“13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”: Book Summary

1 Line Summary

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” by Amy Morin is a guide to building mental strength by avoiding 13 common negative habits. It stresses the significance of managing thoughts, emotions and behaviors in ways which set one up for the success in life.

What Will You Learn

You’ll discover how to:

  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself and take responsibility for your life.
  • Embrace change and face your fears head-on.
  • Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.
  • Stop worrying about pleasing everyone and learn to say no.
  • Learn from your failures and keep moving forward.
  • Embrace alone time and enjoy your own company.
  • Stop expecting the world to owe you something and start taking action.

Best Quotations from the Book

  • Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
  • When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.
  • It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t . . . It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.
  • You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
  • Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
  • Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
  • We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.
  • The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
  • Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
  • Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.
  • Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
  • Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.

Book Summary

What is Mental Strength

Developing mental strength is about improving your ability to regulate emotions, manage thoughts and behave in a positive manner.

There are several factors to determine the extent of developing mental strength:

Genetics—Genes play a role in whether or not you may develop mental health issues, such as mood disorders.

Personality—Some people have personality traits which help them think more realistically and behave positively by nature.

Experiences—Life experiences influence the way you think about yourself, other people and the world in general.

Anyone has the power to increase mental strength by devoting time and energy on the self improvement.

How to Develop Mental Strength

Developing mental strength requires a three-pronged approach:

1. Thoughts—Identifying irrational thoughts and replacing them with more realistic ones.

2. Behaviors—Behaving in a positive manner despite the circumstances.

3. Emotions—Controlling emotions so that the emotions can’t control you.

Here are some of the truths about mental strength:

  • Being mentally strong isn’t about acting tough. Instead, it’s about acting according to the values.
  • Mental strength doesn’t require you to ignore emotions. It’s about interpreting and understanding how the emotions influence thoughts and behavior.
  • Being mentally strong doesn’t mean to be completely self reliant. Admitting faults, asking for help when needed and acknowledging that you can gain strength from a higher power is a sign of a desire to grow stronger.
  • Mental strength is about thinking realistically and rationally.
  • Developing mental strength is about making decisions to help you reach full potential.
  • You can be mentally strong even if you have depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems.

Here is a list of 13 Things which Mentally Strong People Do:

1. They don’t Waste Time in Feeling Sorry for Themselves

  • People often use self-pity as a way to gain attention. Playing the “poor me” card may result in some kind and gentle words from others.
  • Self-pity can be an indirect way of gaining help.
  • As long as you feel sorry for yourself, you can delay any circumstances that will bring you face-to-face with real fears, and you can avoid taking responsibility for your actions.
  • We all experience pain and sorrow in life but residing in the sorrows and misfortune is self-destructive.
  • Self-pity can consume you until it eventually changes your thoughts and behaviors. But you can choose to take control. Even when you can’t alter your circumstances, you can alter your attitude.

The Problem with Self Pity

Feeling sorry for yourself is self-destructive.

Indulging in self-pity hinders living a satisfied life in the following ways:

  • Feeling sorry for yourself requires a lot of mental energy and does nothing to change the situation.
  • It leads to more negative emotions like anger, resentment, loneliness, and other feelings which fuel further negative thoughts.
  • By feeling sorry for yourself, you can’t perform at your best.
  • It can stop your progress from moving forward because self-pity keeps the focus on why things rather than accepting the situation for what it is.
  • It causes you to overlook the good in life.

How to Exchange Self Pity with Gratitude

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down at least one thing you’re grateful for, each day.
  • If you can’t keep up with writing, make it a habit to say what you’re grateful for.
  • When you notice that you’re starting to feel sorry for yourself, shift your focus.
  • Ask others what they’re grateful for. Strike up conversations about gratitude to help you discover what other people feel thankful for.
  • If you’re a parent, teaching your children to be grateful for what they have is one of the best ways to keep your own attitude in check.

2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power

Giving other people the power to control how you think, feel, and behave makes it impossible to be mentally strong.

