By recognizing in our own behavior what keeps us from being resilient against life’s obstacles, we’re empowered to stop the cycle and focus on what it takes to become mentally stronger.
“Every time you take your eyes off of your own goals and you start resenting somebody else, it’s another minute that you didn’t spend working towards whatever it is you want to achieve.” -Amy Morin
The Cheat Sheet:
- How do mental health and mental strength differ? (08:37)
- Being mentally strong is more about self-awareness than acting tough. (09:54)
- There are three parts to building mental strength: regulating thoughts, managing emotions, and behaving productively despite your circumstances. (11:41)
- What wastes our time and energy to keep us from becoming mentally strong? (13:03)
- You’re only as good as your worst habit. (13:29)
- And so much more…
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, college psychology instructor, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.
In episode 449 of The Art of Charm, we talk to Amy about her interest in resilience and how losing her mother, her 26-year-old husband, and her father-in-law in a short period of time set her on a course to discover the secrets to mental strength.
More About This Show
Studies consistently show that we’re stressed out more than ever. In an attempt to remedy that stress, many people try to build more good habits into their already busy lives. But that’s the wrong approach — adding more good habits just adds more stress. Rather than working harder, we can work smarter by getting rid of the bad habits that counteract our good habits.
We spend so much time talking about physical health and physical strength — and very little time talking about mental strength. In fact, most people don’t even know what mental strength is. But it’s the key to overcoming adversity and to reaching our greatest potential.
Unfortunately, at some point we’re going to reach a time in our lives where we need all the mental strength we can muster. Loss of a loved one, illness, financial problems, etc. can completely derail you if you’re not mentally strong.
Psychotherapist Amy Morin has always had an interest in the qualities of mental resilience, but she was truly tested when she lost her mother, her 26-year-old husband, and her father-in-law in a very short period of time. To compound her grief, this chain of tragedies occurred just as she was launching her career as a therapist.
“I was trying to figure out how [I could] go to work and help other people deal with their problems,” says Amy, “when [I was] still grieving, myself.”
As a way to cope, she composed a list of the bad habits and behaviors she identified as being antithetical to mental strength, which eventually became the outline for her book, 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.
“I thought, ‘Why? Why do I have to lose everybody? I don’t want to go through this again,'” says Amy. “I was having all those sorts of thoughts, but I knew that I couldn’t think that way because that’s not helpful. I knew if I wanted to be as strong as I knew I was going to need to be while I went through this, I had to get rid of those little habits again. It was then that I sat down and I wrote this list of the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do. And I thought, ‘You know, it’s helpful for me; I’ll put it on the Web. Maybe it will help somebody else.’ I never imagined it would go viral or be read by millions of people.”
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
For the record, here’s the short version of the list that the book is built upon.
- They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
- They don’t give away their power.
- They don’t shy away from change.
- They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control.
- They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
- They don’t fear taking calculated risks.
- They don’t dwell on the past.
- They don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
- They don’t resent other people’s success.
- They don’t give up after the first failure.
- They don’t fear alone time.
- They don’t feel the world owes them anything.
- They don’t expect immediate results.
Do any of these bad habits look familiar? If so, don’t feel bad — we all fall under their sway from time to time. But being aware of them is the first step toward breaking them.
Three Practical Exercises for Building Mental Strength
Aside from making a conscious effort to avoid the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do, Amy recommends these three practical exercises for building your mental strength.
Change your everyday language. Pay attention to times when you say things like, “My mother-in-law drives me crazy,” or “My boss makes me work late.” No one else has the power to control how you think, feel, or behave. Recognize that there may be consequences if you don’t work late, but it’s your choice. And it’s up to you how you respond to your mother-in-law. Changing your language reminds you that you’re in control of your life.
Spend 10 minutes a day alone with your thoughts. Most of our days are filled with background noise and activity. But if you don’t sit and think about your goals in silence, you won’t know if you’re on the right track. Carve out just 10 minutes of your day to set aside the distractions of technology and simply think about your goals and areas where you want to create change.
Write down your definition of success. Most people aren’t sure what they want in life. As a result, they become easily distracted and they grow envious of other people. Writing down your own definition keeps your focus on your own goals and increases your productivity.
THANKS, AMY MORIN!
Resources from this episode:
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
The Art of Charm bootcamps
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