There’s a subtle distinction between being mentally strong and just appearing tough.
Mental strength isn’t about masking your feelings or adopting a ‘stiff upper lip’ approach. It’s more about understanding your emotions and learning to manage them effectively.
Being mentally strong is about making conscious choices that contribute to personal growth and happiness. And, interestingly, it’s often about what you deliberately choose not to do.
As someone who has navigated my fair share of life’s rollercoasters, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things mentally strong people avoid doing.
Here are nine of those things that can help you build mental resilience and lead a more fulfilling life.
1) Wasting energy on things they can’t control
Mental strength is about understanding where to invest your time and energy.
Most of us have a finite amount of mental energy each day. Mentally strong people grasp this concept and avoid spending it on issues or situations beyond their control.
It’s easy to worry about things we can’t change – the weather, traffic, other people’s opinions. But in reality, it’s a fruitless expenditure of mental energy.
Mentally strong individuals consciously choose to focus their energy on areas where they can make a real difference. They understand the importance of directing their attention towards actions that can improve their situation or solve problems effectively.
This isn’t about ignoring the world’s problems, but rather recognizing where we can actually contribute and make a difference. It’s about choosing your battles wisely.
If you want to cultivate mental strength, start by identifying areas in your life where you’re wasting energy on things you can’t control. Your mental resources are precious – use them wisely.
2) Dwelling on the past
I’ve learned the hard way that mentally strong individuals don’t get stuck dwelling on the past.
A few years back, I had a business venture that didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. For a while, I found myself constantly revisiting every decision, every twist and turn that led to the failure. It was like a movie playing on a loop in my mind.
But the more I dwelled on it, the less progress I made in the present. I was so caught up in what had happened that it was hindering my ability to move forward.
That’s when I realized that mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past. They learn from their mistakes, chalk it up as experience, and then they move on.
They understand that the past is just that – past. It can’t be changed or altered. What can be controlled is how they respond to it and what they choose to do in the present.
Take it from me – don’t dwell on your past. Learn from it, let it go, and focus on shaping your future.
3) Seeking approval from others
Did you know that the fear of rejection is deeply ingrained in our evolutionary history? In primitive times, being rejected by your tribe could mean death, so our brains are wired to seek approval.
But mentally strong people are aware of this, and they don’t let it control them. They understand that they can’t please everyone, and trying to do so is an exercise in futility.
While it’s natural to desire acceptance and validation from our peers, mentally strong individuals recognize that their worth isn’t defined by what others think of them. They understand that focusing too much on pleasing others can lead to a loss of self-identity and personal growth.
Instead of seeking approval from others, they focus on living in alignment with their own values and principles. They strive for self-approval, understanding that it’s the most important approval they can have.
4) Avoiding change
Change can be uncomfortable. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to adapt to new circumstances. But mentally strong people don’t avoid change – they embrace it.
They understand that change is a constant part of life and that resisting it only leads to stagnation. Instead of fearing change, they see it as an opportunity for growth and development.
Mentally strong individuals don’t just passively accept change, though. They actively seek out opportunities to change, grow, and improve. They know that by challenging themselves and changing their circumstances, they can continue to evolve and become even stronger.
If you want to develop mental strength, don’t shy away from change. Seek it out and embrace it as a chance to grow.
5) Fear of taking calculated risks
Mentally strong people understand that risk is an inherent part of life. Whether it’s starting a new job, moving to a different city, or trying a new hobby, every new experience carries some degree of risk.
The key here is the term “calculated risks.” These individuals don’t make reckless decisions. Instead, they weigh the potential benefits against the potential drawbacks and make informed choices.
They recognize that taking calculated risks can lead to greater rewards. Even when things don’t work out as planned, they see it as a learning experience rather than a failure.
Don’t let fear hold you back. Embrace the idea of taking calculated risks and see where it can lead you. The potential for growth and development is massive.
6) Neglecting self-care
In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to put our own needs on the back burner. We rush from one task to the next, sometimes forgetting to take care of ourselves in the process. But mentally strong people understand the importance of self-care.
They recognize that they can’t pour from an empty cup. They can’t be their best selves or effectively tackle life’s challenges if they’re running on empty.
Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and spa days. It’s about making time for physical exercise, eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and taking mental breaks when needed. It’s about saying “no” when you’re overextended and prioritizing your well-being.
Caring for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. And mentally strong people not only realize this but they practice it consistently. It’s a key component of their strength and resilience.
7) Giving up after failure
I’ve always been a dreamer – filled with ideas and aspirations. But one thing I’ve learned is that dreams don’t always go as planned. There’s often a roadblock, a setback, or even a complete failure.
A few years ago, I launched a project I was incredibly passionate about. Despite my best efforts, it fell flat. It felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
It would have been easy to wallow in self-pity and give up. But instead, I picked myself up and tried again. And guess what? The second time around, it was a success.
Mentally strong people don’t give up after failure. They understand that failure is not the opposite of success, but a part of it. Instead of allowing failure to define them, they use it as a stepping stone towards success.
They dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and keep going. Because they know that the path to success is paved with failures. So embrace failure – it might just be leading you to your greatest success yet.
8) Feeling the world owes them something
Life isn’t always fair. Opportunities don’t always present themselves equally, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, things just don’t work out the way we want them to.
However, mentally strong individuals don’t waste time feeling that the world owes them something. They don’t dwell on what they believe they deserve but rather focus on what they can create.
They understand that entitlement leads nowhere. Instead of waiting for opportunities to fall into their lap, they go out and create them. They take responsibility for their lives and their actions.
The world doesn’t owe us anything. It’s up to us to make the most of what we have and strive for what we want. This proactive mindset is a key trait of mentally strong individuals.
9) Neglecting personal growth
Mentally strong people never stop learning. They understand that personal growth is a lifelong journey, not a destination.
They continuously seek opportunities to improve themselves, learn new skills, challenge their beliefs, and expand their horizons. They’re not afraid to question their own assumptions or admit when they’re wrong.
Personal growth is about becoming the best version of yourself. And for mentally strong individuals, it’s a non-negotiable part of life.
So whether it’s picking up a new book, learning a new skill, or simply taking time for self-reflection, never stop striving for personal growth. It’s the cornerstone of mental strength.
Final thought: It’s a journey
At the heart of mental strength lies a profound understanding of ourselves and our ability to navigate life’s ups and downs.
Research from the field of positive psychology highlights that when we cultivate mental strength, we’re better equipped to handle stress, overcome challenges, and lead fulfilling lives.
But remember, developing mental strength isn’t an overnight task. It’s a continuous journey that involves self-awareness, persistence, and a commitment to personal growth.
Whether it’s avoiding unnecessary energy drains, embracing change, or not fearing failure, each step you take towards these habits is a stride towards becoming mentally stronger.
So as you go about your day, reflect on these points. Identify areas where you can start to apply these habits and remember – the journey to mental strength is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about progress, not perfection. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself. Keep going.