching.
19. They spend time alone.
Spending time alone with your thoughts gives you the opportunity to review the events of the day, plan your goals, and decompress.
Our schedules are often so packed that we’re moving from one activity to another automatically, without a chance to think or clear our heads. At night, when it’s time for bed, we struggle to go to sleep as thoughts race through our heads, almost as if our brain has been waiting for a chance to offload all the baggage it’s been carrying around all day.
Mentally strong people understand that quality downtime spent writing in a journal, using mindfulness techniques, or just reflecting is an essential part of their self-care. It’s a critical part of managing their mental well-being.
They are not afraid of silence or sitting with their thoughts. In fact, they enjoy being in their own company and are not dependent on the distraction of others for entertainment.
20. They define success for themselves.
People who are mentally strong have their own definition of success. Their definition of success is deeply personal to them and reflective of what they value in life. It’s what they focus on when facing challenges. And what they look at when running low on motivation.
They’ve looked at society’s definition of success, found it insufficient, and came up with their own. So when they’re working toward being successful, rather than the process being exhausting or negative, it’s energizing.
21. They focus on solutions.
When a crisis arises, mentally strong people aren’t busy trying to figure out who did what. They’re focused on finding the solution. It’s not that they don’t care who did what, they just know that playing the blame game will not resolve the problem at hand.
They focus on finding solutions. They’re the type of people who immediately go into trying to resolve a problem when one is presented to them. Even when they do finally get around to asking whodunnit and why, it’s to understand what happened and to ensure there are plans in place to avoid repeating the error or mistake.
Being mentally strong when everything is going well is easy. But it’s a different story when all hell breaks loose and your life is in utter chaos. By developing mental strength during the good times, you are better equipped to handle life’s surprise challenges.
Increasing mental strength leads to increased resilience to stress. Because you’re deliberate as to what and who you spend energy and time on, you have less stress.
This leads to…
Improved life satisfaction. As your mental health increases, your self-confidence increases. Life isn’t such a struggle because you’re living according to what you value.
This leads to peace of mind and…
Enhanced performance. Since you have less stress, greater life satisfaction, and living according to what is important to you, your performance is improved.
Essentially, increasing your mental strength will help you reach your full potential in life.
Want to become stronger mentally, but need a helping hand? Speak to a counselor today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced counselors on BetterHelp.com.
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