A magnificent piece of work in its own right, this book is by far one of the best self-help books I have come across.
Engaging, easy to read and comprehend, this book is dotted with relatable examples that baffle and equip the reader with an in-depth insight into his/her thinking errors. It also outlines Dos and Don’ts, which can be put into immediate practice.
I have summarized the book in 2 posts, quoting my favorite parts. If you like this summary, please consider purchasing the book.
Disclaimer: All credits go to the original writer.
What is mental strength?
It is the ability to manage one’s emotions and thoughts in order to behave in a positive manner, despite the external circumstances.
Why is it necessary?
Being mentally strong is not about forcing yourself to be happy each day. Instead, it’s about balancing emotions with rational thinking to make decisions that will help you be more content in life and reach your potential.
In her book, psychotherapist and international bestselling author, Amy Morin, talks about 13 things mentally strong people do differently.
1. THEY DON’T WASTE TIME FEELING SORRY FOR THEMSELVES
When faced with adversity, most of us pity ourselves and complain to receive sympathetic words from other people. It not only wastes time but also prevents us from any active problem-solving.
“It is almost as if we assume that something will change if we dig in our heels and remind the universe that we deserve better. But that’s not how the world works. There isn’t a higher being-or a human being for that matter- who will swoop in and make sure we’re all dealt a fair hand in life.”
Here are some helpful tips for snapping out of self-pity:
-Give yourself a reality check so that you don’t blow things out of proportion and exaggerate how bad your situation is.
-Exchange self-pity with gratitude.
Note: The goal here is not to replace negative thoughts with overly positive affirmation, but to find a realistic way to view things. And remember, even if you can’t fix your current situation, you can still make choices to cope with life’s obstacles in a positive fashion.
2. THEY DON’T GIVE AWAY THEIR POWER
Holding a grudge when someone offends you, inability to tolerate criticism, lack of assertiveness, and people-pleasing are some of the few examples of giving away your power. It is a problem because it makes your self-esteem rely on others’ opinions of you.
“If you give others the power to determine your self-worth, you’ll never feel worthy enough. You’ll only be good as someone else’s opinion of you, and you will never be able to receive enough praise or positive feedback to meet your needs if you depend on others to feel good about yourself. You’ll also lack the ability to evaluate criticism. Instead, you’ll take anything anyone says to heart. You’ll give much more power to other people’s words than those words deserve.”
Here is what you can do to reclaim your power:
-Recognize that you have a choice in every matter and re-frame your inner monologue accordingly.
For instance, instead of saying, “My boss made me do it,” try saying, “My boss asked me to do this, and I chose to follow.”
-When offered criticism, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions before responding:
1. Is this from a credible source?
2. Is it true or false?
3. Why was I given this feedback?
4. Do I want to change any of my behavior?
“You can respectfully choose to disagree and move on without devoting time and energy into trying to change the other person’s mind.”
-Stop holding grudges.
“When you hold a grudge, those feelings of anger and resentment do nothing to lessen the other person’s life. Instead, harboring anger and resentment gives that person more power to interfere with your quality of life.”
“You don’t have any control over whether someone will apologize. Waiting to forgive people until they say they are sorry gives them control over not just your life, but perhaps your death even.”
3. THEY DON’T SHY AWAY FROM CHANGE
A certain degree of emotional discomfort is involved in making changes to our life, which is why we tend to resist or even avoid stepping out of our comfort zone.
“Balance your emotions with rational thinking. If you’re terrified of doing something new and it really won’t make a difference in your life, you may decide it’s not worth putting yourself through that stress. But if you can rationally identify how the change will be best for you in the long term, it may make sense to tolerate the discomfort.”
The first step towards any change requires creating a practical plan.
Here are some tips for creating sustainable change:
- Focus on one goal at a time.
- Identify one step you can take daily to reach that goal.
- Anticipate obstacles and how you will deal with them.
- Decide means for feedback.
4. THEY DON’T FOCUS ON THE THINGS THEY CAN’T CONTROL
Underlying unresolved anxiety is the root cause of our need to want to control every aspect of our life. Rather than addressing our stress, we begin to want to control every aspect of our external environment. We falsely believe that if everything could be the way we desire it to be, there will be nothing left to worry about!
Why is it an issue?
“Attempting to control everything wastes time and energy-wishing things were different, trying to convince other people that they have to do everything your way- is exhausting. And telling people how to do things isn’t likely to attract many friends. You’ll not only judge others harshly but will also unnecessarily blame yourself- if you think everything is within your control, you’ll feel directly responsible every time life does not do according to your plans.”
Here is what you can do to combat this problem:
-Understand your fears and let them go. Accept that there are some things (including outcomes and other people) that are beyond your control, and instead, pay attention to the things within your control that most often happens to be your cognition and behavior.
-Influence people without trying to control them:
1. Listen first, speak second.
2. Share your opinions and concerns, but only share it once.
3. Change your behavior.
4. Point out the positive.
5. Practice acceptance: Stop trying to force other people to be different.
All of the above lead to improved relationships because people view you as less critical, and you, in turn, have fewer trust issues.
5.THEY DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE
“While giving away your power is about allowing other people to control how YOU feel, people-pleasing is about trying to control how OTHER PEOPLE feel about you. People pleasers thrive on praise and reassurance from others, and if they’re not receiving enough positive reinforcement, they change their behavior to try and make people feel happy.”
In the long run, people-pleasing not only leads to resentment on the part of the person trying to please others but also makes one lose sight of their values. Remember, it’s okay to disappoint other people sometimes: it’s neither your job to prevent them from experiencing any negative emotion nor your responsibility to make them happy.
Instead, clarify your values. Common values include:
“Pick your top five values in life and rank them in order from most important to least important. Now stop and think about whether you are actually living according to these values? How much of your time, money, energy, and skill is devoted to each one? Are you putting too much effort into something that’s not even on your list.”
6. THEY DON’T FEAR TAKING CALCULATED RISKS.
A certain amount of risk is implicated in every decision. And instead of taking the time to estimate the risk, we let our fear meter make the decision. (Since we incorrectly assume that the degree of fear experienced about a situation is an accurate predictor of the level of risk involved.)
“If you’re sad, you may anticipate failure and avoid risk. If you are happy, you may disregard risk and forge ahead.”
Therefore, to make the right decision, it is essential to balance emotions with logic and recognize any irrational thoughts or feelings unrelated to the risk, which may be influencing you without your conscious permission.
(to be continued)