How To Be Mentally Strong

This post contains my personal notes from the book: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do By Amy Morin. The key messages from the book tell us how to be mentally strong.

Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself

  • Do not indulge in exaggeratedly negative thoughts about how difficult your life is. Give yourself a reality check so you don’t exaggerate how bad the situation really is.
  • Do not allow yourself to believe that your life is worse than most other people’s lives.Replace overly negative thoughts about your situation with more realistic thoughts.
  • Do not remain passive about the situation and keep focusing only on how you feel. Focus on what you can do. Choose to actively problem-solve and work on improving your situation.
  • Get active and behave in a way that makes you less likely to feel sorry for yourself, even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Practice gratitude every day. Do not focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you have.

Don’t give away your power

  • Use language that acknowledges your choice such as: I’m choosing to…. Do not use language that implies you are a victim such as: I have to do this…. My boss makes me so mad.
  • Don’t feel anger and resentment toward people you allow to infringe on your rights. Set healthy emotional and physical boundaries with people.
  • Don’t react to others and then blame them for the way you handled yourself. Behave proactively by making conscious choices about how you’ll respond to others.
  • Don’t do things you don’t want to do and then blame others for “making” you do it. Take full responsibility for how you choose to spend your time and energy.
  • Don’t choose to hold a grudge and harbor anger and resentment. Choose to forgive individuals regardless of whether they seek to make amends.
  • Don’t allow feedback and criticism to control how you feel about yourself. Be willing to examine feedback and criticisms without jumping to conclusions.

Don’t shy away from change

  • Do not ignore or avoid even thinking about change. Evaluate your readiness to change with an open mind.
  • Do not put off doing anything different until you reach certain milestones or until certain time frames have passed. Set a realistic time frame to establish and reach your goals.
  • Do not allow your emotions to dictate whether you want to change without considering the logical aspects of doing something different.Balance your emotions and rational thoughts to help you make a decision about whether to do something different.
  • Do not make excuses for why you can’t do anything different.
  • Be willing to anticipate potential obstacles that could interfere with your progress.
  • Review the potential pros and cons of making a change as well the pros and cons of staying the same. Do not focus only on the negative aspects of change without considering the positive.
  • Do not convince yourself not to bother trying to change because you don’t think you can do it.Focus on one small change at a time with clear action steps.
  • Do not wait until you feel like creating change. Commit to behaving like the person you want to become.

Do not focus on things you cannot control

  • Do not insist on doing everything because no one else can do it right. Delegate tasks and responsibilities to other people.
  • Do not choose to do everything on your own because you think you should be able to accomplish things without help. Ask for help when you need it
  • Do not spend time trying to figure out how to change things that are likely beyond your direct control. Focus on solving problems that are within your control
  • Do not try to force other people to do what you think they should do, regardless of how they feel. Keep the emphasis on influencing others rather than controlling them.
  • Think balanced thoughts about what is within your control and what isn’t.
  • Do not rely on yourself for the entire outcome.
  • Don’t only think about what you can do to make things turn out the way you want.
  • Don’t take full responsibility for the end result without acknowledging other factors that influence the outcome.

Do not worry about pleasing everyone

  • Don’t lose sight of who you are and what your values are. Identify your values and behave according to them.
  • Don’t only consider someone else’s feelings without thinking about your emotions.Be aware of your emotions before deciding whether to say yes to someone’s request.
  • Say no when you don’t want to do something. Don’t automatically accept an invitation without considering whether it’s a good choice.
  • Practice tolerating uncomfortable emotions associated with conflict and confrontation. Don’t agree with people and comply with requests to avoid confrontation.
  •  Don’t go along with the crowd or refuse to express any opinions that may go against what the majority of the people think. Behave assertively even when speaking up may not be well received.

Don’t fear to take calculated risks

  • Be aware of emotional reactions to risk taking. Do not base your decisions about risk on how you feel.
  • Identify types of risk that are particularly challenging.  Do not avoid the types of risk that stir up the most fear.
  • Recognize irrational thoughts that influence your decisions. Do not allow irrational thoughts to influence your willingness to try something new.
  • Educate yourself about the facts.
  • Spend time calculating each risk before making a decision. Do not ignore the facts. Make an effort to learn more when you lack the information you need to make the best choice.
  • Don’t react impulsively without taking time to weigh the risk. Don’t refuse to take risks that cause you discomfort. Practice taking risks and monitor the results so you can learn from each risk you take.