Anytime you don’t set healthy emotional and physical boundaries for yourself, you risk giving away your power to other people.

Each time you avoid saying no to something you really don’t want, you give away your power.

If you don’t like the way someone treats you, yet you don’t stand up for yourself, you give that person power over your life.

The Problem with Giving Away Power

There are many problems with giving away your power. You:

  • Depend on others to regulate your feelings,
  • Let other people define your self-worth. If you give others the power to determine your self-worth, you’ll never feel worthy enough,
  • Avoid addressing the real problem. Giving away your power lends itself to helplessness,
  • Become a victim of your circumstances. You’ll become a passenger in your own life rather than a driver.
  • Go highly sensitive to criticism. You’ll lack the ability to evaluate criticism.
  • Lose sight of your goals. You won’t be able to build the kind of life you want.
  • Ruin relationships. If you don’t speak up when people hurt your feelings, you’ll likely grow resentful toward them.

How to Stay Calm

Here are some strategies to help you stay calm when you’re tempted to react negatively:

  • Take deep breaths. Frustration and anger cause physical reactions within the body.
  • Excuse yourself from the situation. The more emotional you feel, the less rational you’ll think.
  • Distract yourself. Don’t try solving a problem or addressing an issue with someone when you’re feeling overly emotional.

3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change

Although it’s often easy to say you want to change, successfully making a change is hard. Many people shy away from making changes that can drastically improve their lives.

Many people shy away from change because they think that doing something different is too risky or uncomfortable. Even changing one small habit, like deciding you’ll floss your teeth every day or giving up your bedtime snack, requires a certain level of commitment.

The Five Stages of Change

  • Precontemplation—When people are precontemplative, they don’t yet identify any need to change.
  • Contemplation—People who are actively contemplative are considering the pros and cons of making a change.
  • Preparation—This is the stage where people prepare to make a change. They establish a plan with concrete steps that identify what they are going to do differently.
  • Action—This is where the concrete behavioral change takes place.
  • Maintenance—This often overlooked step is essential.  It refers, maintaining lifestyle changes when faced with obstacles, like holidays or vacations.

How to Create a Successful Plan for Change

  • Create a goal for what you would like to accomplish.
  • Establish concrete behavior changes you can make to reach that goal.
  • Anticipate obstacles along the way. Make a plan for how you will respond to specific challenges.
  • Establish accountability. Be accountable to yourself by writing down your progress daily.
  • Monitor your progress. Determine how you’ll keep track of your progress.

4. They Don’t Focus on Things they Can’t Control

Trying to control everything usually starts out as a way to manage anxiety. The desire to fix everything can also stem from a sort of superhero complex.

Deciding what is within your control and what isn’t depends largely upon your belief system.

Your locus of control will determine how you view your circumstances. People with an internal locus of control believe they have complete control over their future. They take full responsibility for their successes and failures in life.

What Happens When You Stop Controlling Everything

When you stop trying to control every aspect of your life, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to things you can control. Here are some of the benefits you’ll experience:

  • Increased happiness—The maximum level of happiness is achieved when people have a balanced locus of control.
  • Better relationships—When you give up your need for control, you’ll likely experience better relationships.
  • Less stress—When you stop carrying around the weight of the world, you’ll feel less stressed. You may experience more short-term anxiety as you give up control, but over the long term, you’ll have a lot less stress and anxiety.
  • New opportunities—When you have a strong need to control things, you’ll be less likely to invite change into your life.
  • More success—Although most people who want to control everything have a deep desire to be successful, having an internal locus of control can actually interfere with your chances of success.

5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

People pleasing is about trying to control how other people feel.

If you want to be successful at reaching your goals, you need to define your path, not just do what other people want you to do.

Negative Aspects of People Pleasing

Remember these truths about people pleasing:

  • People pleasing is a waste of time. You can’t control how other people feel.
  • People pleasers are easily manipulated.
  • There is no reason that people need to feel happy or pleased all the time. Everyone has the ability to cope with a wide array of feelings, and it’s not your job to prevent them from feeling negative emotions.
  • You can’t please everyone. It’s impossible for everyone to be delighted by the same things.

Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes

  • 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?

What To Do

  • Identifying your values and behaving according to them.
  • Being aware of your emotions before deciding whether to say yes to someone’s request .
  • Saying no when you don’t want to do something .
  • Practicing tolerating uncomfortable emotions associated with conflict and confrontation.
  • Behaving assertively even when speaking up may not be well received.

6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks

We face many risks in our lives—financial, physical, emotional, social, and business risks to name a few, but often people avoid taking the risks that could help them reach their full potential because they’re afraid.

A lack of knowledge about how to calculate risk leads to increased fear.

To calculate risk, we must predict the probability that the outcome of our behavior will result in either positive or negative consequences and then measure how big of an impact those consequences will have.

Your thoughts about the risk will influence the way you feel, and ultimately, sway your behavior.

It’s important to be aware of your emotions throughout the decision-making process.

Many of our major life decisions are based on complete irrationality

  • We incorrectly judge how much control we have over a situation. We’re usually more willing to take bigger risks when we think we have more control.
  • We overcompensate when safeguards are in place. We behave more recklessly when we think there are safety nets in place.
  • We don’t recognize the difference between skill and chance.
  • We are influenced by our superstitious beliefs.
  • We become easily deluded when we see a potentially large payoff.
  • We grow comfortable with familiarity.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you calculate your risk level

  • What are the potential costs?
  • What are the potential benefits?
  • How will this help me achieve my goal?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen and how could I reduce the risk it will occur?
  • How much will this decision matter in five years?

7. They Don’t Dwell in the Past

Here are some of the ways that dwelling on the past can interfere with your ability to be your best self:

  • You miss out on the present.
  • Dwelling on the past makes it impossible to adequately prepare for the future.
  • It interferes with your decision-making skills and lead to depression.

When you recall negative memories, try these strategies to keep your experiences in perspective:

  • Focus on the lessons you learned.
  • Think about the facts, not the emotion.
  • Look at the situation differently. When you review your past, examine what other ways there are to look at the same situation.

8. They Don’t Repeat Same Mistakes Again and Again

Although we’d like to think we learn from our mistakes the first time around, the truth is, everyone repeats mistakes sometimes.

Repeating the same mistakes leads to many problems, such as the following:

  • You won’t reach your goals.
  • The problem won’t get solved. When you repeat a mistake, the problem perpetuates and you’re more likely to just keep doing the same thing.
  • You may not try as hard.
  • You may develop irrational beliefs to excuse your mistakes.

Look for an explanation without making an excuse. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What can I do differently next time?

How to Avoid Repeating Same Mistakes Again and Again

Follow these steps to create a written plan that will help you avoid repeating your mistakes:

  • Establish behavior that will replace previous behavior.
  • Identify warning signs that you’re headed down the wrong path again.
  • Find a way to hold yourself accountable.

9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success

Resentment usually remains hidden, and people mask their true feelings with artificial kindness. Resentment of others’ success is also a result of deep-rooted insecurities. When you’re insecure, someone else’s success will seem to magnify your shortcomings.

Why to Avoid Resentment

Here are some of the problems resentment can cause:

  • You’ll stop focusing on your own path to success, never be content with what you have and overlook your skills and talents.
  • Resentment can cause people to behave in a desperate manner. It’s hard to stay true to your values when you feel a lot of anger toward people who have things you don’t.
  • You may damage relationships.

How to Avoid Resentment

If you find yourself resenting other people, use these strategies to change your thoughts:

  • Avoid comparing yourself to other people.
  • Stop emphasizing your weaknesses.
  • Quit magnifying other people’s strengths.
  • Don’t allow yourself to focus on things that aren’t fair.

What to Do

  • Create your own definition of success.
  • Replace negative thoughts that breed resentment with more rational thoughts.
  • Celebrate other people’s accomplishments.
  • Focus on your strengths.
  • Cooperate rather than competing with everyone.

10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure

Some people are motivated by failure to do better the next time, other people simply give up.

Here’s what the research says about determination and failure:

  • Deliberate practice is more important than natural talent.
  • Grit is a better predictor of success than IQ.
  • Attributing failure to a lack of ability leads to learned helplessness.

Don’t allow inaccurate beliefs about your abilities to hold you back from becoming successful.

How Not to Give Up After Failure

  • View failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Resolve to try again if your first attempt was not successful.
  • Face your fear of failure.
  • Develop a new plan to increase your chance of success
  • Identify and replace irrational thoughts about failure.
  • Focus on improving your skills rather than showing off.

11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time

Spending time alone isn’t at the top of most people’s priority lists.

Being alone often gets confused with being lonely. Feelings of loneliness have been linked to poor sleep, high blood pressure, weaker immune systems, and increased stress hormones. But being alone doesn’t necessarily cause loneliness.

Benefits of Alone Time

  • Solitude at the office can increase productivity.
  • Spending time alone sparks creativity.
  • Solitary skills are good for mental health. People who enjoy alone time also experience less depression.
  • Solitude offers restoration. Research shows that spending time alone in nature offers rest and renewal.

What To Do in Alone Time

  • Reflect on your goals.
  • Pay attention to your feelings.
  • Set goals for the future.
  • Write in a journal.

Meditation in Alone Time

  • Sit in a Relaxed Position—Find a position that allows you to keep your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor.
  • Focus on Your Breath—Take deep slow breaths and really feel your breath as you inhale and as you exhale.
  • Return Your Consciousness to Your Breath—Your mind will wander and thoughts will enter your mind. When they do, return your focus to your breathing.

12. They Don’t Feel The World Owes Them Anything

A feeling that the world owes you something isn’t always about a sense of superiority. Sometimes it is about a sense of injustice.

When you don’t get everything you want entitlement can lead to feelings of bitterness as you’ll think you were somehow victimized. Instead of enjoying all that you have and all that you’re free to do, you’ll focus on all that you don’t have and all the things you can’t do.

Keep three truths in mind:

  • Your problems aren’t unique.
  • You have choices in how you respond to disappointments.
  • You aren’t more deserving. Although you’re different from everyone else, there’s nothing about you that makes you better than other people.

Try the following:

  • Focus on your efforts, not your importance.
  • Accept criticism gracefully.
  • Acknowledge your flaws and weaknesses.
  • Stop and think about how other people feel.
  • Don’t keep score of your good deeds—or the reasons you’ve felt wronged—because you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment when you don’t ever receive what you think you’re owed.

13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Although we live in a fast-paced world, we can’t get everything we want instantly.

Mentally strong people recognize that a quick fix isn’t always the best solution. A willingness to develop realistic expectations and an understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight is necessary if you want to reach your full potential.

Why We Expect Immediate Results:

  • We lack patience.
  • We overestimate our abilities.
  • We underestimate how long change takes.

Here are some other potential negative consequences that can occur when you expect to see immediate results:

  • You may be tempted to take shortcuts.
  • You won’t be prepared for the future.
  • Unrealistic expectations can cause you to draw the wrong conclusions.
  • It leads to negative and uncomfortable emotions.
  • Unrealistic expectations may influence your behavior and make it more difficult to achieve the results you want.

What To Do

  • Create realistic expectations about how long it will take to reach the goal and how difficult it will be.
  • Find accurate ways to measure the progress.
  • Celebrate milestones along the journey.
  • Cope with negative feelings in healthy ways.
  • Develop a plan to help you resist temptation.
  • Pace yourself for the long haul.

When you become mentally strong, you will be your best self, have the courage to do what’s right, and develop a true comfort with who you are and what you are capable of achieving.

Are you ready to take control of your life and achieve your full potential? Then you need to read “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” This groundbreaking book will teach you how to overcome the habits and behaviors that are holding you back from success.

Click to know “12 Rules for Life“, “The Science of Building Habits“, “Six Pillars of Self Esteem” and “Emotional Intelligence and its Role in Self Awareness

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