Don’t dwell on the past

  • Don’t try to pretend the past did not happen. Reflect on the past enough that you can learn from it.
  • Move forward in your life, even when it maybe painful to do so. Don’t try to prevent yourself from moving forward in life.
  • Don’t focus on what you’ve lost in life without being able to live in present. Actively work through grief so you can focus on the present and plan for the future.
  • Think about negative events in terms of facts, not emotions. Don’t replay painful events in your mind repeatedly and don’t focus on how you felt during them.
  • Don’t try to undo the past or make up for your past mistakes. Find ways to make peace with the past.

Don’t make the same mistakes over and over

  • Acknowledge your personal responsibility for each mistake. Do not make excuses and refuse to examine your role in the outcome.
  • Create a written plan to prevent repeating the mistake. Don’t respond impulsively without thinking about alternatives.
  • Identify triggers and warning signs of old behaviour patterns. Don’t put yourself in situations where you are likely to fail.
  • Practice self-discipline strategies. Do not assume you can always resist temptation or decide you are doomed to keep repeating your mistakes.

Don’t resent other people’s success

  • Create your own definition of success. Don’t chase after everyone else’s dreams.
  • Replace negative thoughts that breed resentment with more rational thoughts. Don’t imagine how much better everyone else’s lives are.
  • Celebrate other people’s accomplishments. Don’t diminish other people’s achievements.
  • Focus on your strengths. Don’t constantly compare yourself to everyone around you.
  • Cooperate rather than compete with everyone. Don’t treat everyone like they are your direct competition.

Don’t give up after the first failure

  • View failure as a learning opportunity. Don’t allow failure to stop you from reaching your goals.
  • Resolve to try again if your first attempt was not successful. Don’t consider future attempts to be a lost cause if your first attempt wasn’t successful.
  • Face your fear of failure. Don’t quit because you don’t want to tolerate discomfort.
  • Don’t define a task as impossible because it didn’t work the first time. Develop a new plan to increase your chance of success.
  • Identify and replace irrational thoughts about failure. Don’t allow yourself to think that failure is worse than it is.
  • Focus on improving your skills rather than showing them off. Don’t refuse to participate in tasks where you are not likely to excel.

Don’t fear alone time

  • Learn how to appreciate silence. Don’t keep background noise on at all times.
  • Take a few minutes every day to be alone with your thoughts. Don’t hurry from one activity to the next and focus on constantly producing something.
  • Schedule a date with yourself at least one time a month. Don’t fill your calendar with social engagements without leaving anytime for yourself.
  • Don’t believe that meditation couldn’t possibly be helpful. Learn how to meditate to quiet your mind.
  • Don’t multitask and zone out throughout the day. Practice mindfulness skills to focus on one task at a time.
  • Don’t assume journaling is a waste of time. Journal to sort out your emotions.
  • Don’t look at your to-do list and judge each day’s progress by how many things you’ve accomplished. Reflect on your progress and goals daily.

Don’t feel the world owes you anything

  • Develop healthy amounts of self-esteem. Don’t become overconfident in yourself and your abilities.
  • Recognize areas of life where you believe you are superior. Don’t insist you are better than most people at almost everything.
  • Focus on what you have to give, rather than what you want to take. Don’t keep score about all the things you deserve in life.
  • Give back to other people in need. Don’t refuse to give to others because you think you don’t have what you deserve.
  • Behave like a team player. Don’t look out for what’s best for you all the time.
  • Think about other people’s feelings. Don’t take only your own feelings into consideration.

Don’t expect immediate results

  • Don’t expect that you will see immediate results. Create realistic expectations about how long it will take to reach your goal and how difficult it will be.
  • Don’t assume that if things don’t get better right away, you’re not making progress. Find accurate ways to measure your progress.
  • Celebrate milestones along your journey. Don’t wait until you get to the end of your journey to celebrate.
  • Don’t allow your frustration and impatience to affect your behaviour. Cope with negative feelings in healthy ways.
  • Don’t predict that you have enough will power to resist all forms of temptation. Develop a plan to help you resist temptation.
  • Don’t look for shortcuts so you can avoid the work necessary to reach your goal. Pace yourself for the long haul.



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